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Lockdown reduced urban parakeet and crow activity
The researchers examined more than 250,000 bird calls recorded during Israel's first COVID-19 lockdown.
Research highlights links between wildlife and humans.

The amount of activity by urban ringneck parakeets and hooded crows fell when the number of people in their habitat was lower during the first COVID-19 lockdown, a study has found.

The researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU), Israel, placed 17 microphones in Yarkon Park and the surrounding streets in Tel Aviv during the first few days of lockdown in March 2020. The park, which is about double the size of Hyde Park in London, normally has millions of visitors each year.

Yossi Yovel, head of the Sagol School of Neuroscience and a member of the School of Zoology at TAU, said: "When the first COVID-19 lockdown began, we, like many researchers, in many fields, identified a rare opportunity to conduct field experiments that would examine how animals behave in the absence of humans.”

The equipment continuously recorded the sounds of birds in the park until 10 days after the lockdown ended in May 2020. In total, the recordings included around 250,000 bird calls spread over 3,234 hours.

Analysing the recordings with the assistance of artificial intelligence, the scientists found that calls from crows in the park fell by around 50 per cent, and the calls of the parakeets decreased by about 90 per cent.

Prof Yovel explained: “The crows and ringneck parakeets, which usually subsist on leftover food from people in the park, searched for other avenues.”

However, in contrast, the calls of another species, the graceful prinia, increased by around 12 per cent.

Unlike the hooded crow and the ringneck parakeet, the graceful prinia does not eat leftover food from people and is relatively shy of humans, despite having adapted to live in an urban environment.

Prof Yovel added: “These findings highlight the fact that there are animals that depend on us in the city, as well as the flexibility of these animals and the complexity and diversity of the urban ecosystem.”

The study has been published in the journal eLife.


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Rabbit Awareness Week set to return this summer

News Story 1
 Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is returning this summer, running from 24-28 June 2024. The theme for this year will be 'Healthy Diet, Happy Bunnies'.

The focus on rabbits' diet comes after the most recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report report revealed that 42 per cent of veterinary professionals identified inappropriate diet as one of the five most important rabbit welfare issues that need to be address.

The campaign will include veterinary blogs, videos, and digital waiting room resources. Practices can sign up to receive updates about RAW. 

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CVS Group hit by cyber attack

CVS Group, which owns more than 450 veterinary practices in the UK, has been hit by a cyber attack.

In a statement, the group said the incident involved unauthorised external access to a limited number of its IT systems. As soon as the attack was discovered, the group took its IT systems temporarily offline, causing 'considerable operational disruption'.

It has warned that the security steps taken and ongoing plans to move its operational systems and IT infrastructure to the Cloud are likely to have an ongoing impact over a number of weeks.

Due to the risk that personal information was accessed, CVS has informed the Information Commissioner's Office. The company is working with third party consultants to investigate the incident.