Thursday, 9 March 2017

470 | Four BirdsConTour Awardees


New psychology research shows that the human brain is wired to judge others more harshly for their negative actions rather than praise. That's why we tend to assign blame much faster than we give compliments.
Being praised often makes people feel good. Pride, pleasure, increased feelings of self-esteem, innovative thinking and creative problem-solving are all common reactions to being paid a compliment or receiving positive feedback. This happens because being praised triggers the release of dopamine, a neutrotransmitter that helps control the reward and pleasure centres of the brain.
But because these positive effects are relatively short-lived and because BirdsConTour has long been fascinated by the effects of praise and recognition on workplace performance and behavior, and what this means for organizations, BirdsConTour established the Welfare and Conservation Support Award initiative.
With these awards, given out for welfare and conservation support, BirdsConTour satisfies the short-term need of recognition on a regular annual basis.
The BirdsConTour awards recognize the welfare and conservation efforts of people, initiatives and organizations who support welfare and conservation, no matter to what degree.
It's our way of saying thank you and sharing their support with the world.
BirdsConTour handed out several Welfare and Conservation Support 2017 Awards during this week and during a dinner in the Dros Restaurant Windhoek, Namibia.

The Family of Hope Services infrastructure. This project was supported by Elke Hoeltzcke.

Unwanted exotic wild growing cactus

Elke busy crushing this unwanted plant

Elke Hoeltzcke received a Welfare and Conservation Support 2017 Award. She was a tour participant on the Namibian Compact Birding Tour from BirdsConTour. Throughout this tour she supported the BirdsConTour Cancer Free Future initiative (see article 467), she donated clothing and toys to the Family of Hope Services project (see article 458) (read more about Family of Hope Services under through BirdsConTour, she participated in the BirdsConTour's Cactus Free Landscape initiative and she donated a certain amount of money to wetland conservation through having purchased a BirdsConTour Birds of Namibia Birthday Calendar (see articles 465 and 466).

Supporting children with cancer through art classes

Regine Gillmann was recognized for social welfare. She offers art classes on a voluntary basis to children with cancer in Windhoek, Namibia, once a week. Mrs Gillmann was recently supported by the BirdsConTour Cancer Free Future initiative, see article 467. Also read more under

Isabella Stock received a Welfare Support 2017 Award. Isabella donated 200 Euro to the BirdsConTour Cancer Free Future initiative (see article 466) for the purpose of supporting children suffering from cancer.

While enjoying a delicious dinner Heiko was honored with a Conservation Support 2017 Award.

Heiko Rust was honored with a BirdsConTour Conservation Support 2017 Award at the Dros Restaurant where BirdsConTour invited him for dinner. As a person in need, Heiko is passionately involved in being responsible for filling the refill packs which BirdsConTour supplies to Birdie Snacks Bar customers. For every Refill Pack that Heiko packs BirdsConTour pays him a certain amount of money. Read more in article 463.

Monday, 6 March 2017

469 | Leucistic Double-banded Courser in Etosha NP, Namibia


A nesting leucistic Double-banded Courser in Etosha National Park, Namibia, observed during a birdwatching tour led by BirdsConTour.
Photo Stefan Rust

Abnormally white feathers in bird plumage is called leucism, a situation in which some feathers have scant deposits of pigment. This is caused by defective genes that restrict the body's melanin from entering certain feathers or feather groups. Some people confuse leucistic birds with albino birds or partial albino birds. Albino birds have a genetic mutation which generally results in a lack of melanin in their bodies and plumage. Eyes, skin, beak, legs and feet typically have no color unless carotenoids, organic pigments that come from plants in the birds' diets, enter some feathers, giving albino birds slight coloration. But albinism in birds is extremely rare, whereas leucism may not be quite as rare, but is certainly highly unusual. Leucistic birds are not albinos because they have normally colored eyes, beaks, legs and feet.
Environmental hazards do play a role in leucism and albinism. Birds with abnormally white feathers, whether due to albinism or leucism, have little chance of survival because they are highly conspicuous to predators. They also don't easily attract a mate due to lack of their specific species color.

Nesting leucistic Double-banded Courser in Etosha NP. on the 3.3.2017
Photo Elke Hoeltzcke

Double-banded Courser with normal color

Double-banded coursers (Rhinoptilus africanus) breed in monogamous pairs. After the mating dance of the male, the female then lays one egg, which the parents take hour-long shifts incubating.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

468 | Water for Sossus Birds


The official BirdsConTour Water for Sossus Birds trough.

Tourism is an important industry for Namibia but can cause significant disturbance to animals in their natural habitat. 

Sossusvlei, the main attraction point of the Namib Sand Sea (Namibia's first UNESCO natural Heritage Site since 21st June 2013) for example, is a very sensitive environment and heavy visitor disruption wipes out a big amount of seeds, reptiles and insects, resulting in a lack of food and moisture for birds. For many species these food items are also a primary source of moisture their body needs.

In order to counteract this visitor-birdlife conflict and to help birds to replenish their body moisture and food, BirdsConTour introduced the Water for Sossus Birds project in 2013. Hereby tour guides, visiting the Sossusvlei area, are requested to put out a filled water and food feeder, constructed and funded by BirdsConTour, at the 4x4 parking area. With peace of mind the guide and guests can now go and discover and enjoy the magnificent Sossusvlei area.

If it happens that a tour guide forgot to take along his/her Water for Sossus Birds trough, an alternative such as this cut in half coke tin will do the trick to support these thirsty feathered desert dwellers.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

467 | Birding against cancer


What is cancer?
Cells are the very small units that make up the human body, actually all living things. These billions of cells in each person's body are produced by an existing cell copying itself and splitting to produce two new cells.
Cancer happens when cells that are not normal grow and continue multiplying even when the body does not need them. This is called uncontrolled division of abnormal cells. Normal body cells grow and divide and know when to stop growing and over time they also die. Whereas cancer cells just continue to grow and divide out of control and don't die when they are supposed to. These uncontrolled growing cancer cells clump together resulting in tumors. These growths are considered either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are rarely life threatening, do not spread to other parts of the body and they can often be removed. Malignant tumors, however, destroy the normal cells around the tumor, damage the body's healthy tissues and organs and can make someone very sick.
Sometimes cancer cells break away from the original tumor and travel to other body areas where they can form new tumors. This is called metastasis.

Risk factors:
- Being overweight can lead to cancer later in life.
- Regular exercise helps prevent cancer 
- Stop smoking 
- Limit alcohol consumption 
- Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day
Cancer Free Future (CFF) initiative by BirdsConTour

BirdsConTour takes action in supporting children with cancer by having founded the Cancer Free Future (CFF) initiative. CFF renders a welfare service to children with cancer by BirdsConTour making a donation to people who take care of children with cancer for each booked BirdsConTour tour.

Art classes to children with cancer.
Photo by R. Gillmann

Hereby a first money donation was handed over to Mrs. Regine Gillmann on the 24th of February with the start of the Namibia Compact Birding Tour.

Some children never had the opportunity to hold a drawing pen in their hands.
Photo by R. Gillmann

Mrs. Gillmann offers art classes on a voluntary basis to children with cancer in Windhoek once a week  and can use this donation to buy much needed art products. Read more under