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The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

Starling numbers fall fast

The number of starlings seen in people's gardens has fallen by almost four-fifths in the past three decades, the RSPB says today.

Golden fields in the evening sun near Yesnaby

Walk of the month: Orkney

At this time of year, the only company you're likely to have in Orkney is seabirds, as Mark Rowe discovers

Drought will cause a 'wildlife tragedy', says Environment Agency

Exceptional dry spell threatens species from trees to tadpoles

When the Killing's Done, By TC Boyle

Conservation thriller with no end of rats

Half the world's seabirds are in decline, says report

The populations of almost half of the world's seabirds are thought to be in decline, according to a study published in Bird Conservation International.

Goldfinches are now found in 58% of gardens, up from just 12% in the mid 1990s

Goldfinches thrive in UK gardens as song thrushes dwindle

Goldfinches are now found in almost five times as many gardens as they were 16 years ago, latest figures from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) show.

New Zealand's penguin power

A giant penguin more than 4ft (1.2m) tall roamed New Zealand about 27 million years ago, according to paleontologists who have reconstructed it from fossil remains.

Brian May condemns Windermere geese cull

Queen guitarist Brian May today announced his opposition to the killing of 200 Canada geese in the Lake District.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: For the first time, we can see spring coming from 4,000 miles away

Over six months, the mystery of where cuckoos winter has revealed itself

Professor Paul Keim says the world is not yet prepared for a strain of the virus

No way of stopping leak of deadly new flu, says terror chief

US biosecurity board expert warns against details of H5N1 bird flu getting into wrong hands

Animals can't keep up with climate change

Study of 11,000 bird and butterfly species shows many are at risk

Killer flu doctors: US censorship is a danger to science

Dutch lab that created deadly bird flu virus attacks America for redacting its research.

Bird flu victim dies in Chinese hospital

A bus driver in southern China's Guangdong province has died of bird flu, a week after being admitted to hospital with a fever.

Poultry cull in Hong Kong after two dead birds tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu

Bird-flu victim 'had no direct contact with poultry'

Alarm in China after bus driver dies, and, in nearby Hong Kong, 19,000 chickens have been slaughtered

Chinese bus driver dies of bird flu

A Chinese bus driver who tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus died in a city bordering Hong Kong today, health officials said.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...