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Birds in the news: 10 important recent stories

Golden-cheeked Warbler at Friedrich Wilderness Park, San Antonio, Texas, by Lora Render.
Golden-cheeked Warbler at Friedrich Wilderness Park, San Antonio, Texas, by Lora Render.

Here are the most important bird-related stories of the past two weeks:

1. Rediscovered after a century: Scientists in Australia announced that they had captured and tagged a Night Parrot in southwestern Queensland. The endangered nocturnal parrot had long been presumed extinct. Aside from two dead parrots found over the past 25 years, a living bird had not been captured since the 1890s. It is unclear how many of the animals remain. August 9

2. Shorebird of the Year: The organizers of World Shorebirds Day named the Red Knot the 2015 Shorebird of the Year. The rufa subspecies was listed recently as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Last year’s Shorebird of the Year was the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Registration for this year’s global shorebird count opened on August 6. August 9

Read about “The Narrow Edge,” an important new book about the Red Knot.

Why the Red Knot is a marvel of the high arctic.

3. There and back, but why? Researchers who applied geolocators to Ancient Murrelets in British Columbia discovered that the seabird travels almost 8,000 kilometers across the northern Pacific to Japan, then does the whole slog again in reverse, for no obvious benefit. “The whole thing is a bit of a mystery,” says a researcher. “It seems like an awful long way to go for no obvious profit.” August 7

Atlantic Puffin at Skomer Island, Wales, by Doug Walsh.
Atlantic Puffin at Skomer Island, Wales, by Doug Walsh.

4. Sage-grouse numbers rebound: State biologists said they spotted 80,284 male Greater Sage-Grouse across the West in 2015, a 40-percent jump over the 57,399 that were recorded in 2014, and 63 percent more than the 49,397 in 2013. The research comes months after the release of another study that found the number of breeding male grouse fell by more than half between 2007 and 2013. August 3

5. Trouble for puffins: Freak rainstorms flooded the burrows of Atlantic Puffins on the Farne Islands, off the Northumberland coast, halving the number of chicks fledged there this year. The site is one of the UK’s key seabird colonies (23 species breed there), and it’s home to a large grey seal colony. More than 1,000 pups are born every autumn. August 2

6. New in the ABA Area: In Formosa Slough, in San Diego, Gray Thrasher was recorded for the first time not only in California but also in the ABA Area. The bird was well photographed. The species is endemic to Baja California. August 1

7. Getting away from the runway: Ten Laysan Albatrosses fledged this year at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, on the northern coast of Oʻahu. The eggs had been laid at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kaua‘i, where their long-winged parents are deemed a collision risk for Navy aircraft. Conservationists moved the eggs hoping the chicks will imprint on the release site and return there, not the missile range, when it comes time for them to breed. July 31

8. Protection for Whimbrels and oystercatchers: The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network added a new Site of Regional Importance: the 346-acre Maipo River Delta and Estuary, in Chile. The site hosts more than one percent of the population of Whimbrel and the pitanay subspecies of American Oystercatcher. July 30

9. Black-capped Petrels return: Scientists at the annual meeting of BirdsCaribbean in Kingston, Jamaica, announced that one of the world’s rarest seabirds, the endangered Black-capped Petrel, is breeding again on the island of Dominica, where it last nested over 150 years ago. July 29

10. Yellow warbler of Texas: Pro-development groups in Austin and San Antonio, supported by the commanding general of Fort Hood, have petitioned the Interior Department to remove Golden-cheeked Warbler (above) from the endangered species list, contending that the warbler population is so robust that it does not need federal protection. June 29

Where to go for glimpses of the rare Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo.

Late July roundup: A half-dozen important news stories about birds.

10 important news stories from early July.


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