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Birds in the news: 10 important stories from the middle of February

Hyacinth Macaws in the Pantanal, Brazil, by Christian Sanchez Arce.

Here are the 10 most important news stories that we tweeted or retweeted on Twitter over the past two weeks. Follow us on Twitter.

1. Record-setting count: With many checklists and species still to be entered and counted, the organizers of the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count announced on February 19 that this year’s participants had submitted more checklists (150,167) and recorded more species (5,296) than ever before. More than half of the world’s species have been reported. February 19

2. Threatened parrots: According to a study by BirdLife International and the Australian National University, 111 of the world’s 398 parrot species (almost 28 percent) are classified as globally threatened. “This study confirms that, as a whole, parrots face a higher rate of extinction than any other comparable bird group,” said BirdLife’s head of science. Fifty-six percent of all parrot species are in decline. February 19

Atlantic Puffin on Machias Seal Island, Maine, July 16, 2015, by Joshua Clark.
Atlantic Puffin on Machias Seal Island, Maine, July 16, 2015, by Joshua Clark.

3. Major milestone: The British Ornithologists’ Union and the British Birds Rarity Committee confirmed that the 600th species had been added to the British List, a major milestone. The species, a seabird known as Yelkouan Shearwater, was spotted off Berry Head, Devon, on July 29, 2008. February 18

4. Gull on the trampoline: An Ivory Gull was found in Bayfield County, Wisconsin, where it visited a feeding station and was photographed sitting on a snow-covered trampoline. It was the fourth Ivory Gull to be reported in the western Great Lakes this winter. February 17

5. Winter grounds mapped: National Audubon researchers announced that they had mapped the Atlantic Puffin’s winter grounds for the first time. Geolocators attached to birds in the Gulf of Maine revealed that they first traveled northward, to the western Gulf of St. Lawrence, but then moved southward to the U.S. Continental Shelf, well offshore of New York and New Jersey. The areas most frequented are about 200 miles southeast of Cape Cod. February 16

6. Flights to Cuba: The United States and Cuba signed an agreement restoring commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades. The Department of Transportation immediately opened bidding by American air carriers on as many as 110 U.S.-Cuba flights a day. It expects to award the new routes by the summer. February 16

7. Cranes arrive: Northbound Sandhill Cranes started arriving along the Platte River in Nebraska. A small flock was seen flying over the Rowe Sanctuary, near Gibbon, as early as January 31. February 15

8. Wisdom’s chick hatches: Wisdom, the famous Laysan Albatross that researchers first tagged in 1956, hatched what could be her 40th chick. The youngster was given the name Kūkini, the Hawaiian word for messenger. The chick was first seen coming out of its shell on February 1. February 9

9. Legislation for seabirds: A congressman introduced the Albatross and Petrel Conservation Act, which would enable federal agencies to comply with an international agreement that aims to reduce seabird deaths by longline fishing and other threats. If the new act is agreed, the United States would become the 14th country to sign the agreement. President George W. Bush asked the Senate to ratify it in 2008, but the body has yet to take action. ACAP covers 31 species, 21 of which are globally threatened. February 4

10. ABA awards: The American Birding Association announced that it was presenting the 2016 Ludlow Griscom Award for Contributions to Regional Ornithology to Keith Russell, organizer of the Philadelphia Midwinter Bird Census; the Betty Petersen Award for Conservation and Community to Ann Nightingale, the face of the Vancouver Island birding community; and the Chandler Robbins Award for Education/Conservation to Robert A. Lewis, president of the Farallon Islands Foundation. February 2

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Birds in the news: 10 important stories from the beginning of February.


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