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Important bird news from the beginning of September

Whooping Cranes made bird news by having a good breeding season.
Whooping Cranes made bird news. This pair was at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, by mayhaga.

Here’s a roundup of the latest bird news. In chronological order below are the 10 most important stories that we followed over the past two weeks. Follow us on Twitter.

1. Flying for Bewick’s Swan: British conservationist Sacha Dench took to the skies in a motorized paraglider, starting a 4,500-mile expedition across the Russian Arctic intended to shed light on the decline of Bewick’s Swan, the UK’s smallest, shyest species of swan. Dench will travel west and south through 11 countries, including Finland, Poland, and Germany, to the swans’ wintering grounds in Britain and other parts of western Europe. September 19

2. Good year for cranes: The U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator reported that the endangered crane had a good breeding year in Wood Buffalo National Park, in Canada. About 45 Whooping Cranes fledged. They will be headed to Texas on their first migration soon and are expected to arrive at Aransas NWR in early October. September 16

Whooping Crane population in Texas up slightly (March 19, 2015).

3. A new marine monument: President Obama declared the first fully protected area in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean, designating 4,913 square miles off the New England coastline as Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The area is home to many species of deep-sea coral, sharks, sea turtles, seabirds, and deep-diving marine mammals, such as beaked whales and sperm whales. September 15

4. Mississippi Kite in Wisconsin: Organizers of the second Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas announced that Mississippi Kites were found breeding in Wisconsin for first time. A nest discovered near Janesville, in Rock County, represents one of the northernmost breeding records in the species’ range. September 15

James Hautman, of Chaska, Minnesota, made bird news with this painting of Canada Geese.
This painting of Canada Geese by James Hautman, of Chaska, Minnesota, made bird news by winning the 2016 Federal Duck Stamp art contest. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

5. Another crow uses tools: Researchers who have studied tool use in New Caledonian Crow found a similar astonishing degree of dexterity in the critically endangered Hawaiian Crow, or ‘Alala. Hawaiian Crow was listed as an endangered species in 1967 and has been extinct in the wild since the early 2000s. September 14

6. The next Duck Stamp: An acrylic painting of three Canada Geese by artist James Hautman, of Chaska, Minnesota, won the 2016 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. The painting will be made into the 2017-18 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2017. It was Hautman’s fifth Duck Stamp win. September 9

7. Merlin in Illinois: A hatchling raptor discovered in July in Mt. Prospect, north of Chicago, Illinois, confirmed that Merlins were nesting in the state for the first time. The small falcon typically breeds in the boreal forests well to the north but has been expanding its breeding range south in recent decades. September 9

See reader photos of Merlin.

8. Seabirds in Arizona: Hurricane Newton pushed Juan Fernandez Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, Least Storm-Petrel, and other Pacific seabirds into Arizona, delighting birders. Newton made landfall in Baja California Sur as a Category 1 storm, then moved northwest along the peninsula before turning eastward toward southeastern Arizona. September 8

9. Multiple extinctions likely: Researchers reported that “multiple extinctions” of Hawaiian forest birds are likely in the next decade. They studied seven native forest species on the island of Kauai between 1981 and 2012. Six showed population declines in both their periphery and core ranges by averages of roughly 94 and 68 percent. A one-two punch of avian malaria and climate change are driving the declines. September 7

10. A sad farewell: Ontario birder and researcher Alan Wormington died. He was a member of the Ontario Birds Records Committee and the record holder for bird species listed in the province. Wormington had spotted 445 of the 495 species in Ontario. September 3

–Chuck Hagner, Editor

The most important bird news from the end of August.

The most important bird news from late August.

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