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The most important bird news from early July

Bird news: California Scrub-Jay, formerly Western Scrub-Jay, in Portland, Oregon.
California Scrub-Jay, formerly Western Scrub-Jay, at Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon, November 2005 (Wikimedia Commons).

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. Checklist changes: The American Ornithologists’ Union released the 57th Supplement to its authoritative checklist of North American birds. The AOU split Western Scrub-Jay into California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, reshuffled the 21 orders between Galliformes (chicken-like birds) and Trogoniformes (trogons), and made other changes. July 7

2. Firsts for Britain, Scotland: Little Gull, the world’s smallest species of gull, nested in Scotland for the first time last month. Then, for the first time in Britain, the eggs hatched successfully. Observers spotted at least two chicks. July 6

3. North America’s ostrich: Researchers said that a 50-million-year-old fossil specimen represents a previously unknown relative of the modern-day ostrich. The fossil was found over a decade ago in a former lakebed in Wyoming. One researcher called the specimen a “keystone” that might help interpret much of the fossil record of birds that once lived in North America. July 5

Bird news: Red-legged Honeycreeper in Costa Rica.
Red-legged Honeycreeper in Costa Rica by christian sanchez arce.

4. Setback for endangered sandpiper: According to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, a pair of Spoon-billed Sandpipers that had been bred in captivity in Gloucestershire, in South West England, died after less than 60 hours of life. July 5

5. Added to ABA Checklist: The ABA Checklist Committee added Red-legged Honeycreeper to the ABA Checklist. The decision was based on a juvenile photographed at Estero Llano Grande State Park, Texas, in late November 2014. The addition brought the number of species on the ABA Checklist to 991. July 2

6. Eagles in Virginia: Surveyors with the Center for Conservation Biology announced that they had counted 1,070 pairs of Bald Eagles, a record, in Virginia this year. The commonwealth’s population had been as low as 20 pairs as recently as 1970. July 1

Seven festive photographs of Bald Eagle.

7. Why frigatebirds are amazing: Researchers working with Great Frigatebirds on a tiny atoll between Mozambique and the island of Madagascar published data indicating that adult frigatebirds can stay on the wing continuously for as long as 48 days, and that juveniles make nonstop flights lasting up to 2.1 months. June 30

8. The hunt continues: The Supreme Court of Pakistan struck down a law that had imposed a permanent ban on the hunting of Houbara Bustards. Wealthy Arab princes hunt the birds for sport and because the meat is considered an aphrodisiac. June 29

9. Wings in amber: Two wings from birds that lived alongside the dinosaurs were found preserved in amber from Myanmar. Said a researcher: “The individual feathers show every filament and whisker, whether they are flight feathers or down feathers, and there are even traces of color — spots and stripes.” It’s thought that the birds became trapped in sticky sap in a tropical forest 99 million years ago. June 28

10. Grasslands preserved: The Nature Conservancy secured a conservation easement on 15,959 acres of land north of Glasgow, Montana. The easement will contribute toward the conservation of one of the most intact grasslands on the continent. June 20

The most important bird news from late June.

Bird news from early June: 10 important stories.

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