Important bird news from the end of December

1/11/2017 | 0

Sandwich Tern made bird news recently. This pair was at Fort De Soto Park, near St. Petersburg, Florida.

Sandwich Tern made bird news recently. This pair was at Fort De Soto Park, near St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo by Mike Landwehr.

Here’s a roundup of the latest bird news. In chronological order below are the 10 most important stories that we followed in the first weeks of the new year and the last days of the old. Follow us on Twitter.

Year in review 2016: The 50 most important stories about birds and birders.

1. Protection for terns: The prime minister of Aruba pledged to protect the San Nicolas Bay reef islands. They were designated a Globally Important Bird Area by BirdLife International in 2007. The islands host large concentrations of Brown and Black Noddies and Roseate, Royal, Least, Common, Sooty, Bridled, Sandwich, and Cayenne Terns. January 8

Read our article about Aruba’s globally important tern islands.

2. ABA Area Big Year record broken: The American Birding Association announced that four birders had passed Neil Hayward’s 2013 Big Year record of 749. John Weigel finished 2016 with 780 species and three provisional species (Cuban Vireo, Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck); Olaf Danielson recorded 776 (+2: Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck); Laura Keene recorded 759 (+3: Cuban Vireo, Pine Flycatcher, Common Shelduck); and Christian Hagenlocher recorded 750 (+2: Cuban Vireo, Pine Flycatcher). January 4

3. Another crane shot in Indiana: A Whooping Crane was shot and killed a few miles south of Lyons, Indiana, about 100 miles northwest of Louisville, over the New Year’s weekend. The crane, a five-year-old female known as 4-11, was hatched in 2011 at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, in Maryland, and reintroduced in Wisconsin by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. She hatched her first chick this summer. A $2,500 reward has been offered for tips leading to a conviction. January 4

Ruddy Turnstone made bird news recently. This one was at Chincoteague NWR, in Virginia.

Ruddy Turnstone made bird news recently. This one was at Chincoteague NWR, in Virginia. Photo by Joshua Galicki.

4. Bird of the year: The American Birding Association announced that its 2017 Bird of the Year will be a bird of the world — Ruddy Turnstone. The shorebird breeds in the Holarctic, including in tundra regions from Alaska to Greenland. The North American birds spend the winter not only along the shores of Britain and Ireland and along the Iberian Peninsula and northwestern Africa, but also in northern Brazil, along the coasts of North and Central America, throughout the West Indies, and in coastal South America. January 3

View reader photos of Ruddy Turnstone.

5. World Big Year broken: The world Big Year mark set in 2015 by American author Noah Strycker was broken by Dutch birder Arjan Dwarshuis, who recorded 6,833 species. Dwarshuis’s final species in 2016 was a Black-crowned Fulvetta, which is endemic to Vietnam. Strycker’s total was 6,042 species. December 31

6. Done deal: The American Ornithologists’ Union — the society that maintains the authoritative record of birds found in North and Middle America, votes yea or nay on all species lumps and splits, and publishes the influential peer-reviewed journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances — legally merged with the Cooper Ornithological Society, forming the American Ornithological Society (AOS). December 29

7. Setback for Hawaiian Crow: Two of five critically endangered ‘Alala, or Hawaiian Crows, that had been released on the Big Island of Hawaii on December 14 were returned to captivity after the other three were found dead. The cause of the deaths is unknown. The species is extinct in the wild. December 27

Make room, New Caledonian Crow! Hawaiian Crow uses tools, too!

8. Eagles soar in Wisconsin: Observers counted 1,504 Bald Eagle nests in Wisconsin, the highest number ever. The total has been above 1,000 since 2005. The results are the latest sign of a comeback after eagles and other raptors teetered on the brink of extinction in the 1960s and 1970s. December 21

9. Marine reserve grows: France expanded the Réserve naturelle nationale des Terres australes françaises, a marine reserve in French-controlled sub-Antarctic waters of the southern Indian Ocean. The act increases the reserve’s size from 15,700 to 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) and encompasses seven protected areas surrounding the islands of Crozet and Kerguelen. December 14

10. Wind farm permits: Wind farms were granted 30-year permits that could allow the accidental deaths of thousands of Bald and Golden Eagles due to collisions with turbines, towers, and electrical wires. The new federal rule will go into effect on January 15. December 14

Year in review 2016: The 50 most important stories about birds and birders.

Important bird news from the end of November.

BirdWatching magazine celebrates Snowy Owl and other birds.

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