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10 important news stories about birds: A late-September roundup

A Greater Sage-Grouse male displays on a lek near Bridgeport, California, March 2010. Photo by Jeannie Stafford/USFWS.
A male Greater Sage-Grouse displays on a lek near Bridgeport, California, March 2010. Photo by Jeannie Stafford/USFWS.

Here are ten important news stories that we tweeted or retweeted over the past two weeks.

Follow BirdWatching magazine on Twitter.

1. No protections for sage-grouse: The Interior Department rejected federal protection for the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The decision reverses a 2010 finding that the bird was headed toward possible extinction. Protection could have brought sweeping restrictions on oil and gas drilling, grazing, and other activities from California to the Dakotas. September 22

2. A pair of firsts: Birders found a Pallas’s Rosefinch, a finch from east-central Asia, in the Pribilof Islands, in Alaska. If accepted, the record would be a first in the ABA Area. Another potential first, a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, an Old World warbler, was found on Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, a few days earlier. September 21

3. A swan for the Duck Stamp: For the first time in half a century, swans, not ducks or geese, will appear on the Federal Duck Stamp. An acrylic painting of a pair of Trumpeter Swans by Joseph Hautman, of Plymouth, Minnesota, took first place at the 2015 Federal Duck Stamp art contest. The painting will be made into the 2016-17 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2016. September 19


4. Farewell to a friend: Haiku, the International Crane Foundation’s beloved ambassador, died. The Red-crowned Crane hatched in 1978. Each spring, he and his mate, Ace, were surrogate incubators for captive Whooping Crane eggs. September 19

5. The silent sea around us: An emergency edition of World Wildlife Fund’s Living Blue Planet Report concluded that almost half of the world’s marine mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish have been lost in a single generation. The report revealed a 49 percent decline in marine vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. For some fish, the figure was almost 75 percent. September 17

Study: Seabird populations declined 70 percent throughout the modern industrial era.


6. Big Year record broken: With a Sri Lanka Frogmouth spotted in Thattekaad, India, author Noah Strycker set a new world year-listing record. He passed the previous record of 4,341 species, set by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller and featured in the book The Biggest Twitch. Strycker’s goal for the year is to see 5,000 species. September 16

Read our review of Strycker’s 2014 book The Thing with Feathers.

7. And smoking isn’t bad for you, either: According to InsideClimate News, Exxon (now ExxonMobil) knew as early as 1977 that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. The company then spent decades helping to organize campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed the planet’s response to global warming. September 16


Watch a short FRONTLINE film about Exxon’s early research into climate change.

8. Dove’s migration revealed: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds announced that Titan, a satellite-tagged Turtle Dove from the UK, had returned to Suffolk in June, completing a remarkable 11,000-kilometer round trip to wintering grounds in Mali, in West Africa. September 15

9. Shearwater’s journey plotted: Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Oikonos announced that they had tracked Pink-footed Shearwaters wearing solar-powered satellite transmitters as they migrated from breeding grounds on Isla Mocha, off the Pacific coast of Chile, all the way north to British Columbia. The bird is considered Vulnerable by the IUCN and listed as Endangered in Chile. September 10

10. Protection stripped: A federal court in Texas stripped the Lesser Prairie-Chicken of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, a victory for oil and gas companies. The bird was once plentiful in the Great Plains, but its habitat has shrunk by more than 80 percent since the 1800s and its population by 99 percent. September 1


News roundup: 10 stories about birds that made headlines in early September.

Late August roundup: 10 key news stories about birds.

Follow BirdWatching magazine on Twitter.



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