Here are the most important bird-related stories of the past two weeks:
1. Duck Stamp: The 82nd Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp went on sale. The 2015-16 stamp features a pair of Ruddy Ducks painted by Jennifer Miller, of Olean, New York, and costs $25, up from $15 in previous years. June 26
2. One for the wish list: One of the largest, most spectacular birds of prey on the planet, a Steller’s Sea-Eagle, was found on tiny Buldir Island, one of the western Aleutian Islands, where it is very rare. The bird breeds in the Russian Far East and winters as far south as Japan and Korea. June 23
3. Sixteen nests, eleven chicks: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that Whooping Cranes at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, in Wisconsin, have had the most successful nesting season since 2001, when the refuge began working to establish a self-sustaining population. Sixteen nests have hatched at least one egg, and 11 chicks are still alive. June 23
4. Petition denied: The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to reopen a case involving the deaths of 23 endangered Whooping Cranes in Texas. A senior U.S. district judge had ruled in 2013 that the state, in withholding freshwater meant to nourish the San Antonio Bay estuary, was at least partially to blame for the cranes’ death, but the decision was later overturned by the 5th Circuit Court. June 22
5. Sixth extinction: According to researchers at Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley, and the University of Mexico, the planet is in the midst of a man-made extinction event not seen for 65 million years. “If it is allowed to continue,” said one of the scientists, “life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early.” June 20
6. Accidental reserves: The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation announced that it will convert 62 military bases into nature reserves. Most are located west of the former Iron Curtain, in what used to be West Germany. The once-fortified borderlands became accidental nature reserves during the Cold War. June 18
7. Before it’s too late: Pope Francis, in a sweeping 184-page encyclical, called for a swift, radical transformation of politics, economics, and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change. June 18
8. An app for that: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology announced the release of a new free iOS app for mobile data entry. The new app will replace an existing program known as Birdlog, which since 2012 has been the only app that ties into birders’ eBird accounts. A version of the new eBird app for Android devices is forthcoming. June 18
9. Off the list: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern puma extinct and removed it from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The cat, a subspecies of the cougar or mountain lion, was extinct well before it was listed. A different subspecies, the Florida panther, survives in a small numbers in southern Florida. June 17
10. Old baldie: The nation’s oldest known Bald Eagle was struck by a car and killed in western New York. It was 38 years old, five years older than the previous record holder. The eagle had been banded in August 1977, when it was only a few months old. June 17
Six fun birding events taking place in July.
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