Bird news from early June: 10 important stories

A Red-faced Liocichla clings to a mossy branch at Mai Fang, Doi Lang, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Red-faced Liocichla at Mai Fang, Doi Lang, Chiang Mai, Thailand, February 2013, by Jason Thompson (Wikimedia Commons).

In chronological order below are the 10 most important stories that we followed while tracking the bird news over the past two weeks. Follow us on Twitter.

1. Conservation milestone: Critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpipers laid eggs in captivity for the first time ever. Seven eggs were laid at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, which has been trying to create a flock since 2011. Only around 200 breeding pairs remain in the wild. June 13

2. Fly to Cuba: Six airlines won permission to resume commercial air service from the U.S. to Cuba for the first time in more than five decades. American, Frontier, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest, and Sun Country will make as many as 155 roundtrip flights a week. They’ll fly from five U.S. cities to nine Cuban cities other than Havana. Most will begin this fall and early winter. June 10

See a list of bird species recorded on our recent bird tour in Cuba.

3. Sky pollution: According to a new atlas, more than 80 percent of the world’s population — and 99 percent of us in the United States and Europe — live under light-polluted skies. One-third of humanity can no longer see the Milky Way. Just think of the impact on night-migrating birds. June 10

Golden-cheeked Warbler sings from a shrub at Frederich Park in San Antonio, Texas.
Golden-cheeked Warbler at Frederich Park in San Antonio, Texas, by Lora Render.

4. Marsh restoration okayed: Voters in northern California approved a first-of-its-kind regional tax to restore tens of thousands of acres of tidal marsh in San Francisco Bay, the West Coast’s largest estuary. The restored marshes will provide vital buffering against the rising seas, along with habitat for salmon and other struggling native species. June 8

5. The longest migration: An Arctic Tern fitted with a geolocator in 2015 completed the longest annual migration known to science, flying from islands off the coast of Northumberland, the northernmost county in England, to Antarctica and back. According to scientists at Newcastle University, the journey covered 96,000 km (59,651 miles). June 7

See a gallery containing photos of twelve tern species.

6. Not seen for 178 years: Ornithologists on a birding trip in Nepal spotted a Red-faced Liocichla (above), a bird thought to be locally extinct. According to Australian Geographic, it was the first time the bird had been spotted in 178 years. June 6

7. A first for Rusty Blackbird: A researcher with International Rusty Blackbird Working Group announced that a high-tech GPS tag had been recovered from a Rusty Blackbird for the first time. The blackbird had carried the tag for almost a whole year and migrated thousands of miles. The species has shown chronic long-term and acute short-term population declines. June 6

Read about the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz.

8. Bird emojis: Three birds will be among the 72 new emojis coming to your desktop or mobile device soon — a Bald Eagle, a drake Mallard, and an owl. Apple and Nexus devices will likely receive the new emojis in the fall. Rollout on Android devices will vary based on each manufacturer’s software updates. June 3

9. Cranes shot in Louisiana again: Up to $9,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the rockhead who shot and killed two endangered Whooping Cranes in Acadia Parish, Louisiana, in late May. The state’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has released 75 cranes since 2011. The cranes that were shot were released in December 2015. June 2

10. Warbler remains listed: The Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a petition to delist the Golden-cheeked Warbler and said it will take no further action on the petition. The warbler is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. It breeds only in Texas, including on Balcones Canyonlands NWR. June 2

Read an article about birding Balcones Canyonlands and another warbler refuge in Texas.

Bird news from late May: 10 important stories.

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