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The most important bird news from the end of August

Atlantic Puffin made bird news.
Atlantic Puffin on Skommer Island, Wales, by Doug Walsh.

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. Hurricane vagrants: National Weather Service radar images showed the signatures of birds trapped inside the eye of Hurricane Hermine. The storm transported potentially thousands of birds from the Gulf of Mexico into the Southeast. A Magnificent Frigatebird photographed on September 2 in Lowndes County, in south-central Georgia, was one of them. September 2

2. Eagles make history in New York: Two juvenile Bald Eagles have been interacting with Staten Island’s adult eagles since the beginning of August. Observers have concluded that at least one juvenile hatched on Staten Island this summer. The eaglet is New York City’s first naturally reared Bald Eagle chick since at least 1914. September 1

3. Manitoba gone wild: A new app that encourages Manitobans to enjoy nature and connect with naturalists was flooded with sightings of animals and plants this summer. The app, called Go Wild Manitoba!, was funded in part by the province. Conservationists and scientists hope it will help them monitor a vast range of species across the province. September 1

Magnificent Frigatebird made bird news.
Magnificent Frigatebird in Lowndes County, Georgia, September 2, 2016, by Marvin Smith.

4. Snowy Owls thrive: Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan announced that few of the adult Snowy Owls they capture in winter on the Canadian prairies show signs of starvation. Indeed, the birds’ fat stores seem to increase during the season. Conventional wisdom holds that Snowies are forced south by a lack of prey in the Arctic, and therefore are starving. August 31

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5. Reserves for penguins: At the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu, Hawaii, members voted to urge the designation of marine reserves in the Ross Sea and East Antarctica. The Ross Sea has been called the “least altered marine ecosystem on Earth” but is under increasing pressure from commercial fishing. The World Conservation Congress meets every four years to help set global conservation priorities. August 31

6. Commercial flights resume: JetBlue Flight 386, the first regular U.S. commercial flight to Cuba in more than 50 years, landed safely in Santa Clara, after a short trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The United States and Cuba agreed in January to resume flights following the normalization of relations in December 2014. August 31

7. Gnatcatcher retains protections: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected a petition to remove the coastal California Gnatcatcher from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. In the United States, the subspecies is restricted to coastal southern California, from Ventura and San Bernardino counties south to the Mexican border. It was listed as Threatened in 1993. August 30

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8. Landbird conservation: Partners in Flight released its updated Landbird Conservation Plan on August 15. In it, the group announced that nearly 20 percent of U.S. and Canadian landbird species are on a path toward endangerment and extinction in the absence of conservation action. Partners in Flight is a network of more than 150 partnering organizations throughout the Western Hemisphere. August 23

9. Hawaiian monument quadrupled: President Barack Obama more than quadrupled the size of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, off northwestern Hawaii. The monument was established by President George W. Bush in 2006. Obama extended most of its boundary out to the 200-mile limit of the exclusive economic zone, creating the largest protected area anywhere on Earth. August 23

10. Puffins starve: On Machias Seal Island, in the Gulf of Maine, almost 90 percent of the Atlantic Puffin chicks that hatched this summer died. The birds apparently starved after prey fish such as hake or herring either did not show up in sufficient numbers or avoided warming surface waters by swimming deeper than adult puffins can dive. According to a spokesman for Project Puffin, chicks hatched in colonies farther south fared better. August 23

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–Chuck Hagner, Editor

The most important bird news from late August.

The most important news from early August.

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