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Birds in the news: 10 important stories from the middle of March

An eaglet emerges at the National Arboretum, Washington, DC, March 2016. ©2016 American Eagle Foundation, eagles.org.
An eaglet emerges at the National Arboretum, Washington, DC, March 2016. ©2016 American Eagle Foundation, eagles.org.

Here are the 10 most important news stories that we tweeted or retweeted on Twitter over the past two weeks. Follow us on Twitter.

1. Eaglets in D.C.: Two Bald Eagle eggs hatched high atop a tulip poplar in the National Arboretum, in the nation’s capital, as delighted eagle-watchers tuned in via webcam. The nest is the first in the arboretum since 1947. The eaglets are not expected to leave the nest until they are 12 or 13 weeks old. March 20

2. Puzzling murre carcasses: Thousands of dead Common Murres were found in a freshwater lake in southwestern Alaska, surprising experts. The bird’s preferred winter habitat is at sea. Since they began washing ashore on Alaska beaches in March 2015, the confirmed carcass count has reached 36,000. Federal investigators are trying to determine if the deaths are connected to a lack of food, parasites, disease, weather, or some other factor. March 17

Eaglets
Day-old eaglets, National Arboretum, Washington, DC, March 21, 2016. ©2016 American Eagle Foundation, eagles.org.

3. In Spanish as well as English: Audubon released online the Guía de Aves de América del Norte, offering a Spanish-language version of its popular field guide for the first time in the organization’s 111-year history. Eight in ten North American bird species also occur in Spanish-speaking Latin America. March 17

4. Easing restrictions: Days before President Obama became the first sitting president in nearly nine decades to visit Cuba, the administration removed the last meaningful restrictions on travel by Americans to the island. Although tourism will remain officially barred under the decades-old trade embargo, Americans will be allowed to visit Cuba on their own, instead of joining group tours, as long as the travelers declare that their trip is to learn about Cuban people and culture. March 15

Eaglets and parent
A watchful parent, National Arboretum, Washington, DC, March 21, 2016. ©2016 American Eagle Foundation, eagles.org.

5. First for the Southern Hemisphere: The Records Appraisal Committee of Birds New Zealand announced that a seabird photographed in February 2014 east of the Snares Islands, south of New Zealand’s South Island, had been recognized as a dark-morph Northern Fulmar. The species had never been recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. March 15

6. First for New Hampshire: A Redwing, a thrush native to Europe and Asia, was found in New Hampshire for the first time. The very rare visitor was seen near the high school in Hollis, just west of Nashua. March 14

Parent brooding
The countdown to fledging begins. National Arboretum, Washington, DC, March 21, 2016. ©2016 American Eagle Foundation, eagles.org.

7. Rare flycatcher in Florida: A Cuban Pewee, a flycatcher commonly found in Cuba and the northern Bahamas, was photographed in Crandon Park, in Key Biscayne, Florida. The pewee is distinguished by a small whitish crescent behind the eye and a prolonged descending whistle. The sighting represents the fifth record for the ABA Area. March 14

8. Ties that bind: Once again, a Magellanic Penguin has made an 8,000-kilometer journey from Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America, to a beach off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to visit a man who rescued and fed the bird in 2011. The bird has come to visit each year since 2011. “Every year he becomes more affectionate, as he appears even happier to see me,” the man said. March 11

9. Spoonbill numbers grow: An annual census recorded 3,356 endangered Black-faced Spoonbills in January 2016, an increase of 2.6 percent from the previous year and a record recent count. The survey covered locations in South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand. March 11

10. Half-Earth solution: Arguing that an exponentially rising extinction rate might easily wipe out most of the species still surviving at the present time, Harvard professor emeritus and Pulitzer Prize winner E.O. Wilson proposed that half of the planet’s surface should be committed to nature to save the immensity of life-forms that compose it. March 7

— Chuck Hagner, Editor

Birds in the news: 10 important stories from the beginning of March.

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