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The 10 most important news stories from the end of April

Piping Plover at Barnegat Light, New Jersey, by Harry Collins.
Piping Plover at Barnegat Light, New Jersey, by Harry Collins.

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

1. An early start for a threatened shorebird: Piping Plovers returned to Sauble Beach, in southwestern Ontario, on April 26, and the first Piping Plover nests of 2016 were discovered at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, in Michigan, on May 1. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service lists the species as Threatened everywhere but in the Great Lakes watershed, where it is Endangered.

See photos of Piping Plover.

2. Ornithologist enters hall of fame: Dr. Noel J. Cutright, past president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, co-author and senior editor of the first Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, and founder of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. April 30

The Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory.

Ornithologist Edward H. “Jed” Burtt Jr., of Ohio Wesleyan University.
Ornithologist Edward H. “Jed” Burtt Jr., of Ohio Wesleyan University.

3. Farewell to a beloved ornithologist: Edward H. “Jed” Burtt Jr. died on April 27. Burtt was a past president of the Wilson Ornithological Society and American Ornithologists’ Union, a recipient of the prestigious Margaret Morse Nice Medal, and a co-author of the book Alexander Wilson: The Scot Who Founded American Ornithology (Belknap Press, 2013).

4. Merlins return to Iowa: For the first time in 108 years, Merlins were found to be nesting in Iowa. The birds took over a crow’s nest in a spruce near a cemetery on the northeast side of Iowa City. The small, dark falcons breed in a variety of habitats in and around open areas in Alaska, Canada, and parts of northern and western United States and have been wintering in Iowa for several years. April 26

See reader photos of Merlin.

5. The new Junior Duck Stamp: A portrait of Snow Geese by 16-year-old Stacy Shen, of Fremont, California, won the national Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest. The painting, which shows a pair of geese swimming on bright blue water, will appear on the 2016-17 federal Junior Duck Stamp. April 22

6. You can now cruise to Cuba: Cuba lifted a decades-old restriction that prevented Cubans from entering or leaving the country by cruise ship or commercial vessel. The reversal prevented Carnival Cruise Lines from delaying its May 1 inaugural cruise to Cuba, the first by an American cruise ship in 50 years. April 22

143 species recorded during February bird survey in Cuba.

7. Record number of cranes: Aerial surveys conducted over the winter near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, in Texas, yielded 329 Whooping Cranes, including 38 juveniles. “This is the highest survey estimate ever documented for this population of Whooping Cranes,” stated the species recovery coordinator. Surveys conducted last year estimated 308 cranes. April 19

8. Golden Eagles on the move: Hawk counters at Gunsight Mountain, northeast of Anchorage, Alaska, reported large numbers of migrating Golden Eagles in March, peaking at 229 in one day, as well as hundreds of Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawks, more than 200 dark and light morph Rough-legged Hawks, and over 50 Northern Goshawks. April 19

9. Course correction for national parks: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that national parks were visited 307 million times last year, a record, and generated $32 billion in economic activity for the nation, yet the maintenance backlog was nearly $12 billion  in 2015. April 19

10. Hummingbirds reach Alaska: Journey North reported that Rufous Hummingbirds had arrived near Valdez, in south-central Alaska. April 16

Read an article about Rufous Hummingbird’s amazing annual migration to Alaska.

See photos of Rufous Hummingbird.

The 10 most important stories from the beginning of April.

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