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Birds we tweeted about during the first two weeks of February

Chestnut-collared Longspur near Moorehead, Minnesota, June 17, 2014, by Joshua Galicki.

We were happy to see tweets about one of our favorite species, Chestnut-collared Longspur, over the last two weeks. One was found in Washington County, Maryland, far east of its usual range.

The longspur wasn’t the only vagrant to catch our attention: A Pink-footed Goose, a European species, was spotted in Riverhead, on Long Island. A Common Scoter was photographed in Crescent City, in northern California, perhaps for the first time in the ABA Area. The duck, recently split from Black Scoter, breeds in western Eurasia. And we learned that the year is shaping up as a good one for Gyrfalcon sightings. Eighteen of the Arctic falcons have been recorded east of the Dakotas so far, according to Alex Lamoreaux.

Our friends at the American Ornithologists’ Union and the Cooper Ornithological Society launched a new joint website, and, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, an exhibition of art featuring birds entered its final weeks. “The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art” closes February 22.

We were struck, once again, by the power of the federal government. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to shoot, oil, and otherwise kill 11,000 Double-crested Cormorants in Oregon, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced a $2 million plan to restore more than 200,000 acres of monarch butterfly breeding habitat of Texas and Oklahoma.

And just as we were coming to grips with the idea that a Whooping Crane had been shot in Louisiana in November, we learned that a Whooping Crane found dead on Aransas Bay, in Texas, in early January had probably been shot, too. A sizable reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Just as distressing, Philip Round, the British ornithologist who rediscovered Gurney’s Pitta in Thailand three decades ago, announced that the species may now be extinct. Only 20 of the secretive birds were thought to remain in 2011. None has been seen since February 2014.

Finally, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences shared the story of Postel, a satellite-tagged Whimbrel that migrates every year between Maranhoa, Brazil, and the tundra near Canada’s Hudson Bay. Amazingly, the shorebird has flown more than 18,000 miles during three migratory cycles.

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Originally Published

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