Important bird news from the beginning of February

Great White Pelican made bird news recently. This one was at J.N. Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, Florida, on February 1, 2017.
Great White Pelican made bird news recently. This one was at J.N. Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, Florida, on February 1, 2017. Photo by Lillian Stokes/Stokes Birding Blog.

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. Birdcrime in the UK: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reported that it had received 196 reports of shooting, trapping, and destruction of birds of prey and 50 reports of wildlife poisoning and pesticide-related offenses in 2015. The numbers were contained in Birdcrime 2015, the society’s annual summary of offenses in the UK. The authors acknowledged that the figures represent only a fraction of the actual number of crimes against wild birds. February 4

2. EPA termination planned: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) introduced a bill in the House (HR 861) calling for the termination of the Environmental Protection Agency on December 31, 2018. Republican congressmen Thomas Massie, of Kentucky, Steven Palazzo (Mississippi), and Barry Loudermilk (Georgia) co-sponsored the measure. February 3

3. Alaska’s new checklist: The University of Alaska Museum, in Fairbanks, released the 23rd edition of its Checklist of Alaska Birds (PDF). The latest list includes no fewer than 514 naturally occurring species in 66 families and 21 orders. The previous edition listed 505 naturally occurring species. February 2

Black-backed Oriole made bird news recently. This one was in Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania, on February 5, 2017.
Black-backed Oriole made bird news recently. This one was in Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania, on February 5, 2017. Photo by Randy Smith.

4. Selloff of federal land shelved: Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) announced that he would withdraw HR 621, his controversial bill that would have directed the interior secretary to sell 3.3 million acres of federally owned land in 10 western states. The plan provoked a fierce backlash from hunters, sportsmen and women, and conservationists. February 2

5. Reward grows for crane killer: The reward offered for information leading to the conviction of the person who killed Whooping Crane 4-11 in Greene County, Indiana, in early January has grown to $15,600. The crane, a female, learned its migration route by following the ultralight aircraft of Operation Migration. February 2

If you have information to share, please contact an Indiana conservation officer at (812) 837-9536.

6. Queen’s swans shot: As Queen Elizabeth II anticipated her Sapphire Jubilee, we learned that at least 12 of her Mute Swans were gunned down in the countryside just west of London. According to ancient tradition, the queen has a prerogative over all swans in England and Wales, and she maintains an officially appointed swan keeper. The birds that were shot were tagged with a ceremonial leg ring indicating their royal status. February 2

7. Florida’s great pelican: A Great White Pelican, a species normally found in Africa, Asia, and Europe, was spotted at J.N. Ding Darling NWR, in Sanibel, Florida, for the second time. The same species visited the refuge for three days in February and March last year. If accepted by the Florida Ornithological Society, the sighting would be a first for North America. February 1

See a photo of Sanibel’s 2016 Great White Pelican. See another.

8. Pennsylvania’s Mexican oriole: A Black-backed Oriole, a dashing species endemic to Mexico, was photographed in a yard in Berks County, northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If accepted, the record would be the first for the ABA Area. The species was once thought to be conspecific with Baltimore Oriole and is still occasionally treated as conspecific with Bullock’s Oriole. January 31

9. Hawaii fights invasives: Hawaii’s departments of Agriculture and Land and Natural Resources finalized a 10-year biosecurity plan to prevent non-native species from entering the state and establish a process for removing those that slip through the cracks. The Hawaiian islands have more endangered species than any other state and are also among the states with the most invasive species. January 30

10. Change of the guard: American Bird Conservancy announced that George Fenwick, the organization’s founder and president, is stepping down. A spokesman says the organization hopes to have a new president in place by summer 2017. January 24

This news roundup was prepared by Editor Chuck Hagner.

Year in review 2016: The 50 most important stories about birds and birders.

Important bird news from the middle of January.

Bird news from the end of December.

Follow us on Twitter.

Like BirdWatching on Facebook.


New to birdwatching?

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, descriptions of birding hotspots, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now.

See the contents of our current issue.

How to subscribe to BirdWatching.