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The most important bird news from early August

Bird news: American White Pelicans fly over Penticton, British Columbia.
American White Pelicans near Penticton, British Columbia, by Laure Wilson Neish.

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. Trash birds: Researchers said they were finding bottle caps, coffee cup lids, packing tape, wire, foil, Styrofoam pellets, and other trash in the stomachs of Long-tailed Ducks, loons, and other freshwater birds across Canada. “Finding that in freshwater birds surprised us quite a bit,” said one of the researchers. August 5

2. Bird-stadium collision study: The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced that it will study bird-glass collisions at just-opened U.S. Bank Stadium, in downtown Minneapolis. Among the building’s design features is a massive wall of glass that bird and wildlife advocates fear could be a “death trap” for birds that migrate along the Mississippi River corridor. August 4

3. A million users: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology announced that Merlin, its bird-identification tool, had been used by more than a million birders in just two and half years. The app was launched in January 2014. August 4

4. Sleeping while flying: Researchers discovered for the first time that birds can sleep in flight. An international team measured the brain activity of frigatebirds and found that they sleep in flight with either one cerebral hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously. August 3

Bird news: Carolina Chickadee with a deformed bill in Spring Hill, Florida
Carolina Chickadee with a deformed bill in Spring Hill, Florida, by hunter58.

5. First for ABA Area: An Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, a species normally found in Mexico and northern Central America, was photographed in Saguenay County, Quebec. The species had never been recorded in the ABA Area before. July 30


6. Pelicans push ever eastward:  American White Pelicans were found nesting in Lake Erie for the first time. Several nests were discovered on Big Chicken Island, located about seven nautical miles west of Pelee Island, in western Lake Erie. The birds have been expanding their range throughout the last decade, nesting in Lake Superior, Lake Nipigon, and James Bay. July 28

7. Beak-deforming virus identified  Researchers announced that they had identified a virus that has been linked to the disease responsible for grossly deformed beaks. The disease was first documented among Black-capped Chickadees in south-central Alaska during the 1990s and then spread into Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Bill deformities have also been reported throughout the lower forty-eight states. July 26

8. China’s wetlands paved: According to a satellite survey of coastal China, nearly 7,700 square kilometers of wetlands — about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined — were lost to land-reclamation projects in the country between 1985 and 2010. The wetlands previously provided valuable habitat for countless birds and other coastal wildlife. July 27


9. Big Year record broken twice: Two birders — Olaf Danielson and John Weigel — broke Neil Hayward’s North American Big Year record of 749 species, and they did it less than seven months into the year, and within two days of each other. Weigel spotted his 750th species, a Buller’s Shearwater, on July 16. Danielson saw his 750th, Red-faced Cormorant, on July 18. July 26

10. Starving auklets: Citizen scientists on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula, in Washington, and across the water in Victoria, British Columbia, have found dozens of dead Rhinoceros Auklets washed up on shore this summer. “They had zero body fat,” said a biologist with the University of Washington. “They definitely starved to death.” Scientists can’t yet say why the birds are starving. July 16

Expanding eastward: American White Pelican is now breeding in Wisconsin (June 2014).


Pelican-tracking project uncovers impact of Gulf oil spill in Minnesota (June 2016).

See photos of American White Pelican.

The most important bird news from late July.

Important bird news from early July.


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