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Important bird news from the end of October

Painted Redstart made bird news in October. This one was at Cave Springs Campground, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona, by Gary Botello.
Painted Redstart made bird news in October. This one was at Cave Springs Campground, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona, by Gary Botello.

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. Aloha, Hawaii: Members of the American Birding Association voted overwhelmingly to approve adding Hawaii to the ABA Area. The area is covered by the ABA Checklist and is the basis for many of the lists kept by birders. October 28

2. Militants go scot-free: A federal court jury acquitted anti-government militant leader Ammon Bundy and six followers of conspiracy charges stemming from their role in the armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon earlier this year. The defendants also were unanimously acquitted of illegal possession of firearms in a federal facility. October 27

What Malheur, and all national wildlife refuges, mean to birders (January 28, 2016).

3. First for Manitoba: Painted Redstart was found in Manitoba for the first time. The bird was seen and photographed in a yard in Pinawa, northeast of Winnipeg. October 27.

4. A new marine park: The world’s largest marine park was created in the Ross Sea, in the Southern Ocean. More than a million square kilometers of the sea — an area about the size of France and Spain combined — will be set aside as a no-take “general protection zone,” where no fishing will be allowed. Scientists consider the Ross Sea to be the last intact marine ecosystem on Earth. October 27

Whooping Cranes made bird news in October. This pair was at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, by mayhaga.
Whooping Cranes made bird news in October. This pair was at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, by mayhaga.

5. The amazing Common Swift: Researchers in Sweden announced that Common Swift is capable of flying for 10 months without once touching land. The swift makes a 10-month journey from northern Europe to central Africa and back each year. Data from tiny light sensors and accelerometers worn by 13 swifts showed that they spend 99.5 percent of their migration in the air. Three of the tracked birds never landed at all. October 27

Frigatebirds ride updrafts, stay aloft for weeks without flapping (June 30, 2016).

6. Our newest refuge: A national wildlife refuge was created in New York and five New England states. The new Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge includes 15,000 acres of mostly shrubland teeming with 136 types of animals and insects. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it also preserves habitat for numerous declining priority breeding landbirds, including Prairie Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler. October 26

What Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument means for birds (September 9, 2016).

7. Crane killer sentenced: Trey Joseph Frederick, 19 years old, was sentenced for shooting and killing two endangered Whooping Cranes in Jefferson County, Texas, in January 2016. Frederick was ordered to pay $25,850 restitution and perform 200 hours of community service. He was also ordered to turn over all firearms, he lost his hunting license for five years, and he was placed on probation for five years. October 25

8. More Night Parrots found: Researchers found a population of Night Parrots in Diamantina National Park, in central-west Queensland, Australia. The nocturnal bird had been considered extinct until 2013, when ornithologist John Young photographed it in the nearby Pullen Pullen Reserve. The new discovery expands the known range of the parrot and suggests that it may not be as rare as previously thought. October 25

9. Anti-cat fence completed: The largest cat-proof fence in the United States was completed in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on Hawaii Island. Five miles long, the fence is designed to protect the endangered Hawaiian Petrel, or ‘Ua‘u, from feral cats. October 24

Predator-proof fencing secures new home for Hawaii’s endangered petrels on Kaua’i (February 19, 2016).

10. First for Connecticut: Sprague’s Pipit, a western species, was found in Connecticut for the first time. The bird was photographed at Sherwood Island State Park, between Norwalk and Bridgeport. October 23

Bonus bird news

Sandpiper population estimated: Scientists calculated the world population of the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper for the first time. Researchers estimate that the breeding population in 2014 was 210-228 pairs. The post-breeding population was 661-718 individuals. The results represent the most accurate estimate of the sandpiper’s population to date. October 19

Firsts for Tennessee and Arizona: Brown Booby was spotted in Tennessee for the first time, at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge in Humphreys County on October 20. Also of note, Lesser Sand-Plover was found in Arizona for the first time. The bird was seen and photographed at Round Cedar Lake in Navajo Nation land near Flagstaff. October 2

— Chuck Hagner, Editor

Important bird news from early October.

Important bird news from the end of September.

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