Birds made headlines over the past two weeks. Here’s a recap of what Managing Editor Matt Mendenhall and I tweeted and retweeted about:
A very rare Common Crane was photographed at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. The species breeds from northern Europe to northern Eurasia, which we’re pretty sure isn’t anywhere near Muleshoe. Also notable, 14 young Whooping Cranes were released at the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area near Gueydan, Louisiana, bringing the state’s population to 40. The species had disappeared from the state by 1950, the victim of habitat loss and hunting.
Even cooler, the Laysan Albatross known as Wisdom, the world’s oldest banded wild bird, and easily the most inspiring, returned to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Wisdom has raised between 30 to 35 chicks since being banded in 1956 at an estimated age of 5.
— Prof Brendan Godley (@BrendanGodley) December 2, 2014
A Great Horned Owl was filmed swimming in Lake Michigan — yes, swimming — and a European Robin showed up in Beijing, China. Yes, in China. That’s interesting enough, but what really caught our eye is that the robin attracted hundreds and hundreds of photographers and unprecedented attention in the Chinese media — and that four weeks later, interest in the bird hasn’t subsided.
Amazing video of a Great Horned Owl swimming. http://t.co/oKyxsV7qQm
— BirdWatchingMagazine (@BirdWatchDaily) December 3, 2014
Not all the news was good. Fundación ProAves reported that more than 200 of the 1,903 bird species recorded in Colombia are threatened with extinction. Just as bad, Colorado’s feckless Parks and Wildlife Commission voted against prohibiting lead ammunition for big-game hunting in Colorado.
Dead Cassin’s Auklets continue to wash ashore in California, Oregon, and Washington. Scientists think a period of ocean warming and the disappearance of krill, a major food source, are to blame. And things have gotten so bad for Tricolored Blackbird that it had to be granted Endangered status on a temporary, emergency basis in California. The bird will be protected for six months.
We named a photo of a Snowy Owl our Photo of the Week. Mike Busch let us know that the owls showed up on Fire Island, along the coast of Long Island, NY. And the remarkable Snowy known as Milcreek became the first of Project SNOWstorm’s 2013-14 class to migrate south again. He had been tagged January 20 in Erie, Pennsylvania, and was last heard from on April 23, when he was loafing on the fast-disappearing ice of Lake Erie, off the Buffalo waterfront.
— Mike Busch/Greatsouthbayimages (@GSBImagesMBusch) November 26, 2014
The Xerces Society shared the good news that big-box retailer HomeDepot is requiring all plants that have been treated with neonicotinoids to bear a special tag. And the government of Ontario moved to reduce the use of neonicotinoids by 80 percent by 2017. The goal is to limit the number of honey bees that die during winter by 15 percent by 2020.
Just as promising is the news that the U.S. Senate has approved the 2014 Federal Duck Stamp Act, clearing the way (pending signature by the president) for the price of a stamp to rise from $15 to $25, which is a good thing. Dan Ashe, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, had tweeted earlier that raising the stamp’s price would enable the service to protect about 17,000 more acres of waterfowl habitat every year.
Finally, we were happy to let everyone know that we sent our February issue to the printer. You won’t want to miss it. — Chuck Hagner, Editor
We just finished work on our February 2015 issue. You'll be able to find it on newsstands right after New Year's.
— BirdWatchingMagazine (@BirdWatchDaily) December 5, 2014