Birds were in the news quite a bit over the past two weeks. Here’s a recap of what Managing Editor Matt Mendenhall and I tweeted and retweeted about on the magazine’s Twitter feed:
The first Snowy Owls of the season were reported in numerous locations, including along the Cape May peninsula. A beautiful male Painted Bunting, a songbird normally seen this time of the year no farther north than southern Florida, was spotted in Sheila, in northeastern New Brunswick. (According to locals, between three and five buntings are seen in the province every three to five years.) And the site Ornithomedia.com reported that a record number of Common Cranes, more than 206,000, were at Lac du Der, in the Champagne region of France, on November 11. In an article in our December 2014 issue, on newsstands now, tour leader and writer Mark Hedden said the long-legged birds stage there in huge numbers while migrating. He wasn’t kidding.
A Painted Bunting has been spotted in Sheila, in northeastern New Brunswick. http://t.co/nhWuXWpDNb
— BirdWatchingMagazine (@BirdWatchDaily) November 15, 2014
— Ornithomedia (@Ornithomedia) November 12, 2014
In other good news, an Andean Condor, a critically endangered species, hatched at the ABC-supported Antisanilla Reserve in Ecuador. We wrote about the reserve recently in Eye on Conservation. Kim Kaufman, the tireless executive director of Ohio’s Black Swamp Bird Observatory, announced that a location much closer to home and closer to Kim’s heart, Magee Marsh, had been voted USA Today’s best birdwatching destination. And the Audubon Society reminded us that Project FeederWatch started on November 8. Have you signed up yet?
— American Bird Conservancy (@ABCbirds) November 20, 2014
Not all of the news we tweeted about was good. Scientists from several groups, including the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada, for example, announced that the number of polar bears in eastern Alaska and western Canada has declined by 40 percent, while health officials reported that 800,000 people had contracted chikungunya in the Caribbean this year. Similar to dengue, the mosquito-borne illness causes fever and muscle pain that is sometimes severe.
Scientists with the Nature Conservancy in California said the number of Sandhill Cranes on Staten Island in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has doubled this year, most likely as a result of the ongoing drought. And we learned that weather is affecting North America’s other crane, too. After spending 34 days on the road but traveling only 52 miles, Operation Migration announced on November 12 that it would pack its aircraft, load this year’s class of Whooping Cranes into vans, and drive to Carroll County, Tennessee, where they plan to resume flying.
— BirdWatchingMagazine (@BirdWatchDaily) November 16, 2014
Finally, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario urged the province to ban neonicotinoid pesticides. In July, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had announced that it would phase out the use of the pesticides throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System — a good thing, we think, since a paper published that month in the journal Science had linked the insecticides to declining populations of insect-eating birds.
And speaking of the Fish and Wildlife Service, it declared the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as Threatened. The service had announced last month that it would list the western population of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo as Threatened, too. — Chuck Hagner, Editor
— BirdWatchingMagazine (@BirdWatchDaily) November 12, 2014