News about birds and birding in mid-June

pygmy-owls
A fledgling Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl at the Phoenix Zoo. Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Zoo

The news about birds and birding never quits. Here’s a roundup of 10 recent news stories.

Pygmy-owls hatch: Four Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls have hatched in captivity at the Phoenix Zoo. Two pairs of adult owls are caring for the nestlings at the Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Conservation Center. The owl chicks were produced as part of a pilot breeding program started by Wild at Heart Raptor Rescue in partnership with Arizona Game & Fish Department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wild at Heart has been breeding the owls since 2006, and some of their captive-hatched birds have been released into the wild. The expansion of the breeding program to the zoo is a step forward for ongoing efforts to help the subspecies, which numbers fewer than 100 wild birds in Arizona. (In 2013, BirdWatching readers ranked Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl eighth among the 10 bird species they want to see most.)

Reward in crane shooting: We recently noted the shooting of a Whooping Crane on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. The bird was part of the eastern migratory population and was found shot dead on May 5. The Whooping Crane Conservation Association and International Crane Foundation announced that they are offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Anyone with information concerning the shooting should contact the Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Goose beating in New Jersey: In late May, a worker at an industrial park in Lakewood, New Jersey, spotted an attack on a nesting Canada Goose. She took a photo of a family – a woman and several kids – going back to their van after a couple of the kids struck the goose and potentially took or damaged her eggs.

She posted the photo on Facebook, which got lots of attention. In this story from Jersey Shore Online, she explains seeing the family attacking the goose in the days before she took the photo.

Next boxes destroyed: This past weekend in Westerville, Ohio, 21 nest boxes were vandalized and destroyed. The boxes were part of an educational program through Worthington Park Elementary School. Nests of Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Carolina Chickadees, and House Wrens were lost.

The Columbus Police Department is investigating the incident. Anyone with information should contact the police at 614-645-4545, and reference report #190470278. Alternatively, contact the school at 614-450-5500.

On Tuesday, the Ohio Ornithological Society and the group Rogue Birders launched a campaign to raise funds to replace the nest boxes. By Wednesday morning, more than $980 had been raised.

Volunteer with Audubon Arkansas: In February, we reported on the threat of the herbicide dicamba to native plants. At the time, Audubon Arkansas was pushing the state’s Plant Board to restrict the use of the chemical, but the board ruled against the wishes of environmentalists.

Now, Audubon Arkansas is asking for volunteers to help survey public lands in areas of intensive soybean or cotton production in eastern Arkansas. The work will continue until August 1. 

Male Rose-throated Becard with a preying mantis at Tubac, Arizona. Photo by David Larson (Creative Commons)

Becards in Arizona: Rose-throated Becard, a medium-size songbird from Mexico and Central America, “has established a nesting foothold along the Upper Santa Cruz River between Tubac and Rio Rico, just north of Nogales,” Arizona, according to a recent story in the Arizona Daily Star. “Up to six nests have been seen there each year since 2017, birders and ornithologists say.”

It’s the only known place in the U.S. where the species breeds, although the becard is seen in the non-breeding season in South Texas.

Kestrels fledge in Cleveland: In late May, we reported on an American Kestrel nest in Cleveland that had put a building restoration project on hold. In early June, the young birds fledged, and all five were said to be hanging around in Cleveland with their parents.

Victory for Everglades restoration: Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it will give $60 million to Florida to help raise the highway called the Tamiami Trail that cuts through the Everglades. That money is in addition to $40 million from Florida’s legislature.

“Since it was opened in 1928, the roadway has acted as a dam, stopping the natural movement of water to the Glades and creating dry conditions that have contributed to wildfires and killed huge swaths of seagrass in Florida Bay,” writes the Fort Myers News-Press. “The money will be used to finish elevating the remaining 6.5 miles of roadway between two bridges built during the earlier phase and install six sets of concrete culverts between them.”

Milestone for endangered crow: Officials in Hawaii announced recently that the first recorded ʻAlalā nest in the wild has been seen in more than 20 years. The ʻAlalā, or Hawaiian Crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002. A pair of birds released in 2017 built the nest, and two other pairs have shown signs of nesting. For more info, visit the website of the ʻAlalā Project.

Audubon supports marine monument: Last week, the National Audubon Society filed a friend-of-the-court brief to protect the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument against a legal challenge from commercial fishing interests. The monument, located 130 miles east-southeast of Cape Cod, is the first and only national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The protected area is an important wintering area for Maine’s threatened Atlantic Puffins.

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Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of BirdWatching magazine and BirdWatchingDaily.com. He joined the staff of BirdWatching (formerly Birder’s World) in 2000 and has worn many hats over the years: reporter, story wrangler, photo editor, managing editor, and now editor. Originally from Omaha, he lives with his wife and two daughters in Milwaukee and holds a Bachelor’s in journalism from Marquette University. You can reach Matt at (617) 706-9098 and [email protected].

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