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Some Good Bird News (For Once)


Sorry I skipped a week of my column. I’ve been busy at work and night school, plus I’ve been getting some really good bird luck.It’s migration season in New Jersey, and it’s an unusually good one, thanks to some perfect weather. I added the chestnut-sided warbler and yellow-billed cuckoo to my life list, and I said hello to all the species that I see only twice a year, like the yellow-rumped warbler, ruby and golden-crowned kinglets and yellow warbler.

Some good bird news from around the globe:
From Scotland, I am happy to report that the population of corncrakes is on the rise. Corncrakes are related to coots and moorhens, but unlike those birds, live only on land. They are not to be confused with cornflakes or corncakes!

At one point these were common birds in Great Britain, but, like many bird species, suffered devastating population losses in the early 20th century. Corncrakes need to nest in tall grasses or even wheat fields (wheat is called “corn” in England; apparently what I call “corn” is called “maize” across the Atlantic.) Since the 90’s, the government has paid farmers to harvest their wheat/corn in a way that is “corncrake friendly.” Farmers now harvest their wheat after nesting season, and drive their tractors from the inside to the outside, which gives any late nesters a chance to escape.

There are now about 1200 calling males, a gain of 66 from the previous year. It is unknown how many females there are, since they are, according to experts, too quiet and shy to locate.

From Florida, I am happy to report that six stolen black swans (say that fast) have been returned home. Unfortunately, two others remain missing.

The eight swans lived in Lake Eola in Orlando. One of them, Bruno, is blind, and serves as the city’s mascot.

The reason behind this nefarious deed was pure greed: it seemed that the suspect (who has not been named) was able to sell three of them for an undisclosed amount of cash. The buyer realized that he had bought the stolen birds and returned them to the Orlando police.

While all six swans are generally healthy, they were underweight and dehydrated when found, and one of them is still recovering at a veterinarian’s office in the Orlando area.

If anyone reading this can provide any information about the two swans still missing, please call the Orlando Florida police department. There are several numbers for this large department, but a good place to start would be the information desk. Its number is (407) 246-2470.

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