Lots of chemicals in the news last week: Corn farmers in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota who want to keep hungry Sandhill Cranes from eating their seeds received permission to apply a nonlethal biodegradable organic compound to the kernels. The International Crane Foundation helped develop the repellent. Peregrine Fund researchers in Pakistan announced that providing donkey carcasses reduced the exposure of White-rumped Vultures to diclofenac. Catastrophic declines in Slender-billed, Indian, and White-rumped Vultures have been attributed to the toxic anti-inflammatory drug. And only a month after it was reported that the eggs of Ivory Gulls contain higher concentrations of mercury than any other seabird in the Arctic, the Natural Resources Council of Maine announced that eggs laid by Peregrine Falcons in Maine and New Hampshire contain the highest levels of deca BDE ever recorded. The toxic chemical is used as a flame retardant in electronics, mattresses, and furniture.A Long-whiskered Owlet, an extremely rare resident of Peru, was seen in the wild for the first time since it was discovered in 1976. Its population is estimated to be fewer than 1,000 birds, and possibly as few as 250. Birdwatchers in Syria reported seeing the critically endangered Sociable Lapwing in February in flocks of more than 2,000 birds. The flocks were the largest in 10 years. A Nene (Hawaiian Goose) hatched March 15 at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's center at Martin Mere, north of Liverpool. And closer to home, the Whooping Cranes that hatched and raised a chick at Necedah NWR last summer, the so-called First Family, returned safely to Wisconsin with their youngster. The Loggerhead Kingbird departed Fort Zach in Key West just as a White Wagtail appeared in Pasco County (Tampa area). A lovely Black-headed Gull continued enjoying handouts at Montrose Harbor in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Eastern Phoebes returned to Wisconsin. American Woodcocks displayed in fields not far from where my daughter recently played in a basketball tournament. And officials at Orlando Sanford International Airport gave a preview of what we can expect later this year when and if the Bald Eagle is delisted: They sawed down trees containing eagle nests. The aviators-turned-lumberjacks said the birds pose a danger to aircraft -- and apparently didn't want to take the time to figure out what's attracting the eagles. -- C.H.