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Seagull Calling Contest

There are more than two dozen species of gulls living in North America. Some people might dismiss them as just “seagulls.” But not the people of Port Orchard, a small town on Washington State’s Puget Sound. Each year, hundreds of people gather at the town’s waterfront in late May for the annual... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  festival, humor, vocalization

Here Come the Merlins

Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins. Climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, but more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United States.... read more »

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Fastest Bird on Two Legs

Imagine an Ostrich, an Emu, a roadrunner, and the world’s fastest man and woman, all lined up for a race. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt holds the men’s record for the 100-meter dash — 28 mph — and Florence Griffith-Joyner ran it just a shade slower. But in this race, Africa’s Ostrich takes gold,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

Bee Hummingbird

The Bee Hummingbird, found only in Cuba, is the smallest bird in the world. An absolute miniature, even among hummingbirds, it measures only two and a quarter inches long. Often mistaken for bees, they weigh less than a dime. The female builds a nest barely an inch across, and lays eggs about the... read more »

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Cetti's Warbler

It took centuries to match the Cetti’s Warbler, a secretive singer, to its disembodied song. In 1819 Italian naturalist Alberto della Marmora was walking along the River Var, in France, when he heard a song he thought he recognized. One well-aimed shotgun blast later, and he knew for sure. He... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

Ospreys Head South

Ospreys may log more than 160,000 air miles over a lifetime. One female Osprey in Massachusetts, which researchers tagged in 2008 and named Penelope, headed south in early September, later reaching the Bahamas. After pausing in the Dominican Republic, she traveled to the Island of Birds, off... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Do Penguins Blush?

Humboldt Penguins living along the Pacific Coast of Chile and Peru are adapted to cold. But on land, temperatures rise to 100+ degrees, and penguins need to cool off. So these penguins have pink patches of bare skin on their face, under their wings, and on their feet. On hot days, the patches... read more »

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American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans have a nine-foot wingspan, nearly that of the California Condor. In summer, they breed mainly in the interior west of the United States and Canada, favoring shallow portions of lakes, marshes, and rivers, where they scoop fish from the water in the pouches of their beaks. read more »

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Playful Keas

Keas are large alpine parrots from New Zealand. Intelligent and social, they have olive-green plumage, a red rump, and a long, curved beak. Keas produce a distinct warbling call, a “play call,” that sounds — and functions — much like a human’s contagious laughter. Scientists made recordings of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording, vocalization

Who Likes Nectar?

Have you seen a larger bird dipping its sharp bill into your hummingbird feeder? It’s probably an oriole. These brightly colored birds winter in the tropics, where they often drink nectar from flowers. Tennessee Warblers — like this one — are often seen at flowers during migration. These birds... read more »

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