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migration

Tune Up Your Ears - East

By March in the East, cardinals and other songbirds that don't migrate are already singing heartily to attract mates. Many other birds - including this Yellow Warbler - will return north from the tropics in April and May, announcing themselves in song as soon as they arrive in nesting areas. Now... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Swallows and Mud - A Myth?

The swallows that make mud nests in spring and catch flying insects all summer are now far south in Mexico, and Central and South America. It's only as recently as the end of the nineteenth century that ornithologists agreed that swallows, including this Cliff Swallow, migrate. Many formerly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, myth

Tree Swallow Roost

As the sun sets over the Connecticut River, as many as 300,000 Tree Swallows gather on the wing in one huge, tightly choreographed flock. With dusk at hand, the aerobatic flock - now shaped like a tornado - swoops down into the tall reeds. It takes but 15 seconds for the 300,000 birds to vanish... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Tanagers - Coffee Birds

This Scarlet Tanager (R), its cousin the Western Tanager (L), and your latte have a connection. Much of the birds' prime wintering habitat has been turned into coffee plantations. When shade-giving trees are cut down to grow coffee in direct sunlight, the tanagers' winter habitat is also removed.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Vultures Sail the Strait

From atop a thermal, Turkey Vultures in groups of up to 200 sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, making landfall near Salt Creek County Park on the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society sponsors a free field trip to witness this autumnal passage. Check out that or other... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Swainson's Thrush, Power Napper

When the Swainson's Thrush departs its wintering grounds in Mexico or South America, it travels at night. When does it sleep? Recent research by scientists at Bowling Green State University suggests that during migration, Swainson's Thrushes take hundreds of "power naps," lasting only a few... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Early Spring Songs (SE Alaska)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in the SE Alaska are American Dipper (left), American Robin, and American Tree Sparrow. Listen to the songs of these early spring songsters and thousands of others at Cornell University's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (Washington State)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in the Northwest is this House Finch, whose sweet, jumbled song carries along city blocks and rocky canyons. And spring songs are breaking out all over the country. Listen to the song of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

The Lobstick Family of Whooping Cranes

The celebrities of the Whooping Crane world have to be the Lobstick family, named for the Lobstick marshes where they nest in Canada. The Lobstick male, at 33, is the oldest Whooping Crane in the wild whose age we know for certain. And Tom Stehn of the US Fish and Wildlife Service tells us the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Spring Brings New Bird Songs

All winter long, our neighborhood House Finches--like this one--have called to one another with their distinctive, sweet cheeps. And our resident Song Sparrows, with calls that sound like a tiny barking dog. But as the days grow longer in late winter, the lengthening light helps trigger a bird's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

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