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State of the Birds

White-throated Swifts

A pair of White-throated Swifts twists and turns, sailing through the air. Dashing headlong across the canyon toward an unyielding wall, the birds disappear at the last second into a slender crevice. This swift is aptly named — and doubly so. The White-throated Swift is among the fastest of all... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  flight

Aggressive Warblers and Climate Change

The territories of Townsend's Warblers and Hermit Warblers overlap in Washington State. Ornithologists call the overlap where the two species interbreed a "hybrid zone." The hybrids - like the one seen here - reveal characteristics of both. And they may also lend clues about our changing climate.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Wilson's Phalarope

If any bird is an anomaly, it's the Wilson's Phalarope. In a birdbook, Wilson's Phalaropes are found among the sandpipers. But they forage while swimming. Spinning like tops, they create an upwelling, pulling food to the surface. The breeding of Wilson's Phalaropes is anomalous, too. Females are... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  breeding display, migration

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 »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Willow Flycatchers nest across the northern two-thirds of the U.S. and southernmost Canada. A subspecies, known as the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, nests in the Southwest, as far east as Texas. The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher was listed as endangered in 1995. It's just one of 300 bird... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration

Short-tailed Albatross Chick Survives Tsunami

In January 2011, a pair of Short-tailed Albatrosses produced their first chick on Midway Atoll. Never before had this endangered bird bred outside of Japan. But in March, while the parents were foraging at sea, the tsunami that struck Japan also reached Midway, washing the chick off its nest.... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Sandhill Cranes - Interview with Hank Lentfer

Hank Lentfer, author and lifelong Alaskan, helped establish a 4,000-acre refuge for Sandhill Cranes—the Gustavus Forelands Preserve. Today, some 20,000 Sandhill Cranes use the preserve to rest and refuel. Along the way, they've helped Hank make his own journey—one from despair to hope. "It's easy... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Midway Project - The Plastic Gyre, with Chris Jordan

Artist Chris Jordan brings a deep energy to a huge environmental problem - the accumulation of plastic debris in the world's oceans. He's photographing its effect on the Laysan Albatrosses of Midway Island. Adult albatrosses mistake pieces of plastic for squid and fish and feed them to their... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Wood Storks and Climate Change

Wood Storks nest in trees, often in big colonies, and only when conditions are just right for them. Because of their feeding technique, they thrive in the early part of the dry season, when receding floodwaters concentrate fish in small pools. But this method of feeding is effective only when the... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Wetland Birds Thrive

While nearly a third of North American bird species are in decline, many birds that depend on wetlands are thriving. Duck breeding populations in 2009 were an estimated 25% above historical averages. Conditions on the breeding grounds have improved since the drought years of the 1980s, but human... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  human interaction

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