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State of the Birds

Sharp-tailed Grouse Dance

Dawn breaks over grassland in the northern Midwest and a dozen male Sharp-tailed Grouse, gathered closely together, face one another in a rough circle. Suddenly, as if in response to a movie director's call for "Action!" the grouse snap into a dance posture. Each bows, holds his wings stiffly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Probing with Sandpipers

The variety of bill sizes and shapes among the sandpipers is astounding! Many sandpipers have sensitive nerve receptors in their bill tips, so they can find unseen prey through touch, odor, and pressure changes. Those sandpipers with long, straight bills - like this Long-billed Dowitcher - are... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

A Baker and Farmer Help Sharp-tailed Grouse

A determined dry-land wheat farmer and a visionary baker are trying to help a bird in trouble, the Sharp-tailed Grouse. The farmer, Wade Troutman, leaves 30% of the land he farms in its natural condition. The undisturbed patches of sagebrush habitat provide cover and food for grouse and their... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Shorebirds in Kansas - Oval Migration Pattern

Almost half of all migratory shorebirds nesting in North America migrate through the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas. Almost all of the continent's Wilson's Phalaropes rest and refuel at the wetlands here. The birds fly a great oval route. In autumn, in the East, they head from... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Wood Thrush and Eastern Forests

The rich, fluting song of the Wood Thrush floats through an eastern deciduous forest. Unfortunately, forests at both ends of their winter and summer range are being cleared for pasture, agriculture, mining, and housing developments. We can help Wood Thrushes and forest birds everywhere by... read more »

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Bird-friendly Glass - Interview with Christine Sheppard

Why, when birds have such exceptional vision, do hundreds of millions die every year by slamming into glass windows? Christine Sheppard, who manages the Bird Collisions Campaign for American Bird Conservancy, explains: "Birds don't see glass. ... People don't see glass either, but people... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Wade Troutman and the Sharp-tailed Grouse

Eastern Washington wheat farmer, Wade Troutman (left), actively manages his farm to protect habitat for the Sharp-tailed Grouse. Jeff Weissman (right) buys Wade's wheat for his bakery in Seattle. Learn more about IRIS, Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship. Gathering Our Voice helps... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Trumpeter Swans - Knowledge Bringers

With up to nine-foot wingspans, Trumpeter Swans are the world's largest water birds. Watching them in flight brings us into the presence of what the poet Rilke called "a more powerful reality - rising and circling, poised but wild." But they came close to disappearing. Through the love, care, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, reflection

Saltmarsh Sparrow - Interview with Russ Greenberg

Imagine a heat wave, and your body covered in down and feathers. How do birds cope? Well, Saltmarsh Sparrows use their bills to shed excess heat. Russ Greenberg, head of the Migratory Bird Center of the Conservation Biology Institute at the Smithsonian, explains that these birds' bills convect... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Snail Kite - Bird of the Everglades

When Florida became a state in 1845, the legislature declared the Everglades, America's largest wetland, totally worthless. In 1905, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was elected governor on a campaign to drain them. So over the years, the slowly flowing "River of Grass" has been replaced by a series of... read more »

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