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State of the Birds

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

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

Sage Thrasher and Sagebrush

The glorious song of the male Sage Thrasher rings out every spring from tracts of sagebrush throughout the West. Sagebrush was once widespread in the Great Basin region, and so were the thrashers. But huge areas of sagebrush were turned into alfalfa and potato farms, and the songs of the thrasher... read more »

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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

Frank Bellrose and the Wood Ducks

In the 1800s, Wood Ducks were possibly the most abundant ducks east of the Mississippi. But the draining of wetlands, the cutting of forests, and market hunting caused precipitous declines. In 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act completely banned the hunting of Wood Ducks for 23 years. This... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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

Henry David Thoreau and the Wood Thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: "This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning." Wood Thrushes thrive in large expanses of forest. And their numbers have... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Operation Migration Update

Unlike many other birds that have an inherent sense of direction and destination, young Whooping Cranes have to learn their migration route from the adults. Enter Operation Migration and ultralight aircraft to lead the eastern population of cranes on their journey from Wisconsin to Florida!... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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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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 »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration

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