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State of the Birds

Piping Plovers on the Beach - Interview with Patrick Comins

Young Piping Plovers hatch in early summer, in competition for use of the beach. Patrick Comins, Director of Conservation for Audubon Connecticut, says if there were no fences or exclosures, it would be very easy to step on the eggs. "You can hardly see them. We have to put up little cages around... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Hovering with Horned Larks

Horned Larks rival meadowlarks as the most colorful birds of North American grasslands. They live in prairies, fields, and tundra, but agriculture and development now intrude on many of the Horned Lark's traditional nesting areas. The farmland Conservation Reserve Program encourages agricultural... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Pelicans Go Fishing

Unlike Brown Pelicans, which dive from above to capture fish, White Pelicans feed by forming a group. They swim in a line, and—while herding a school of fish—all dip their heads at once. The pelican's broad bill spreads its huge pouch, as the bird pushes through the water. As each bird lifts its... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

What Sudden Oak Death Means for Birds

A California landscape - rolling hills dotted with oak trees. One year-round resident is the Oak Titmouse. In 1985, a pathogen called Sudden Oak Death began attacking California oaks. As the oaks die, they're cut down in an effort to stop the spread of the pathogen. But Oak Titmice require... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening, science

Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs

The Red Knot returns to the Delaware Bay each May to feed. These sandpipers are on their way to their nesting grounds in the northern Arctic and stop here to refuel - their stopover coincides with the spawning of horseshoe crabs. But beginning in the 1980s, vast numbers of the crabs were... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Marsh Wren

Some bird-lovers have tagged the Marsh Wren the "Heinz-57 variety bird," because scientists have recorded 57 different variations of its song. And nightfall doesn't faze them. A male may sing straight through the night. Marsh Wrens usually forage out of view, hopping up only for brief moments.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Marbled Murrelet - Interview with Martin Raphael

The endangered Marbled Murrelet is a bird of two worlds. Martin Raphael, a biologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, explains: "It lives in the marine world. But then it nests on the limbs of large, old trees. Its fate is tied not only to the fate of the trees, but also on marine... read more »

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Habitat Restoration on the Gulf

The natural habitats of the Gulf Coast are critical to birds migrating between North, Central, and South America. With the BP oil spill, restoring Gulf-coast habitat has taken on new urgency. The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program is restoring habitat and rejuvenating the maritime... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Long-billed Curlew - Singing over the Grassland

The Long-billed Curlew is North America's largest shorebird, seen here in its breeding habitat, a western grassland. They may be the largest, but they're also among the rarest. Their numbers are declining as arid grasslands disappear. Because curlews depend on very different environments for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, migration

The COASST Program - Interview with Julia Parrish

In the late 1990s, Julia Parrish started the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team or COASST. Julia says: "We train people to go out to their local beach and survey it. They are looking for birds that have literally washed in on the last tide. COASST offers people a chance to learn more... read more »

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