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endangered species

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

A male Buff-breasted Sandpiper courts a female on their breeding grounds far north of the Arctic Circle. He raises his wings, flashing their silvery-white undersides, as he sings his clicking serenade. These birds spend much of the year on grasslands in Argentina, migrating to the Arctic in late... read more »

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Aplomado Falcon

Aplomado Falcons were once widespread residents of the American Southwest, but by the 1950s, they'd disappeared entirely from the region. Loss of habitat, loss of prey, and pesticides all played a role. But in the 1980s, a group called The Peregrine Fund began breeding captive Aplomado Falcons.... read more »

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Unique Chaparral

The dense cover of coastal chaparral supports many birds found nowhere else in the world, including this California Thrasher. The plant species are different, but the chaparral of California is much like shrubby coastal vegetation in southern Europe, South Africa, southern Australia, and Chile.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Mysterious Disappearance of Evening Grosbeaks

In 1987, when Project FeederWatch began, Evening Grosbeaks were among the most common birds at birdfeeders during the Northeast winter. Now they're completely absent in many of those same areas. In the West, too, they're showing up in reduced numbers. Why have so many Evening Grosbeaks... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, citizen science

The Arctic Plain in June

In early June, millions of birds arrive on the Arctic Coastal Plain in Alaska, from all over the world. They're there to attract a mate and raise their young. One shorebird, the Pectoral Sandpiper, has a pectoral sac on its chest. It stands on the ground and inflates this sac, and then takes off... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting

American Bittern - Thunder-Pumper

The American Bittern's deep, resonant calls have earned it the nicknames "thunder-pumper" and "stake-driver." Bitterns nest in marshes throughout much of Canada, and they winter along both US coasts south into Central America. But bitterns are in serious trouble as breeding birds in the US,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Endangered Plovers

Strolling at sunset along the ocean beach at California's Morro Bay or Washington's Leadbetter Point, you hear a male Snowy Plover. At Milford Point in Connecticut, you might hear a Piping Plover. Plovers are threatened in much of their coastal ranges. Conservation efforts are afoot on the... read more »

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Marbled Murrelets

In recent decades, the number of Marbled Murrelets, a seabird of the Pacific coast, has declined. Scientists in Canada and the US have analyzed the chemical composition of murrelet feathers - some from birds carefully preserved since 1894 by the Burke Museum in Seattle. The analysis shows that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Aldo Leopold and the Field Sparrows

The Field Sparrow was the first bird song Aldo Leopold awoke to on his farm in the 1940s. In his Sand County Almanac, a classic of conservation and nature writing, Leopold brought to life scenes of nature, a month at a time. Field Sparrows aren't as common today as they were in Aldo Leopold's day... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Spring Birds Arrive in the Eastern Forest

May in an Eastern hardwood forest, and the chorus of spring birdsong is nearing its peak. The Carolina Wren, a year-round resident, has been singing since the end of winter. The resounding notes of this Ovenbird let us know it has returned safely from Belize, after a long flight across the Gulf... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

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