Shows With Contributions by Mike Hamilton

Goldfinch, molt comparison

August Molt

By August, many birds have just completed the intense rigors of nesting and raising young and now undergo a complete molt. Molt is a cyclic process of feather growth. As new feathers grow in, they push the old ones out. Why molt? Because feathers wear out. Songbirds that migrate long
Female Red-winged Blackbird

Birdwatching 104 - A Summary

How do birdwatchers identify one species from another? First, they look carefully at the bird. What's the overall color? Is its bill long or short, thin or stout? What about its markings -- a ring around its eye or stripe on its head? What's your bird doing? Bird behavior can help you sort

Backyard Bird Science

One of the best studies of a North American bird ever written was published by a citizen-scientist named Margaret Morse Nice. Margaret Nice banded more than 800 Song Sparrows in a 40-acre tract in Ohio. Most of us have neither the time nor the 40 acres, but there is still much we can do
Male Anna's Hummingbird at feeder

Hummingbird Feeder Homebrew

The familiar components of a hummingbird feeder include a bottle, sugar water, and something red to attract the birds. (But not the water, please! Food coloring can be harmful to hummers. Here's a healthy recipe.) Feeding hummingbirds such as this Anna’s Hummingbird may seem like a recent
European Starlings

European Starling Nightmare

You can find European Starlings in huge flocks from coast to coast, and from Northern Canada deep into Mexico. Yet not one of these iridescent-black, yellow-billed starlings is native to the Americas. One hundred starlings were released in Central Park in New York City in 1890. From that
Female Downy Woodpecker

Flocking and Foraging

In winter, a foraging flock might include several species of birds: chickadees, kinglets, and even a Downy Woodpecker. Many bird species eat alone, so you might wonder why these birds have chosen to dine together. Different species foraging in a group to find food enhances the success of
Pileated Woodpecker showing nictitating membrane

Nictitating Membranes - Nature's Goggles

For most birds, keen eyesight is critical for survival. But many birds lead lives that can be very hard on the eyes — like flying at breakneck speed, racing for cover into a dense thicket, or diving under water to capture prey. Imagine how the chips fly as this Pileated Woodpecker chisels
Female finches at a bird feeder

Why Do Birds Come to Birdfeeders?

A tube of black oil sunflower seeds isn’t “natural”…and neither is a suet cake. Yet as soon as you hang them up, the neighborhood birds, like these female finches, find them. Those grosbeaks at your feeder probably never ate sunflower seeds in nature. Sunflowers grow in open plains, while
New year dawn

A New Year Dawns

Listen to the earth awaken, as dawn circles the globe. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton recorded these sounds around the globe. He's with SoundTracker.
Flock of Snow Geese in flight

Snow Geese: Too Much of a Good Thing

When small family farms gave way to large, industrial agricultural operations, the Snow Geese followed. Waste grain left over from harvests has allowed Snow Goose populations to jump. Now, there are so many Snow Geese they degrade their Arctic summer habitat, threatening other birds. Is