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Shows With Contributions by Mike Hamilton

Where Do Fledglings Go?

By late summer, most birds hatched in spring are on their own, without help from their parents. Where do they go? Young migratory birds will head south in late summer or fall, in the pattern of their species. But most non-migratory birds born last spring — such as this immature Bewick’s Wren —... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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 distances... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Why Do Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers Look So Similar?

Generations of birders have puzzled over how to tell Downy Woodpeckers from Hairy Woodpeckers. The two species’ patterns of black and white feathers are so alike that it was long thought they were the closest of relatives. The two live in similar woods, nest in similar trees, and eat many of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  evolution

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 out... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Roseate Spoonbill

Of all the bold colors nature has bestowed on birds, bright pink may be the most surprising. And just about the hottest pink bird of all lives year round along the Gulf of Mexico — the Roseate Spoonbill. These birds stand out, especially when flying against a blue sky. And the spoon-shaped... read more »

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Where Birds Sleep

All birds need to sleep — or at least snooze — sometime during each 24-hour period. And most sleep at night. A bird (such as this Wood Duckling) may turn its head around and warm its beak under its shoulder-feathers. Songbirds find a protected perch, sheltered from rain and nighttime predators.... read more »

The Fine Art of Dabbling

Picture this Gadwall duckling swimming slowly across a pond, skimming the water’s surface with its broad, spatulate bill. This behavior is called dabbling. Along with the pond water, multitudes of tiny particles pass through the duck’s bill. Somehow it sorts out and swallows the edible seeds and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Why Is My Robin Half White?

If you see a bird with abnormal white feathers, like this American Robin, that bird may have a genetic condition called leucism. Leucistic birds, like all-white birds bred in captivity, have a genetic condition preventing pigments from reaching some — or sometimes all — of a bird’s feathers.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

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 these birds. A male may sing straight through the night. Marsh Wrens usually forage out of view, hopping up only for brief... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Great Egret's Lacy Courtship

Male Great Egrets have special long feather plumes called aigrettes, which they use in courtship displays in the spring. These beautiful big birds were nearly hunted to extinction for these special feathers, which were used to adorn ladies’ hats. The plight of the egret spurred people to organize... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  breeding display, plumage

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