Shows With Contributions by Mike Hamilton

Singing Song Sparrow

How Birds Produce Sound

Nearly all birds produce sound through an organ unique to birds, the syrinx. In many songbirds, the syrinx is not much bigger than a raindrop. Extremely efficient, it uses nearly all the air that passes through it. By contrast, a human creates sound using only 2% of the air exhaled through
American Robin perched

Cheery American Robin

What was the first bird you noticed as a child? Perhaps you heard the cheery song of the American Robin coming from the top of a nearby tree. Or maybe you saw a robin running and pausing on the lawn, cocking its head before extracting a fat, juicy worm from the ground. The robin is often
Tree Swallow peering out of nestbox

Tree Swallows March North

Every March sees the annual spring migration of Tree Swallows. Most of these swallows spend the winter along the Caribbean, in Central America, and in the warmest parts of South Texas and California. Some will nest as far north as northern Alaska and Canada. Tree Swallows nest only in
Mallard pair female left, male right

Everybody Knows a Mallard

Mallards are found virtually everywhere there is open water, from city parks and subalpine lakes to sheltered bays and estuaries along the coasts. In their breeding plumage, male Mallards are avian dandies. The male's primary goal is to attract a mate and defend the breeding territory. The
American Robin in hawthorn berries

Robins and Berries in Winter

It's mid-winter, and a passing flock of robins suddenly drops out of the sky. A moment ago, the yard was empty of birds, but now it's full. They settle in a bush laden with fruits (like this hawthorne). When the robins pass over a fruiting shrub, those red berries signal like a neon sign
Flicker showing white in rump

The Flicker's White Rump

When a Northern Flicker takes flight, a bold patch of white feathers flashes on its rump, in contrast to its brown body. This white rump likely evolved as an anti-predator adaptation. A hawk flying in pursuit of a flicker may focus on the white spot rather than the darker image of the
American Robin on a branch with berries

Birds and Berries

Henry David Thoreau wrote, "Our little mountain-ash is all alive with [birds.] A dozen robins on it at once ... plucking the berries... A robin will swallow half a dozen berries, at least, in rapid succession..." If you, too, enjoy watching birds eat berries, then consider planting trees
Red-shouldered Hawk

Climate Change and Range Expansion

In the past few decades, a number of species have spread north from California into Oregon, Washington, and even to British Columbia. Red-shouldered Hawks, Black Phoebes, Lesser Goldfinches, and others that were rare in Washington State 20 years ago now turn up regularly. One common
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