Shows With Contributions by Frances Wood

A Western Tanager with bright yellow plumage and red head on the left, a Scarlet Tanager with red body and black wings on the right.

Tanagers - Coffee Birds

This Scarlet Tanager (R), its cousin the Western Tanager (L), and your latte have a connection. Much of the birds' prime wintering habitat has been turned into coffee plantations. When shade-giving trees are cut down to grow coffee in direct sunlight, the tanagers' winter habitat is also
Brown Pelican diving

How Brown Pelicans Dive

Brown Pelicans fly just above the surface of the water. They circle high, then diving headfirst, plunge under water to catch fish. But doesn't that hurt? Several adaptations protect pelicans as they dive. First, they have air sacs beneath the skin on their breasts, which act as cushions
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
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 Crow in closeup, it's head turned toward its left shoulder, feathers gleaming in the sun

The Crafty American Crow

Crows. Large, black, noisy. The raucous birds of the neighborhood. Some people love them; others aren't so sure. American Crows are crafty and resourceful. Crows have adapted to our modern world. For one thing, they, too have a taste for fast food. Watch for crows at your local fast food
A Red-tailed Hawk perched on a fence, its back to the camera, looking over its left shoulder

Red-tailed Hawk, Bulky Bird

The Red-tailed Hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America. Red-tails often perch on fence posts in rural areas or even atop lights along the roadway. Watch for a large, bulky, football-shaped bird with a small dark head and a rusty-red tail. These hawks visit open fields
Two Rock Pigeons perched side by side on a wire in sunshine

Rock Pigeon, Urban Bird

The Rock Pigeon is the quintessential urban bird. Early European settlers at Jamestown and Plymouth introduced it to North America in the 1600s, and it is now found across the entire country. Flocks roam parks and city streets and sit on wires and billboards. Be part of our flock of
Blue Jay in closeup

Jaywalking

In 1917, cars had only recently become common, and stepping out into traffic was dangerous. Back then, the term "jay" was slang for a hick, a country bumpkin. Bostonians with little tolerance for rural folk coined the term "jaywalker" to describe someone green to the ways of the city and
Brown Pelican feathers in close up view

How Feathers Insulate

A single Canada Goose has between 20 and 25 thousand feathers. Some are designed to help the bird fly or shed water. Many are the short, fluffy kind, the down that insulates the bird from the cold. Birds survive in sub-zero weather by fluffing their feathers, creating layers of air and
Northern Flicker

Why Birds' Feet Don't Freeze

Have you ever watched ducks walking around in freezing temperatures and wondered why their feet don't freeze? And how do birds, including this Northern Flicker, sit on metal perches with no problem? Birds' feet have a miraculous adaptation that keeps them from freezing. Rete mirabile —