Shows With Contributions by Bob Sundstrom

Pileated Woodpecker nest with parent and chicks

What's Inside a Woodpecker's Nest Hole?

Many woodpeckers chisel out deep cavities in tree trunks in order to lay their eggs and raise their brood. The cavities hollowed out by the birds vary in size, depending on the species of woodpecker. The chamber of a tiny Downy Woodpecker descends about a foot from the opening, while the
A Tricolored Blackbird seen in right profile, its black body shining in the sun, the wing showing a red patch with a white line beneath it.

Tricolored Blackbirds Face the Future

Tricolored Blackbirds nest primarily in California, but smaller groups breed from the state of Washington to Mexico’s Baja California. They look a lot like Red-winged Blackbirds, except Tricolored males have dark red epaulets and white bars on their wings instead of scarlet epaulets and
Brown-headed Nuthatch perched on a log, seen in left profile

A Tool-Using Nuthatch

The nuthatch’s beak is all business. Long, slender, sharp: it can pluck a tiny spider from a crevice in the bark or carve a nest hole right through the outer hide of a tree. And the Brown-headed Nuthatch is even known to use tools! Picking up a flake of pine bark in its beak, the bird uses
Adult Cooper's Hawk compared to a juvenile Cooper's Hawk

The Color of Birds' Eyes

Peer into the world of birds, and eyes of many different colors peer back. While eye color isn’t tied to one group of birds or another, a common pattern is a change in eye color as immature birds grow to adulthood. Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, and ducks such as goldeneyes and scaup have
A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak perched on a leafy branch, his red breast glowing amidst his white plumage and glossy black head.

High Island, Texas

Each spring, millions of songbirds migrate north from the New World tropics to nest in North America. It takes 15 hours on average to cross the roughly 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico. If wind or rain slows the crossing, the birds are worn out and famished when they reach land. What will
Black-capped Chickadee calling

Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons

In higher animals, the brain is like a Lamborghini — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted
Cooper's Hawk splashing in a birdbath, its tail feathers raised and its chest feathers wet

Providing Water for Birds

From chickadees to Cooper’s Hawks, most birds love a good bath. Some birds get the fluids they need from their food, but many birds need a drink at least twice a day. Water is essential for birds, and supplying clean water for them to drink and bathe in is a great way to help maintain
Sociable-Weaver nest

The Sociable Weaver's Colonial Nest

When it comes to nests, common sense suggests that large birds build large nests, and small birds build small nests. But in fact, some species of smaller birds build large nests. None, though, builds anything like the communal structures of Sociable Weavers in southern Africa’s arid plains
Pigeon seen in profile as it walks across paving stones

Pigeons and Head-bobbing

Pigeons seem to bob their heads as they move, like they’re grooving to an internal tune. But what look like head bobs are actually momentary pauses of the head while they walk. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so that pausing enables the pigeon to take a brief, steady view of its
Black-capped Chickadee singing, perched on a branch in sunshine

Voices and Vocabularies - Clever Chickadees

Few backyard birds are as beloved as the Black-capped Chickadee. The boldly patterned chickadee is perky, trusting – and it seems to introduce itself by calling its name – chick-a-dee. But when a chickadee voices its namesake call – using a host of variations – it’s most likely maintaining