How will birds and other wildlife respond to global climate change? We can learn many lessons from the Alexander Archipelago, a chain of islands in southeast Alaska. Less than 10,000 years ago, these islands were covered by ice. Sea levels were 100 meters lower than today, allowing many
Gordon Orians describes an unusual adaptation in blackbirds called gaping: "...the ability to forcibly open the bill against some pressure, so that a bird can push its bill into the base of a grass clump, and forcibly open it, which reveals the insects that may be down hidden in the base.
Some species of birds try to save energy by tricking others into incubating their eggs. But if the parasitic female is a related species, she may have an advantage. After studying the nests of Common Eiders, such as the one pictured here, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in
Some birds require habitats created by other animals. Two such landscape shapers were the American bison and the prairie dog. With the extermination of millions of bison and prairie dogs, species such as this Mountain Plover and the Burrowing Owl, which require barren ground, greatly
Many birds look for islands when they want to find a great nesting site, because islands are often protected from mammalian predators. Some of the best places to find islands are oxbow lakes, like many of the ones protected by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The climate of the earth is changing rapidly, and birds are responding accordingly. Of the 305 species found in North America in winter, nearly 60% have shifted their ranges northward by an average of 35 miles. As some places become unsuitable for the birds now living there, new areas will
Who knew that this American Redstart’s feathers could reveal so much information about its life? For example, the more intense the color of a male American Redstart’s feathers, the better his chances of holding a good winter territory, which means access to good nutrition. Being well fed
For birds and other animals with good natural insulation, winter provides a striking benefit as they scavenge. Bacteria function very slowly or not at all in the cold, preventing dead bodies from rotting. In northern latitudes, ravens and other scavenging birds take advantage of winter's
When Florida became a state in 1845, the legislature declared the Everglades, America's largest wetland, totally worthless. In 1905, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was elected governor on a campaign to drain them. So over the years, the slowly flowing "River of Grass" has been replaced by a
Migratory birds connect the Northern Plains with many parts of the Western Hemisphere. Barn and Cliff Swallows, Thick-billed Longspurs, this Lark Bunting, and many other birds winter from Central to southern South America. But their reproduction depends on the bounty of the prairie spring