Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

Powder Down

Hidden below the outer breast feathers of herons, pigeons, doves, tinamous, bustards and some parrots are patches of special down feathers. These feathers are never molted, and they grow continuously. The tips break down into a dust the consistency of talcum powder. Using a fringed claw on
Swain's Thrush

Salmonberry Bird

The native names of birds sometimes distill the essence of their appearance or behavior. In the Cherokee language, for instance, the Meadowlark is called "star," because of the way the bird's tail spreads out when it soars. To the Northwest Coastal people, this Swainson's Thrush is known

Preening 101

If a bird’s feathers get too dried out, they become brittle. To prevent that from happening, most birds have a gland located above the base of the tail that produces oil. They use their beaks to massage oil from the gland into their feathers to keep them supple. A bird first grips a

Larkspurs: Flowers and Birds

Open a flower guide, and you may find larkspur, owl’s clover, parrot’s beak, wake-robin, peacock plant, and storksbill. And there’s chickweed, hawkweed, ragged robin, cuckoo flower, and hens-and-chicks. At least one flower packs in two bird names: the dove’s-foot cranesbill. There are
Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

With its beautiful colors, the Lazuli Bunting might just have inspired Navajo artists. In summer, these beautiful singers inhabit the brushy canyons east of the Cascades. And where the Lazuli Bunting sings, you'll often hear the music of Vesper Sparrows and Western Meadowlarks.
Peacock displaying tail feathers

Peacocks in India

Peacocks have been domesticated for thousands of years and now occur everywhere in the world. But to see wild peacocks, you'll need to go to India and Sri Lanka. Where hunted, peacocks are shy and rarely seen, and give loud alarm calls when startled. Where protected, however, they become

Dippers on the Elwha

In 2014, the dams on the Elwha River in Washington State were removed. As the river ran free again, salmon from the Pacific were able to spawn upstream for the first time in 100 years, dramatically improving conditions for American Dippers. Recent research has demonstrated that birds with

Beaks and Grosbeaks

Beaks suited for opening tough, hard seeds—thick, conical beaks—evolved in more than one lineage of birds. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are related to cardinals, which also have powerful beaks. Evening Grosbeaks belong to the finch family, which includes goldfinches and crossbills—an entire
Peregrine falcon with her chicks

Mother Birds

Happy Mother's Day, from the whole BirdNote team! Avian motherhood is a mixed bag. Peregrine Falcon mothers share duties fairly equally with Peregrine dads. At the other end of the spectrum is the female hummingbird, which usually carries the entire burden of nesting, incubating, and
Laughing Gulls

Gulls or "Seagulls"?

Gulls seem so much a part of the sea that we often just call them "seagulls," a colloquial title for these graceful, ubiquitous creatures. Twenty-two species breed in North America. The Pacific coast is home to the aptly named Western Gulls. The familiar Ring-billed Gull nests all across