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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

The Legendary Phoenix

The ancient Greeks and Egyptians described a mythical bird called the Phoenix, a magnificent creature that was a symbol of renewal and rebirth. According to legend, each Phoenix lived for 500 years, and only one Phoenix lived at a time. Just before its time was up, the Phoenix built a nest and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Do Male and Female Birds Always Look Different?

The males and females of many bird species, like these Blue Jays, look identical. And crows, which at least to our eyes, are all the same color and size. But even if we can’t tell male from female, the birds can. Scientists believe crows may be able to tell each other apart by slight variations... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

The Avocets of Bolivar Flats

The shallow waters and wide mudflats of the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary are alive with thousands of gulls, terns, and shorebirds. American Avocets are often among the most abundant birds on the flats, with 5,000 or more here most winters. The avocets have sensitive bills that curve upward.... read more »

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Three Worldwide Raptors

Consider three species of raptors: the Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon, and Osprey. They’re on every continent except Antarctica. Each has a specialized hunting prowess distinct from the other. They can fly great distances. And like many birds of prey, they mate for life. The Barn Owl, pictured here,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Anniversary of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

December 6th is the anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, designated so in 1960. The Arctic coastal plain is probably the most important place in Alaska for the widest number of avian species - including this Pectoral Sandpiper - and the greatest number of birds. Ironically, that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Waxwing Nightlight

The warm colors and bright accents of the Bohemian Waxwing might make you think it glows in the dark. For the better part of two thousand years, that’s what people believed. Pliny reported that their feathers “shine like flames” in the dark forests of central Europe. The Germans allegedly used... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, human interaction, humor, ornithology

For Australian Magpies, Bigger Groups May Mean Bigger Brains

Some scientists believe our complex human brains are the result of living in complex social groups. We have to keep track of lots of other individuals and constantly changing social relationships. Scientists studying Australian Magpies in the wild have found that birds living in bigger groups... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Why Some Birds Sing in the Winter

By late January, some resident birds, such as the Northern Mockingbird, are beginning their spring singing. When you step outside on a particularly sunny day this winter, a Fox Sparrow like the one pictured here may be warming up for the coming spring. And as far north as British Columbia,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Winter Birds Love Suet

Birds at a suet feeder... What a burst of vitality on a chilly morning! What's the attraction? A cake of suet, suspended from a branch in a small wire feeder. Suet is beef fat, a high-energy food critical for birds' survival in the colder months. Suet is an especially strong magnet for birds ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding

Return of the Snowbird

You may see Dark-eyed Juncos in the summer, but come fall, many more — those that have been nesting in the mountains or farther north — arrive to spend the winter. These juncos often visit birdfeeders for winter feasting. Dark-eyed Juncos forage on the ground. The flash of white tail-feathers... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration

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