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Shows With Contributions by Rick Wright

Sandgrouse - Desert Water-carriers

Sandgrouse live in some of the most parched environments on earth. To satisfy the thirst of their chicks, male sandgrouse carry water back to the nest in a surprising but effective way: by carrying it in their feathers. Thanks to coiled hairlike extensions on the feathers of the underparts, a... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  plumage

Hanging-Parrots

There are a dozen species of hanging-parrots — also known as bat parrots — in the tropical forests of southern Asia and Indonesia. Clad in bright greens, blues, and reds, they sleep —and sometimes bathe — upside down. No other birds sleep like this. This bizarre behavior probably protects hanging... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Capuchinbirds

The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken with the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre birds in South America. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head. The... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Burrowing Snowbirds

Light, fluffy snow can be up to 90% trapped air — just the thing to keep birds and other animals warm. Ptarmigan spend winter nights in cozy caves they excavate in snow. During truly harsh weather, they will hunker down in their caves through the short arctic day, too. Common Redpolls break... read more »

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William Turner and the First Bird Book

The first printed bird book, The Principal Birds of Aristotle and Pliny, was published in 1544. Written by the English physician and naturalist William Turner, the book is noteworthy for its inclusion of Turner’s personal observations — a real innovation at a time when ancient authorities held... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Blind Snakes and Screech-Owls

During the breeding season, when Eastern Screech-Owls capture the worm-like reptiles known as blind snakes, they deliver them to their chicks alive and wriggling. Some are gulped down immediately, but others escape by burrowing beneath the nest. The surviving “snakes” feed on the insect larvae... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Starlings Say It With Flowers

European Starlings regularly adorn their twig nests with marigolds, elderberry flowers, yarrow leaves, and even willow bark — all of which are full of aromatic chemicals, which fumigate their nests and are thought to discourage pests and parasites. Scientists discovered that starlings hatched in... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Ulm Sparrows

As an old story from Germany goes, workers building the world’s tallest church were preparing to install an immensely long beam, but they couldn’t get it through the city gate. Preparing to dismantle the city wall to clear a path to the construction site, workers saw a House Sparrow carry a long... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  history

Cetti's Warbler

It took centuries to match the Cetti’s Warbler, a secretive singer, to its disembodied song. In 1819 Italian naturalist Alberto della Marmora was walking along the River Var, in France, when he heard a song he thought he recognized. One well-aimed shotgun blast later, and he knew for sure. He... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

The Descent of Birdlore

How did Theodore Roosevelt develop his interest in birds? The chain of events may surprise you. As a budding birdwatcher, Roosevelt was influenced by John Bell, a New York City taxidermist. It turns out that Bell started watching birds 50 years earlier on a trip up the Missouri River with John... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology, reflection

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