Shows With Contributions by Bryan Pfeiffer

White-winged Crossbill sitting at a pinecone in snow

Crossbills Nest in Winter

In the grips of winter, when most songbirds are months away from the breeding season, crossbills are already warming up. It’s all about the food. When the evergreens hang heavy with snow and cones, crossbills can get all the calories they need for the demands of reproduction: courtship
Bicknell's Thrush

Bicknell's Thrush

The Bicknell’s Thrush is known for scarcity… and promiscuity. Unlike most songbirds, the female thrush establishes a territory and then mates with males that happen by. She then lays eggs that have been fertilized by multiple different males. Many of those males will stick around and help
Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbirds - A Rusty Recovery

It’s basic black with an inelegant voice. It nests in places we rarely visit. And in relative obscurity, the Rusty Blackbird has suffered one of the most dramatic population declines ever recorded among our songbirds. Loss of swamps in the southeastern US, where they winter, probably
Turkey Vulture in flight

Turkey Vultures on the Move

Before we see or feel spring, we often hear it first — in the testimony of a Red-winged Blackbird, the energy of a Song Sparrow, or the serenade of an American Robin. But across much of North America, an earlier sign of spring is the return of Turkey Vultures. In the US, you may see them
Flock of Snow Geese in flight

Geese Launching at Bosque del Apache

In winter, flocks of wintering Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, and Sandhill Cranes stop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Just before sunrise, the geese are a mass of kinetic and potential energy, like a symphony orchestra tuning up for a big performance. Hunger might
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Kinglet Fireworks

Most of the time, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet is neither ruby nor regal. A tiny songbird washed in faded olive-green, the male shows a hint of crimson atop of his head — hardly a ruby crown. But don’t forsake the kinglet for flashier birds. When courting a female or dueling with another male
House Finch

Light and Song - Sparks in Winter

Even in winter, some birds — including Black-capped Chickadees, House Finches, and American Robins — greet the sunrise with song. We normally hear the dawn chorus in springtime, when birds sing to define territory and attract mates. But birds don’t breed by warmth alone. Day length is a
Common Goldeneye

Winter Romance - Common Goldeneyes

Most duck species court and form pair bonds in winter. In the icy waters of Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Common Goldeneyes are getting hot! This male is displaying his signature move, the “head-throw-kick,” to attract a mate. Goldeneye pairs now bonding throughout the US will migrate in early
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler - The Winter Warbler

By winter, most warblers have migrated south. But the Yellow-rumped Warbler, which birders affectionately call “butterbutt” is a lesson in adaptation, notes Bryan Pfeiffer, a writer, naturalist, and educator who lives in Vermont. “In winter, when most of their kin are enjoying insects in

Pushy Males

Bobolinks breed in North America and winter in South America. Like many songbirds, they’re classic long-distance migrants. But some Savannah Sparrows fly far south in winter, some fly not so far, and some stay put. This mix of strategies is known as “differential migration.” Sometimes