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Puffins - Clowns of the Sea

Puffins are icons of the seabird world. With clown-like faces and huge, multicolored bills, they stand upright on sea cliffs along the northern oceans. Tufted Puffins nest on islands and rough coastlines, from the Channel Islands of Southern California across the north Pacific to Siberia. The... read more »

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Birds of the Gulf Oil Spill

August 2010 - We share the concern of all who listen to BirdNote for the well-being of the birds that are affected - and are yet to be affected - by the oil spill in the Gulf. Birds such as the Brown Pelican, Snowy Plover, Sandwich Tern, Seaside Sparrow, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Black... read more »

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Marbled Godwits

It's April, and godwits are on their way north. They have wintered along the coasts, including the Texas Gulf Coast, and along the Pacific from California to Washington. While most breed in the prairie provinces of Canada, some nest as far north as Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Be sure to watch the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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 the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

The Hardy Harlequin

Some ducks don't sound like ducks at all. Some, like the Harlequin, squeak. Harlequins are unique in other ways, too. Quick and agile in rushing white water, they dive to the bottom of mountain streams for food, and use fast-flowing rivers for breeding. If you're lucky enough to spot a Harlequin... read more »

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High Island - Migration on the Gulf

If you're near High Island, Texas in the spring, you might witness a "fallout," one of the great spectacles of bird migration. Thousands of birds, including Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, orioles, Painted Buntings, and warblers of all kinds, as well as tanagers and Indigo Buntings, like this one, drop... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Cove Island Sanctuary

For decades, Cove Island in Stamford, Connecticut, on the shore of Long Island Sound, was a dumping ground for construction debris. Today, it's Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary, an oasis for birds (like this Bonaparte's Gull) and other wildlife, as well as for humans. Thanks go to Mike Moccio and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Raven and the Sun, A Myth

Raven, in Northwestern Coastal mythology, is the Trickster, the agent of mischief and games. Raven was covetous of the sun but couldn't figure out how to steal it. He finally found a way and when you hear him call, he's still laughing about how clever he was. This photo courtesy of John Fletcher... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

Common Murre Fathers Take Over

Imagine the nesting cliff of Common Murres, 100 feet above the ocean. Suddenly, a small murre chick, only three weeks old and just one-quarter the weight of an adult, lunges off the cliff, gliding clumsily to the water below. Soon other chicks follow, splashing into the sea. The chicks' fathers... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Common Murres - Nature's Laugh Track

The raucous laughter of the Common Murre rings out from a nesting colony, high on a narrow ledge on a sea cliff. Precarious as their nest site is, Common Murres nest by the thousands along the Pacific Coast, perhaps millions north along the Bering Sea. Their eggs are pointed at one end and blunt... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

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