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Secretive Varied Thrush

Except in winter, when it gathers in loose flocks to move to lower elevations, this shy bird prefers solitude. The intricate pattern of color on its wings resembles dappled sunlight on the forest floor. Naturalist Louis Agassiz Fuertes called the song of the Varied Thrush, "... as perfectly the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, species account

Yellow-billed Magpies and West Nile Virus

Like their cousins, jays and crows, the Yellow-billed Magpies of California were hit hard by West Nile virus. The disease reduced magpie numbers by half. Habitat loss and poisoning also threaten the birds. They're now on Audubon's watchlist of species of concern. Whether the magpies will develop... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  citizen science

The Wood Thrush and Eastern Forests

The rich, fluting song of the Wood Thrush floats through an eastern deciduous forest. Unfortunately, forests at both ends of their winter and summer range are being cleared for pasture, agriculture, mining, and housing developments. We can help Wood Thrushes and forest birds everywhere by... read more »

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Aggressive Warblers and Climate Change

The territories of Townsend's Warblers and Hermit Warblers overlap in Washington State. Ornithologists call the overlap where the two species interbreed a "hybrid zone." The hybrids - like the one seen here - reveal characteristics of both. And they may also lend clues about our changing climate.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Henry David Thoreau and the Wood Thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: "This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning." Wood Thrushes thrive in large expanses of forest. And their numbers have... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

What Sudden Oak Death Means for Birds

A California landscape - rolling hills dotted with oak trees. One year-round resident is the Oak Titmouse. In 1985, a pathogen called Sudden Oak Death began attacking California oaks. As the oaks die, they're cut down in an effort to stop the spread of the pathogen. But Oak Titmice require... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening, science

Marbled Murrelet - Interview with Martin Raphael

The endangered Marbled Murrelet is a bird of two worlds. Martin Raphael, a biologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, explains: "It lives in the marine world. But then it nests on the limbs of large, old trees. Its fate is tied not only to the fate of the trees, but also on marine... read more »

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The Drumming of the Ruffed Grouse

A male Ruffed Grouse performs his drumming display on a resonant, fallen log in the shelter of a brushy thicket in the forest. Drumming announces a male's territory and his desire for a mate. Ruffed Grouse thrive in young forests. Wildfires once created that type of habitat. Today, wise forest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

Counting Kirtland's Warblers - Interview with Karen Markey

Learn about one of the first species to be listed as endangered after Congress adopted the Endangered Species Act in 1973: The Kirtland's Warbler. Karen Markey and others make an annual census of the birds, to help federal and state agencies determine how well the recovery plan for the warblers... read more »

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Alala - The Hawaiian Crow

'Alala, also known as Hawaiian Crows (although they're more like ravens), were once common on the Big Island of Hawaii. But the birds suffered from persecution by humans, degraded habitat, and disease, and by 2002, no 'Alala were left in the wild. Today, captive breeding is under way in Hawaii,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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