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forest

Ponderosa Pine Savanna

In a Western ponderosa pine savanna, tall pines dot an open, grassy landscape. A Western Bluebird flits from a gnarly branch, as this Cassin's Finch belts out a rapid song. The trees here grow singly or in small stands. Upslope, the pines become denser, mixing with firs. Downhill, the trees give... read more »

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Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds

The sapsucker is a type of woodpecker that notches rows of small holes in trees, causing sap to well out. The birds eat the sugary liquid flowing from these sapwells. Tree sap is similar in sugar content to the nectar hummingbirds take from flowers. And it is no coincidence that just as the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

No Pounding Headache

The Pileated Woodpecker makes loud, hard whacks, as it leans back and then slams its bill into the side of a living tree. Sounds painful, if not downright disabling! How does the woodpecker's brain withstand it? All woodpeckers have an enlarged brain case, so the brain sits above the level of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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

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

Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Southeastern Forests

Native to the Southeast across to East Texas, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers differ from most woodpeckers. They remain in cooperative family groups throughout their lives. And they excavate nests in living trees rather than dead ones, often reusing the same cavities for decades. The federal government... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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