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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

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

Lewis's Woodpeckers and Pine Forests

A century of logging and fire control has taken its toll on the mature pine forests of the West, the preferred nest site for this Lewis's Woodpecker. But there is hope. Lewis's Woodpeckers also nest along rivers in large cottonwoods, trees of little value for timber. Also, many remaining tracts... read more »

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Flickers and Buffleheads

After a Northern Flicker carves out a nest cavity, chances are the birds will use the cavity for just one nesting season. But the cavity may have a prolonged career as a home for small owls, bluebirds, swallows, and other birds - including the Bufflehead. Buffleheads - like the family seen here -... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Saving Snags for Red-headed Woodpeckers

Red-headed Woodpeckers excavate cavities in large, dead trees called snags. Yet, over much of the Red-head's range, snags are frequently cut down as unsightly, or because they make good firewood. There are ways we can help the Red-headed Woodpecker -- and many other woodpeckers, too. The key is... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening, nesting

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

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