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Surf Scoters Stand Out

Surf Scoters are large colorful sea ducks. The male Surf Scoter’s huge red-orange bill with its white and black spots really stands out. It is a great tool for eating hard-shelled mollusks like clams and mussels. Surf Scoters spend the winter along the coastlines of North America. Look at the... read more »

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In Winter, Puffins Lead Very Different Lives

Every summer, puffins — like this Horned Puffin — grow blazingly colorful layers over the bases of their huge beaks. But in the winter, puffins lead very different lives, and they shed their bright ornamentation. Puffins in winter are largely solitary — and silent. They spend about seven months... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Long-lived Wisdom, the Albatross

A Laysan Albatross named Wisdom has been nesting and raising chicks on the island of Midway for nearly 60 years. She was banded back in 1956 and was rediscovered, still alive and healthy, in 2002. Since that time, scientists have watched Wisdom closely. Every year, she has managed to navigate the... read more »

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Gannets and Dolphins

Northern Gannets, fish-eating seabirds, dive headfirst into the ocean at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour, pursuing their prey. Sometimes, they get help. Dolphins herd fish into dense, frantic concentrations near the surface, while gannets take advantage and plunge into the shoals from aloft.... read more »

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Surfing with Scoters

Surf Scoters are perfectly at home in the element they’re named for. They swim smack in the middle of what surfers call the impact zone: Just where the waves break with greatest violence. Why risk the harshest waves when there’s calmer water close by? Because the churning action of crashing waves... read more »

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Frigatebirds' Kleptoparasitism

In the warmer regions of the world’s oceans, large seabirds called boobies plunge headfirst into the water, snatching up fish. But as a booby flies up from the waves with a fish now in its gullet, there may be another big seabird — a frigatebird — with its eye on the booby’s fresh catch. Now... read more »

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Ancient Murrelet Migration

We're used to birds migrating north to south and south to north. But the Ancient Murrelet migrates east to west and back across the North Pacific. These plump seabirds nest in colonies in old-growth forests. But where do they go in winter? After breeding, many Ancient Murrelets migrate westward.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Auklet's Whiskers - Not Just for Show

In Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, thousands of Whiskered Auklets — miniature relatives of puffins and murres — nest in deep rock crevices. The birds owe their name to the white plumes that sprout from their heads each summer. These fancy “whiskers” likely play a role in courtship. But they're not... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Steller's Sea-Eagles

Wow, check out these Steller's Sea-Eagles spotted in the sea-ice off Hokkaido, Japan!Dory says: I took these photos from a fishing boat in the sea-ice off the port of Rausu,one of Japan’s World Heritage Sites. The port is on the Shiretoko Peninsula of Hokkaido,a mountainous region that attracts... read more »

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