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Late Summer Shorebirds

Celebrating Shorebirds!It's late summer and all across North America, millions of shorebirds — sandpipers and plovers — are on the move. Seattle photographer Gregg Thompson has been following the annual pilgrimage for the last few years.Here's a handful of the birds he's seen. Thanks, Gregg... read more »

Black Turnstones Head South

Black Turnstones are back at Alki! It's mid-August and Gregg Thompson is photographing Black Turnstones returning to the Puget Sound area for the winter. And he's trying to sort through the group, studying different plumages and ages. Most of these birds are adult non-breeders or adults coming... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Do Penguins Blush?

Humboldt Penguins living along the Pacific Coast of Chile and Peru are adapted to cold. But on land, temperatures rise to 100+ degrees, and penguins need to cool off. So these penguins have pink patches of bare skin on their face, under their wings, and on their feet. On hot days, the patches... read more »

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Caspian Terns Tussle

At the Everett Marina in northwestern Washington State, photographer Gregg Thompson witnessed a serious squabble between two Caspian Terns: “This was on feeding grounds, and there were lots of birds in the same area. These two guys kept going at it. Lots of screeching. Stopped fighting and then... read more »

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Shorebirds Watch Their Feet

Greater Yellowlegs — not surprisingly — have bright yellow legs and feet. And why? While foraging through shallow water, a yellowlegs (like this one) can keep track of its legs by the color, which contrasts with the sometimes dark and irregular bottom. A Sanderling, on the other hand, has black... read more »

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The Superbly Adapted Osprey

This Osprey looks similar to other birds of prey. But the species is truly unique among raptors. For example, the Osprey is the only raptor with oily feathers. And the Osprey’s long, slender, arched wings help it clear the water as it takes flight after catching a fish. The Osprey we see today —... read more »

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Kingfisher Perches

For better and for worse, humans can have a huge impact on the lives of birds. One positive impact for Belted Kingfishers is that some road building and digging of gravel pits has created banks where the birds can nest and thus allowed the expansion of their breeding range.* But increased... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Dunlins and Peregrines

In a dramatic and sometimes deadly aerial ballet, a Peregrine Falcon dives on a flock of Dunlins. Seeking escape, the shorebirds flash white and dark, rippling through the sky.  This dance has changed dramatically since the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1973. As the number of peregrines on... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

The Loudmouth Kingfisher

What is the loudest bird on Earth? An irritated male Belted Kingfisher is a good candidate, especially if you are next to a perched bird uttering his piercing scream-rattle. There’s a good evolutionary explanation for being such a loudmouth: announcing to your competitors that this is your turf,... read more »

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Inside the burrow of a Rhinoceros Auklet

Everyone knows puffins. Who could forget their comical behavior — with an appearance to match? But you may not know about the Rhinoceros Auklet, a close relative to puffins, found in the Pacific Ocean. Its gray plumage is duller than that of puffins, but during the breeding season it sports a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science

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