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tropical

The Oilbird's Lightless life

Nature has produced some exceptionally odd and unique animals. One such creature is the Oilbird of northern South America. The Oilbird prefers a diet of wild berries and fruits, especially lipid-rich fruits like palm nuts and avocados (which leads to fatty young and the Oilbird's name). ... read more »

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Not Just Any Nectar Will Do

Hummingbirds such as this Buff-tailed Sicklebill specialize in nectar feeding. But other species of birds, less specialized to nectar, also visit flowers for a taste of the sweet stuff. The flowers they visit likely have a more open shape, with nectar more accessible to a non-specialist’s bill.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, ecology

BirdNote Trip to Cuba (Oct 19-26)

Cuba was the destination for BirdNote's first international trip in October 2015. I don't think we could've picked a better location. Nor could we have picked a better group of 18 participants.We had a well-balanced itinerary that exposed our group to the arts, food, culture, natural spaces, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

The Cuban Tody

The Cuban Tody is almost indescribably cute! It’s a "must-see" bird for anyone heading for the West Indies. In woodlands throughout the island of Cuba, todies are terrific foragers. In fact, their Puerto Rican cousins have been known to catch up to one or two insects a minute — hunting from dawn... read more »

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Climate Change Is Pushing Tropical Birds Off the Mountaintop

In New Guinea in the 1960s, scientist Jared Diamond documented birds like this Mountain Kingfisher living at all elevations on Mount Karamui. Today, scientists Ben and Alexa Freeman have documented an important change. Birds are moving “upslope” to escape warming temperatures that are disrupting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Costa Rica - The Land Is Pulsing with Life

It’s early morning in Costa Rica. Tiny bats nestle in a tree after a night on the wing. A Great Kiskadee calls. Gray-capped Flycatchers sally forth from willow-like shrubs to catch insects in mid-air. White Ibis forage at the water's edge. Deep in a thicket, Black-hooded Antshrikes call. By noon,... read more »

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Purple Martins Head South to the Amazon

The Purple Martin is the largest swallow that nests in the US and Canada. It’s also one of our most beloved birds, judging by how many people put up nest boxes for them! During fall, Purple Martins from western North America migrate to a distinct wintering area in southeastern Brazil — a travel... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

OTS Facilitates Research

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) operates three field research stations in Costa Rica: one in a very wet forest on the Atlantic coastal plain; another near the Pacific Ocean where there’s a long dry season; and the third, near Panama at mid-elevation. Dr. Gordon Orians, a past... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Waking to Howler Monkeys - With Roger Melendez

Dawn breaks in Costa Rica. As in many places around the world, people wake to the crowing of roosters . . . or in Costa Rica, it might be howler monkeys! Costa Rican birding guide Roger Melendez says that the male wants to know… “Is everybody awake? Is everybody listenin' to what I’m... read more »

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