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urban

City Owls

Some owls, like Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls, live in the city. As hunters, they find a lot to eat in the city — like rats or squirrels! Both favor urban parks, cemeteries, and botanical gardens — places with big trees — and both roost during the day. The Great Horned Owl, like this one,... read more »

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Urban Cooper's Hawks

Next time you’re in the city, look up. When pigeons are wheeling, you might just see a different bird in pursuit. The Cooper’s Hawk, once known as the “chicken hawk,” used to be in steep decline due to hunting and the effects of DDT on breeding. Today, it’s the most abundant of the bird-eating... read more »

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City Ravens

Once common on the Atlantic Coast, Common Ravens became rare, as human activity grew more obtrusive through the 1900s. But something changed around the dawn of the 21st century. The ravens came back. Ravens now patrol parking lots in New Jersey to seize the choicest trash, dodge speeding cars on... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Hummingbird Feeder Homebrew

The familiar components of a hummingbird feeder include a bottle, sugar water, and something red to attract the birds. (But not the water, please! Food coloring can be harmful to hummers. Here's a healthy recipe.) Feeding hummingbirds such as this Anna’s Hummingbird may seem like a recent... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, history, human interaction

Earthworms - A Superfood in Cold Storage

This American Robin has caterpillars and an earthworm in its beak. But which food source is the real prize? Everyday earthworms are higher in protein than beef or chicken. You’d have to eat about a pound of soybeans to equal the protein in just three ounces of earthworms. They’re also high in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Suburbs, Juncos, and Evolution

Birds have been living near humans for millions of years. But only during the past 5,000 years have birds and humans shared space in cities and towns. “What we’ve done is create a new place where birds are under intense natural selection — from our activities,” says John Marzluff, Professor of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

Sparrows Kick, Robins Pick

If you watch backyard birds, you will likely see some characteristic behaviors. One example is "foraging" styles — the behaviors that a bird uses to find food. Some birds, such as sparrows, are famous for their "double-scratch" behavior. The bird jumps forward and back, quite quickly...twice. In... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Swifts Roost in Chimneys

What could bring crowds of people out after sunset on a September evening to stare at  ... a chimney? Swifts, of course! Scores of swifts form a funnel-shaped cloud above the right kind of chimney, then they begin their descent. First one, then a few more, then dozens, then hundreds swirl... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, ecology, migration

The Most Abundant Birds in North America

By August, most birds in North America have finished nesting, bringing legions of new birds into the world. These Mourning Doves, which prosper in many environments, are among the most abundant birds on the continent. Their population is estimated at 350 million! In second place is the American... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, science

"You Need a Mister!"

Ken Jacobsen is a retired senator in Washington State who’s a keen birder. When he was on the campaign trail, Jacobsen often advised constituents on ways they could improve conditions for birds in their yards and neighborhoods. You won’t believe what happened when he encouraged one constituent to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

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