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wetland

A Drive Along on a Bar Ditch

In the rural Southeast, roadside ditches – known as “bar ditches” – carry on for miles. They’re full of water and full of life, these narrow wetlands. Herons stalk the shallow water, stabbing at minnows. Common Gallinules, like this one, swim on the surface. Reeds and bulrushes provide cover for... read more »

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Birding and Recording at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

May 31st – June 3, 2012What a sanctuary Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is! The U. S. Fish and Wildlife brochure begins by saying, “One of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge protects a vast complex of wetlands in Oregon’s high desert. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, recording

Beavers and Meadows

Viva Las Vegas -- When explorer Antonio Armijo came upon the place in 1829, he found bubbling springs, abundant beavers, and grassy beaver meadows. No casinos. Armijo named the site Las Vegas – Spanish for “the meadows.” Beavers do much to shape the natural landscape. They fell trees along creeks... read more »

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Bird Songs Reflect the Environment

Different sounds travel better in different environments. The explosive notes of a Marsh Wren carry well through thick vegetation. A Common Yellowthroat's choppy, repetitive song rattles right through a stand of cattails. An Olive-sided Flycatcher sings from atop a tall tree, its song carrying at... read more »

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Morning on the Bayou

Cypress trees draped with Spanish moss rise from still, dark water. A Barred Owl hoots mightily as an alligator slithers by. It's morning on the bayou. Bayous are found in much of the Southeast from Arkansas to Alabama, across flat land that drains into the Mississippi River. A bayou's luxuriant... read more »

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Little Blue Heron, Light and Dark

Two herons, one dark, the other white, feed at the edge of a wooded pond in the South. Both birds are Little Blue Herons. What's going on here? Well, the white bird is a juvenile. These young herons forage with flocks of Snowy Egrets, which stir up prey. The white immatures mix readily with the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Limpkin - Bird of the Swamp

It's dawn on a spring day in the Big Cypress Swamp of Florida. Mist rises from quiet water into Spanish moss hanging from the cypress branches. A Limpkin is foraging for apple snails. When it touches a big, round shell, it grabs it quickly and pulls it from the water. Then, moving to solid ground... read more »

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The Elusive Virginia Rail

The Virginia Rail is a secretive bird, a relative of coots and cranes. And it's a bird you'll more often hear than spy. The rail takes its name from its narrow body - "as skinny as a rail" - an adaptation to its favorite marshy habitats. A Virginia Rail walks hidden, squeezing through dense reeds... read more »

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Two Wings and a Tail

The Wilson's Snipe lives in marshes and muddy areas, where it probes for worms and other squirmy delights. But when spring comes, it takes to the air. The male Wilson's Snipe circles high above in a series of roller-coaster arcs, each descent marked by a loud and distinctive sound. This winnowing... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

Dawn in the Marsh

It's dawn in a western marsh in mid-summer, and man! Those birds are singin'! The males of more than a dozen species are staking out their territories and attracting mates. One of the noisiest of all is the Red-winged Blackbird. He sings not to attract just one mate, but to gather a whole harem!... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

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