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Africa

The World’s Most Abundant Bird

An estimated 1.5 billion Red-billed Quelea live in Africa today, making them the most abundant of all wild birds. The sparrow-sized Red-billed Quelea flock together in groups so large, from a distance they appear to be clouds of smoke. Red-billed Quelea are in the weaver family and create tens of... read more »

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Scintillating Starlings

In Africa, where there are dozens of starling species, a quick look reveals a variety of visual stunners. Some of the names hint at their dazzle: Superb Starling, as well as Golden-breasted, Emerald, Purple, Violet-backed, and Splendid Glossy Starlings. Starlings sparkle because they have special... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Plan Your Next Birding Trip!

Planning a trip? We’ve pulled together some online resources that can help you find that special place for birdwatching—or special bird—on that family vacation across the state or that business trip to the other side of the world. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

The Secretarybird: Eagle on Stilts

The Secretarybird of sub-Saharan Africa looks like a slim eagle set on the long, slender legs of a crane. Secretarybirds can fly but prefer to hunt on foot, walking over 20 miles a day and dispatching their prey with powerful kicks of their taloned feet. read more »

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Snake-Eagles Are Awesome

When a soaring Short-toed Snake-Eagle spots a delicious snake, it swoops down, grabs it with its talons, then tears off the snake’s head. Still on the wing, it swallows the entire snake, head first. Smaller than Bald Eagles, they live mainly in Africa and have legs and toes covered in thick... read more »

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Myles North in East Africa

Sometimes the magic in an archive recording is the person doing the recording. Myles Edward Wentworth North spent his adult life as a civil servant in the British colonies of east Africa. Using equipment loaned by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, he systematically recorded the bird voices ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording

Cisticolas - Chirping, Croaking, and More

This Zitting Cisticola is a little brown bird from a big family of fifty-odd species. Its simple but cheerful song is familiar to people around the Mediterranean. In Africa, where most species of cisticolas are found, they occupy just about any open habitat, from marshlands to agricultural fields... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Sociable Weaver's Colonial Nest

When it comes to nests, common sense suggests that large birds build large nests, and small birds build small nests. But in fact, some species of smaller birds build large nests. None, though, builds anything like the communal structures of Sociable Weavers in southern Africa’s arid plains. These... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Sandgrouse - Desert Water-carriers

Sandgrouse live in some of the most parched environments on earth. To satisfy the thirst of their chicks, male sandgrouse carry water back to the nest in a surprising but effective way: by carrying it in their feathers. Thanks to coiled hairlike extensions on the feathers of the underparts, a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Alpine Swifts Fly Nonstop

How long can a bird fly without touching the earth? To find out, Swiss scientists attached sensors to Alpine Swifts. The sensors showed long periods when the swifts were gliding and not flapping their wings. Were the birds asleep? Scientists don’t know for sure. It could be that Alpine Swifts... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight, migration

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