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Europe

Robin Orange-breast

Look closely and you’ll see: the European Robin’s breast isn’t red. It’s actually a distinctly orange color. So why “Redbreast” and not, you know, “Orange-breast”? It may be because the word “orange” just wasn’t an option when the bird was named. Oranges — the fruit — first arrived in England in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

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

Ulm Sparrows

As an old story from Germany goes, workers building the world’s tallest church were preparing to install an immensely long beam, but they couldn’t get it through the city gate. Preparing to dismantle the city wall to clear a path to the construction site, workers saw a House Sparrow carry a long... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Cetti's Warbler

It took centuries to match the Cetti’s Warbler, a secretive singer, to its disembodied song. In 1819 Italian naturalist Alberto della Marmora was walking along the River Var, in France, when he heard a song he thought he recognized. One well-aimed shotgun blast later, and he knew for sure. He... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

Birding in Norway - Summer Solstice

Finally Full-on Spring in TromsøTromsø had an unusually cold May, even for here, and the returning migrants were all a few weeks later than usual.  The birches, the dominant trees here, were largely bare still in early June, and the temperature was 5°C. Then, a wonderful period of what we... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding

Great Bustard

A Great Bustard shows off to a group of females by inflating special neck sacs – producing what sounds like a massive sneeze followed by a Bronx cheer. He flips his wings almost upside down to reveal bright white undersides, while fanning his tail and long, white throat whiskers. Three feet tall... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Birding in Norway - 70 Degrees North

Wim Vader, a birder of many years, writes about the birds he's seen in Tromsø, Norway, in 2017:                    4 January — Here at 70°N, we have had almost too much weather. December was warmer than... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

The Robin's Namesake

Like the American Robin, the European Robin is a bird of yards and gardens. But it’s not much bigger than a chickadee. The robin’s likeness turns up everywhere from Mother Goose rhymes, Peter Rabbit stories, and whiskey labels to postage stamps and Christmas cards. On at least two occasions, the ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Who's Laughing Now? - Gull-billed Terns

During the summer of 1818, German ornithologist Wilhelm Schilling was visiting an island in the Baltic Sea. Out of nowhere came a small flock of seabirds he didn’t recognize. He captured one, but the fortunate others escaped. Schilling later told his friend and colleague, Ludwig Brehm, that the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

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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