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Male vs. Female Plumage

The males and females of many bird species, like these Blue Jays, look identical. And crows, which at least to our eyes, are all the same color and size. But even if we can’t tell male from female, the birds can. Scientists believe crows may be able to tell each other apart by slight variations... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

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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Leave the Leaves

To help backyard birds through the winter, do less. Leave the leaves or rake them under plantings. The tasty insects and spiders underneath will be food for the towhee and this Song Sparrow. Don’t deadhead. Pine Siskins and goldfinches love to snack on dead flowerheads. Make an insect hotel out... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening

Habitat Defined

When you think of habitat, think of home. For a jay that lives in the forest, the forest is its habitat – where it finds food, water, shelter, and the company of other jays. Or it might live in your back yard or the bank parking lot down the street. Some birds live in different habitats at... read more »

Teen Birders

Elisa Yang, a teenage birder, couldn’t find a young birder group anywhere in California -- so she created her own. In the San Bernardino National Forest, they hunt for the Mexican Whip-poor-will, an elusive crepuscular bird. The teens don headlamps and hike down a dirt road. Perched on boulders,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

To Mob or Not to Mob

When a bird of prey flies over, a flock of crows may dive-bomb the predator and give it a noisy escort out of town. An Eastern Kingbird, like this one, will clamp its feet onto the back of a hawk to send it packing. How do they know which birds to chase off and which to ignore? By genetic wiring,... read more »

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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Amazing Feet

What looks like feet on a bird are actually its toes. That backward-looking knee is more like an ankle. A bird’s feet are suited to its unique way of living. Eagles capture live prey with long talons, while water birds use webbed feet to guide and propel themselves. And ostriches have two massive... read more »

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BirdNote Gallery

pileated woodpecker

New photos every week! Check out the gallery. This Pileated Woodpecker courtesy of Mike Hamilton.
The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker was larger, but alas, is probably extinct.

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