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Some Hummingbirds Perch in the Open

Male hummingbirds — like the Anna's Hummingbird seen here — keep a watchful eye on their territory and will often perch atop a high, bare twig in order to fully view their surroundings. From here, the male hummer will launch himself into the air to perform courtship displays, to chase off rivals,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

What's Inside a Woodpecker's Nest Hole?

Many woodpeckers chisel out deep cavities in tree trunks in order to lay their eggs and raise their brood. The cavities hollowed out by the birds vary in size, depending on the species of woodpecker. Most North American woodpeckers carve a new nest cavity each spring.Support for BirdNote comes... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Make Your Cloud-watching More Like Bird-watching

When we watch birds in flight, they’re often seen against a backdrop of clouds. Clouds have many different types and are listed in the International Cloud Atlas. The asperitas cloud was first described by citizen-scientists and has now been incorporated into the official atlas. read more »

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Snatching Berries on the Wing

When American Robins gather to pluck berries, you can expect to see a lot of fluttering. The robins are heavy, making it a lot harder to perch and creep along a thin stem. And they have long, strong legs because they spend so much time walking and hopping on the ground in search of food. An easy... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Beauty and Secrecy: The Montezuma Quail

The Montezuma Quail is a tiny bird of Mexican mountains and the Southwestern US. It appears boldly colored in the open but disappears into the brush as if invisible. Habitat loss and overgrazing have diminished the bird’s range, but conservation agencies have been working together to protect it... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

Cranes' Voices Across the Globe

There are fifteen species of cranes across the globe, found everywhere but Antarctica and South America. During the winter, cranes forage and rest together by the thousands. Listen in to the voices of cranes from all over the world. Nothing evokes the spirit of the wild like the voices of these... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

What's with the Wattles?

Birds like male turkeys or barnyard roosters have a wrinkly, bumpy flap of red skin called a wattle. But what are wattles for? Birds can’t sweat, so wattles help release excess heat. Wattles are also key to courtship displays. Many other birds, including some storks and plovers, also have wattles... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Snowy Owls

Do Snowy Owls hunt during the day or at night? As they are normally arctic birds, Snowy Owls are adapted to hunt both during the long hours of summer and the near-total night of winter. During the winter, these birds can sometimes be found as far south as the northern United States, where they... read more »

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Why Do Some Birds Flock?

When birds like these Dunlin form flocks, each individual is less likely to be captured by a predator. Some shorebirds that forage with their heads down, like godwits, will flock with birds that forage with their heads up, like curlews. Still other birds work together —  like American White... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Why Do Birds Come to Birdfeeders?

A tube of black oil sunflower seeds isn’t “natural”…and neither is a suet cake. Yet as soon as you hang them up, the neighborhood birds, like these female finches, find them. Those grosbeaks at your feeder probably never ate sunflower seeds in nature. Sunflowers grow in open plains, while... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding

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