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Southwest

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

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nests in the open country of Texas, Oklahoma, and the south-central region. An elegant bird of pale silver-gray, with a slender, deeply forked tail longer than its body, it has stunning, vivid salmon-pink flanks and underwings. Agile in flight, it can spread and fold... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

The Cactus Wren's Signature Voice

Most wrens in North America are small, furtive birds that stay deep in the vegetation. But the Cactus Wren is large, bold, and brassy. These wrens are well adapted to the desert and can get all the moisture they need from their food. Cactus Wren nests are a regular sight in their range of dry... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Geese Launching at Bosque del Apache

In winter, flocks of wintering Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, and Sandhill Cranes stop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Just before sunrise, the geese are a mass of kinetic and potential energy, like a symphony orchestra tuning up for a big performance. Hunger might launch... read more »

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Yellow-eyed Juncos - Bright Eyes

The Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most abundant backyard birds in North America. But it’s not our only junco. In the Southwest, the Yellow-eyed Junco lives in cool mountain forests from Arizona and New Mexico, through Mexico into Guatemala. Ornithologist Francis Sumichrast was in Veracruz, Mexico... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding

Acorn Woodpecker Granaries

The Acorn Woodpecker is found in parts of the western US. It chips small recesses out of trees to fit the acorns it will harvest throughout the fall. A family of Acorn Woodpeckers may use this storage tree, or granary, for generations. Some of them hold as many as 50,000 acorns. So does the Acorn... read more »

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Zone-tailed Hawks Mimic Vultures

Zone-tailed Hawks of the American Southwest look a lot like Turkey Vultures. And they often soar among groups of Turkey Vultures. By consorting with vultures, Zone-tailed Hawks gain a distinct advantage as predators. While doves and lizards would quickly flee the flight silhouette of a Red-tailed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

A Tale of Hummingbird Etiquette

Artist and writer Beth Surdut listens to ravens and has paddled with alligators in wild and scenic places. She also knows about proper etiquette when encountering the smallest, fastest bird in the desert...This story starts with bird droppings. But before I go any further, if you have a penny and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, reflection

Forest Fires, Recovery, and Birds

Forest fires have profound effects on birds and other wildlife — for better or worse. Birds such as this Black-backed Woodpecker find a bonanza of insects under burned bark and ample snags in which to carve out nest holes. Woodpecker cavities are often reused by birds like bluebirds. And birds... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  ecology

Jays Identify Good Nuts by Shaking Them

Some birds stash unopened seeds for use later. But how do they know which seeds are worth the trouble, before expending the energy to open them? A team of scientists from South Korea and Poland may have an answer. As part of a series of experiments, the scientists observed the behavior of Mexican... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

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