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Southwest

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

Saving the Gunnison Sage-Grouse

The Gunnison Sage-Grouse is one of the rarest birds in the United States. It was only recently acknowledged as its own species, separate from the Greater Sage-Grouse. In November 2014, it was listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. The striking males are consummate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

The Benefits of a Raven's Black Feathers

It turns out, a raven's black plumage works quite well in the desert. Black feathers do conduct the sun’s warming rays, but they concentrate that solar heat near the feathers’ surface. All it takes is a breeze from the wind, or from flying, to move all that heat away from the surface of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, plumage

Alex Chadwick in Big Bend: An Oasis for Birds

Carolyn Ohl-Johnson found a home — and a way of life — near Big Bend National Park. BirdNote contributor Alex Chadwick visited Carolyn at the desert oasis she created for birds such as this Rivoli's Hummingbird. But her accomplishment has required tremendous sacrifice. “I haven’t seen my great... read more »

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Alex Chadwick in Big Bend: Banding Hummingbirds

BirdNote contributor Alex Chadwick visited the outskirts of Big Bend National Park in Texas to meet with Kelly Bryan, a retired park manager and biologist who spends his days placing tiny bands on hummingbirds to better know their habits. Kelly has banded more than 14,000 birds!Funding for the... read more »

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Alex Chadwick in Big Bend: The Roadrunner and the Baird's Sparrow

In the Looney Tunes cartoon, the Road Runner is potential prey for Wile E. Coyote. But in the real world, the Greater Roadrunner is an excellent predator. BirdNote contributor Alex Chadwick visited Mark Flippo, a retired park ranger at Big Bend National Park, to learn more about the behavior of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

What Do Desert Birds Drink?

In the desert Southwest, water can be scarce. Yet some birds, like this Black-throated Sparrow, thrive in a scorching landscape. The birds obtain moisture from foods like nectar and fruit, as well as insects and other prey. They tuck into the shade in the heat of the day, so they won’t lose water... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

The Mockingbird - A Virtuoso of Variety

This aptly named Northern Mockingbird might imitate, in succession, birds as different as a bobwhite quail, a chat, a sandpiper — even a cardinal — then cap it off with the meow of a cat and a few phrases of car alarm. In spring, a male mockingbird sings all day, with hundreds of variations ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, species account, vocalization

Sparrows Sing in Arizona Monsoon

Midday temperatures in southeast Arizona soar above 100 degrees during the month of July. But relief is coming. A summer monsoon refreshes the Sonoran Desert like a second spring. Grass grows lush, wildflowers spring forth, and birds sing. Cassin’s Sparrows sing their plaintive phrases almost... read more »

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Bosque del Apache, High Desert Oasis

At this time of year, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico is a birder's paradise. The refuge — critical wintering habitat for great numbers of birds — sits where the north edge of the Chihuahuan desert meets the Rio Grande River. Witness the magnificent spectacle of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  festival

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