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Spring

Robins Raise a Brood - In a Hurry

When it comes to raising a family, American Robins have got it down. Approximately eight days after the male and female mate, the female builds the nest.  A few days later, she lays eggs. She sits on the eggs for 18 hours a day, and the eggs hatch in about three weeks. Both parents feed the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons

In higher animals, the brain is like a Lamborghini — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

The Secret Stash of Eggshells

Developing eggshells requires a key ingredient — calcium — in larger quantities than the female typically has in her bloodstream. Just how different bird species supply or store calcium for egg-laying isn’t fully known. While some species seek out extra calcium from their... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Common Merganser with adorable young!

This small family of Common Mergansers -- a hen with her eight ducklings -- was photographed by Mike Hamilton near Seattle. This duck species nests in tree cavities resulting from broken limbs or excavated by woodpeckers. The female alone incubates the eggs, which hatch in about a month. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Bird Sound Types and Qualities Part I

Since it’s often hard to see a bird, veteran birders characterize the sounds of birds in order to identify them. So what words do they use? Well, they use “whistle,” for example, to describe the sound of this Olive-sided Flycatcher. And "rattle" for that of the Belted Kingfisher. There's the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

Spring Serenade in the Ozarks, With Steve Hilty

The Buffalo National River in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas was the first "national river" in the US. The river, part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, runs undammed for 135 miles. Its forest habitat is a great place for birds and other wildlife. There are at least 18 species of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection, sound

Bushtits Build Their Nest

Mike Hamilton photographed a pair of Bushtits building their sock-like, hanging nest. Both the male and the female work in building the pendulous nest, made from moss, lichen, and spider webs. The female (she's the one with yellow eyes) focuses more on the bowl, while the male builds out the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, ornithology

Sharp-tailed Grouse on a Lek

During spring at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, male Sharp-tailed Grouse  - like the one pictured here - perform their elaborate mating dances on a matted patch of ground called a lek. They stomp their feet, extend their wings, and zip around the lek. Then, in an instant,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, science

Pacific Chorus Frogs: Harbingers of Spring

On the West Coast, the sound of Pacific Chorus Frogs - also known as Pacific Tree Frogs - signals the arrival of spring. To send their calls into the night, the males swell their throat sacs to three times the size of their heads. Those who hear this chorus can be sure that Rufous... read more »

Radar Ornithology with Dr. Cliff Mass

Did you know that weather radar can track the migration of birds? Dr. Cliff Mass, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, describes the radar images from a massive migration through the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Shortly after midnight on September 8, huge... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

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