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Christmas Bird Counts at the Extremes

This winter, volunteers will tally birds in more than 2,000 locations as part of the annual Christmas Bird Count. In the U.S., birders will venture forth at the very extremes of the country’s geographic reach. At Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, a few hardy souls will count birds in deep twilight, since the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  citizen science

Northern Forest Owls - Coming South this Winter?

Of all the surprises that winter might bring, among the most wonderful would be a grand influx of northern forest owls like this Boreal Owl. Every few years, a surprising number of owls move south from the boreal forest of Canada and Alaska into the northern tier of the United States, especially... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology

Wild Goose Chase - Birding in the Netherlands

BirdNote team member Adam Sedgley and his wife had the opportunity to relocate to Paris for nine months. Here he tells of his birding adventures in the Netherlands in early March 2013.Yeah, it’s cliché, and I am certainly not the first birdwatcher to use, or perhaps abuse, this phrase. But when... read more »

The Skinny on Dippers

Brendan McGarry reflects on an aquatic songbird, the American Dipper. read more »

Topics & Themes:  reflection

Red-crowned Cranes Dance on Hokkaido

On a snow-covered field in northern Japan, two majestic Red-crowned Cranes face one another, raise their heads toward the sky, and call in unison. As they call, the pair begins to dance. They bow to one another, then throw their heads over their backs, then bow again. The pair leaps into the air,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Rock Sandpipers Are Tough - Homer Spit Christmas Bird Count

It's winter on Homer Spit in southern Alaska, and Rock Sandpipers feed along the gravelly shore. These small shorebirds scurry this way and that, probing into the gravel and seaweed. Anything that moves is fair game, especially amphipods, the little crustaceans that hop about when exposed. The... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, citizen science

Solstice Fires

In The Golden Bough, Sir James Frazer describes early Europeans building solstice fires at year's end to strengthen the sun. Seeing the sun steadily weakening, steadily falling in its arc across the sky, they did what they could to restore it to health. Birds and other creatures of the natural... read more »

Winter - Nature's Cold Storage

For birds and other animals with good natural insulation, winter provides a striking benefit as they scavenge. Bacteria function very slowly or not at all in the cold, preventing dead bodies from rotting. In northern latitudes, ravens and other scavenging birds take advantage of winter's cold... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Swans Come Calling

Trumpeter Swans land in a plowed field to forage for remnant potatoes, grain, and other waste crops. This swan is among the largest of all waterfowl; the Tundra Swan is somewhat smaller. These swans migrate in family groups each fall from nesting sites in Canada and Alaska. Learn more about these... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

Bird Tracks in the Snow

Look for the stories birds tell with their tracks in the snow. A crow swaggers, leaving right-and-left steps much as a walking human would. Juncos under a birdfeeder leave a hopping pattern of tiny footprints in side-by-side pairs. Look for beak marks, where a bird picked up a choice morsel or... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching