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Winter

Basalt as Shelter

As the winter sun sinks over the Coulee Lakes, hundreds of Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches suddenly appear, an undulating cloud that swarms into the upper levels of the basalt cliffs. The finches nest high in the mountains in summer, and roam the countryside in large flocks in winter. Gray-crowned Rosy... read more »

More Eyes and Ears

A family of dapper Black-capped Chickadees call as they hang upside down, pecking at alder seeds. A wren skulks and buzzes through the underbrush. A petite Downy Woodpecker whinnies nearby. Mixed-species flocks may include a dozen species and more than fifty individuals. More ears and eyes mean... read more »

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Flocking and Foraging

In winter, a foraging flock might include several species of birds: chickadees, kinglets, and even a Downy Woodpecker. Many bird species eat alone, so you might wonder why these birds have chosen to dine together. Different species flocking together to find food enhances the success of all. One... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Great Horned Owls Nest

High in a leafless cottonwood, a female Great Horned Owl incubates two eggs. As light snow falls on her back, her mate roosts nearby. Since December, this pair has been hooting back and forth regularly at night. Great Horned Owls nest in winter, because the owlets, which hatch after a month of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Winter Brings Falcons

A Merlin — like this one — hunts boldly from a high perch. A Peregrine Falcon dives on a hapless pigeon, with an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour. The Gyrfalcon can fly down even the fastest waterfowl in a direct sprint. A Prairie Falcon blends in with its background. And the smallest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Common Redpoll

The tiny Common Redpoll, one of the smallest members of the finch family, weighs only as much as four pennies, yet it survives the cold and darkness of winter in the far North. Most birds depart in autumn to warmer climes. But redpolls feed on birch and alder seeds that are available throughout... read more »

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Where Are They Now?

Where have the birds of summer gone? The Swainson's Thrush is wintering in Central or South America, maybe as far south as Bolivia. Warbling Vireos are now spread through much of Central America, while Black-headed Grosbeaks have migrated to Mexico. This Orange-crowned Warbler also makes Mexico... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Chickadees on a Cold Night - Interview with Susan Sharbaugh

The Black-capped Chickadees of Fairbanks, Alaska, endure nights as cold as 40 degrees below zero. Dr. Susan Sharbaugh, a scientist at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has studied them. She says that each chickadee wedges itself into a tiny cavity. Then the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Carol of the Birds - With Nancy Rumbel

To celebrate the season, Nancy Rumbel, who composed and played the BirdNote theme music, performs "Carol of the Birds." This version was arranged by Nancy herself, with the accompaniment of Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, a Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, House Finch, American... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, vocalization

Julenek - Birds at Christmas

Birds are an important part of Christmas in Norway. On Christmas Eve, sheaves of wheat or oats are tied to a post or hung on the door, to feed the birds on Christmas morning. This bundle of grain, the julenek, has become a symbol of Christmas in Norway, and a julenek hangs on nearly every door,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding

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