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ecology

Strange Twins - Purple and Rock Sandpipers

On the north Atlantic coast, a slate-gray sandpiper picks among the barnacles and mussels that encrust a jetty’s massive boulders. At the same moment, a parallel scene unfolds on the north Pacific Coast. A slate-colored sandpiper emerges from the salt spray to forage over a windswept jetty. These... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Red-backed Fairywren - Speciation and Biodiversity

How do new kinds of birds and animals arise in the world? How does nature proceed from having a single species to having two different species? To find out, Dr. Mike Webster of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is studying Red-backed Fairywrens in Australia. These birds, like the male pictured here,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, ornithology, plumage

The Importance of the Yellow Sea - With Nils Warnock

For shorebirds like Bar-tailed Godwits, Black-bellied Plovers, and Dunlin, mud matters. Few mudflats are more important than those of the Yellow Sea along the coast of China, and North and South Korea, where more than 70 species of shorebirds rest and feed. For several species of shorebirds,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration

Learning to Band Birds - Puget Sound Bird Observatory

Picture yourself holding a tiny, Black-capped Chickadee like this one. Or a big, blue Steller’s Jay! Volunteer Mark Purcell did just that while learning to net and band birds with the Puget Sound Bird Observatory. “It’s thrilling to see a bird that close,” he says. “You have complete control over... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  citizen science, ecology, science

Restoring Bird Colonies with Social Attraction

What does relocating Caspian Terns from an island in the Columbia River have to do with luring Short-tailed Albatrosses away from an active volcano in Japan? They both use methods of social attraction pioneered by Dr. Stephen Kress. Social attraction utilizes visual cues such as decoys and audio... read more »

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How Evolution Works, Featuring Dr. Mike Webster

After breeding in Alaska, some Swainson’s Thrushes migrate across Canada to the East Coast before turning south to Ecuador. Others migrate directly down the Pacific Coast to the same destination. Why are some are traveling twice the distance? Dr. Mike Webster of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, science

Woodpeckers Carve Out Roost Cavities, Too

In spring, we often hear woodpeckers hard at work, carving out nest holes in tree trunks. And now that fall has arrived, we may hear that excavating sound again. Some woodpecker species stay year round in the region where they nest, while others migrate south in winter. Those that remain, like... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Geolocators Reveal Secrets of Landbird Migration

Geolocators are revealing fascinating information about the lives of migratory birds. These devices are so light that they can be mounted on the backs of even small birds like the Wood Thrush pictured here with its nestlings. Thanks to geolocators, we know that many Wood Thrushes return to the U.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, ornithology, science

Evolution of European Blackcaps - Featuring Mike Webster

Nature is evolving constantly. Dr. Mike Webster of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes an example of rapid evolution and adaptation from the world of birds. He says the European Blackcap, a species of warbler, used to breed in Germany during the summer and migrate to Spain in the winter. But... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, human interaction, migration

Fake Marbled Murrelet Eggs Cause Jays to Vomit

Because the Marbled Murrelet lays only one egg, its odds of raising a family are slim. Steller's Jays – as they frequent campgrounds in the redwood forests of northern California, looking for human handouts – further threaten murrelet reproduction by eating their eggs. Fortunately, scientists... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

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