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migration

Navigating by Earth's Magnetic Field

How do birds navigate? They steer by landmarks and by the sun and stars. A keen sense of smell helps some birds chart their course. And, it turns out, migrating birds also find their way by responding to the magnetic field of the earth. Iron-rich magnetic crystals inside the upper beak of this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Wilson's Warbler near Summer's End

By early August, the rich yellow of the feathers of the Wilson's Warbler seems to flash in every forest thicket. Despite predators and weather, many pairs of adults have raised four young, which now flit about on their own. The young males hatched this spring learned their father's songs this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Wilson's Warblers Benefit from Shade-grown Coffee

Early this fall, the tiny Wilson's Warbler began its long migration to Belize, where it winters. Navigating by the stars, the 1/4-ounce bird made a series of night flights spanning more than 2500 miles. This warbler returns to the same coffee plantation each year. Taller trees that shade the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Vaux's Swift Roost

The largest known swift roost in the world - over 30,000 Vaux's Swifts - can be seen each September in Portland, Oregon, in a chimney at Chapman Elementary School. Portland Audubon hosts a Swift Watch. Learn more about this program and be sure to see a video of the swifts swirling down the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Wilson's Warbler Part IV

A week of non-stop singing attracts a female Wilson's Warbler to the male's territory at the edge of the forest. The female alone builds a nest, concealing it in mossy ground at the base of a shrub, or perhaps in a tussock of grass. She lays four eggs, which she incubates for 12 days. When the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Vernal Equinox - East

This Carolina Wren doesn't know the precise instant of the vernal equinox of course. But the wren senses the growing hours of daylight through a surge of hormones, which tell it it's time to sing. Both science and folklore tie Spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Raptors and Wind Farms

Wind farms allow us to convert renewable wind energy into electricity. The concept seems environmentally benign, but the windmills are often installed along the same ridges favored by migrating birds for their currents. The farms would be less hazardous to migratory birds if they were sited... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Vernal Equinox - West

Ahhh, the first day of spring . . . at last! And the birds know somethin' is up. Both science and folklore tie Spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long cold winter. Here's a Virginia Rail, usually unseen but hardly unheard, ringing in the new season. Spring has sprung.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Operation Migration

Unlike many other birds that have an inherent sense of direction and destination, young Whooping Cranes have to learn their migration route from the adults. Enter Operation Migration and ultralight aircraft to lead them on their journey! Fortunately, the young cranes need to be shown the way only... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Vaux's Swift Roost in Monroe

In late summer and early fall, migrating Vaux's Swifts seek nighttime shelter in chimneys in the West, Chimney Swifts in the East. A gathering of swifts waits until dusk to descend into a chimney. The swifts enter in a continuous swirl. Each swift drops into the opening with wings raised, feet... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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