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nesting

The Colors of Chicken Eggs

Except around Easter, chicken eggs usually come in a predictable range of colors: white, brown, and sometimes pale blue or green. Chickens are descended from the Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, which has been providing eggs for humans for thousands of years. The final color of an egg comes... read more »

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Female Blackbirds Choose Their Mates

One male Red-winged Blackbird’s marshland territory may include five—or even as many as fifteen—nesting females. And he makes an effort to mate with every one of them. Biologists call this polygyny - when one male claims breeding rights with multiple females. But while this may look like the... read more »

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Gray Camouflage: Dippers and Female Harlequin Ducks

For some birds that nest along western streams — including American Dippers and female Harlequin Ducks, like this one — the best way to remain inconspicuous is to hide in plain sight—by looking like just another wet, gray stone. The female Harlequin, resting atop a boulder, is master of... read more »

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How a Bird Came to Look Like a Caterpillar

The Cinereous Mourner is a small, ashy-gray bird that lives in the forest understory of the Amazon Basin. And it’s taking mimicry to the next level: when viewed from above, lying alone in its cup-shaped nest, its chick is a near match to a highly toxic caterpillar — one that snakes and monkeys... read more »

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Pigeons Make Milk

Pigeons, one of the most ancient of domesticated animals, feed their nestlings a peculiar, milky substance, straight from the adult’s beak to the baby’s throat. It’s called pigeon milk, a fat-rich substance loaded with antioxidants and immunity factors that enhance the survival of newborns — much... read more »

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Big Ducks, Small Ducks, and the Economy of Nesting

Ducks that start laying eggs soon after arriving at a suitable nest site are sometimes called “capital” breeders, because they carry with them, in their bodies, all the food and fat reserves they need to begin nesting when they arrive. “Income” breeders arrive at their nesting sites after a long... read more »

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Treeswifts: Exquisite Minimalists

The treeswifts of India, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and beyond make their nests out of bits of plants and feathers and hold it all together with some very sticky saliva. A treeswift’s whole nest is but a tiny cup — just large enough to hold a single egg — stuck to a bare upright branch. The... read more »

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Eastern Kingbirds Feeding Chicks

Photographer Gregg Thompson watched Eastern Kingbirds feeding their chicks and shared photos of a “...sequence both amusing and interesting at the same time.The adult comes in with some food. Sometimes all of the chicks and other times just the closest beg, and the adult drops the food in their... read more »

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Great Blue Heron nest - it's getting crowded!

On the last day of a very sunny and warm May, this Great Blue Heron nest was bursting with life. Gregg Thompson took these wonderful photos at a heron colony in Everett, Washington.###All photos are © Gregg Thompson and may not be used without permission. read more »

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Listen for Tapping

Woodpeckers are our most familiar bird carpenters, but other birds also chip out nests in trees and wood structures. Nuthatches — like this Red-breasted Nuthatch — are exceptional wood carvers, with their chisel-like bills. Chickadees will peck into less dense wood, carrying out wood chips by the... read more »

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