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nesting

Purple Martins Change Their Habits

While Purple Martins west of the Rockies will happily nest in an old woodpecker hole, Purple Martins east of the Rockies rarely nest in natural cavities. Instead, they nest in birdhouses provided by humans. They depend on people to a huge extent and thrive close by their homes. People, in turn,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, nesting

Screech-Owls Are Looking for a Home

Looking for a project this winter? Consider giving screech-owls a helping hand. Eastern and Western Screech-Owls span the wooded areas of the continent, nesting in tree cavities left vacant by large woodpeckers. However, such natural housing opportunities are often in short supply. That’s where... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, nesting

Blind Snakes and Screech-Owls

During the breeding season, when Eastern Screech-Owls capture the worm-like reptiles known as blind snakes, they deliver them to their chicks alive and wriggling. Some are gulped down immediately, but others escape by burrowing beneath the nest. The surviving “snakes” feed on the insect larvae... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Do Parrots Name Their Chicks?

Parrots are among the smartest of birds. But are they clever enough to know each other by name? Research conducted by ornithologist Karl Berg suggests the answer might be yes. Berg’s studies of Green-rumped Parrotlets — such as the one pictured here — indicate that every parrot in a family... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, vocalization

Where Do Fledglings Go?

By late summer, most birds hatched in spring are on their own, without help from their parents. Where do they go? Young migratory birds will head south in late summer or fall, in the pattern of their species. But most non-migratory birds born last spring — such as this immature Bewick’s Wren —... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Bald Eagles Fledge

When young Bald Eagles fledge, the event is the culmination of nearly a year’s work by the parents. Let’s recap how it might have gone: male and female build a nest over the winter. By March, they have two eggs. The female incubates the eggs for about a month, with the male taking an occasional... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Are Birds Nests Reused?

Let’s talk about nests. Every spring, robins build their cup-shaped nests using grass and mud. Orioles weave a hanging sack. It’s hard work, and yet once the chicks fledge, the structures probably won’t be reused. But bigger birds, such as herons, hawks, and eagles, often reuse a nest for many... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Sungrebe: Baby on Board

Birds have developed many strategies for protecting their young. But only one species can tuck its chicks into pouches under its wings, then fly the young to safety. It’s the Sungrebe of Central and South America. Despite the name, they are not closely related to grebes. Sungrebes swim and dive... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, ornithology

How Many Eggs to Lay?

When nesting, most birds lay a predictable number of eggs. Bald Eagles: 2. Bluebirds: 4 to 6. Mallards: 10 to 12. But how do they determine when they have laid the right number? To find out, scientists experimented by going to nests and repeatedly removing eggs soon after they were laid. Some... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, ornithology

Robins Are Very Choosy Nesters

When scientists looked at climate data for more than 8,500 robins’ nests in the US, they found that robins will nest only if the mean noon temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. But even more critical is relative humidity: it needs to be around 50 percent in the middle of the day. What’s so... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, ecology, nesting, science

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