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nesting

The Sociable Weaver's Colonial Nest

When it comes to nests, common sense suggests that large birds build large nests, and small birds build small nests. But in fact, some species of smaller birds build large nests. None, though, builds anything like the communal structures of Sociable Weavers in southern Africa’s arid plains. These... read more »

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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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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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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

Chickadees Clean Up After the Youngsters

Imagine this Black-capped Chickadee flying toward its nest, carrying fresh insects for its chicks. A moment later, it emerges with a tiny white pouch in its bill. The chickadee drops the object into the vegetation below. That outgoing payload is a fecal sac, a remarkable adaptation found in... 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

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