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nesting

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

Common Eiders Favor Close Relatives

Some species of birds try to save energy by tricking others into incubating their eggs. But if the parasitic female is a related species, she may have an advantage. After studying the nests of Common Eiders, such as the one pictured here, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Robins Raise a Brood - In a Hurry

When it comes to raising a family, American Robins have got it down. Approximately eight days after the male and female mate, the female builds the nest.  A few days later, she lays eggs. She sits on the eggs for 18 hours a day, and the eggs hatch in about three weeks. Both parents feed the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Boreal Forest - North America's Bird Nursery

Nearly half of all the bird species in the United States and Canada – including this Canada Warbler - depend on one amazing resource: the boreal forest. It stretches from the interior of Alaska across northern Canada, all the way to Newfoundland, providing critical habitat for up to three billion... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Birds, Nests, and Camouflage

Bird nests can be hard to find, often hidden in plain sight. Is the clever camouflage simply the result of using building materials that the birds happen to find? A Scottish research team used birds popular in the pet trade, Zebra Finches, to try and find out. The team gave nesting Zebra Finches... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science

The Secret Stash of Eggshells

Developing eggshells requires a key ingredient — calcium — in larger quantities than the female typically has in her bloodstream. Just how different bird species supply or store calcium for egg-laying isn’t fully known. While some species seek out extra calcium from their... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Burrowing Owls Hiss Like a Rattlesnake!

Despite its name, the Burrowing Owl doesn’t do much digging. It’s better known for its hair-raising hiss, which may have evolved to mimic the warning of a cornered rattlesnake. The sonic threat of a venomous reptile could be just enough to warn away most unwanted visitors from the owl’s nest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science, sound

Inside the burrow of a Rhinoceros Auklet

Everyone knows puffins. Who could forget their comical behavior — with an appearance to match? But you may not know about the Rhinoceros Auklet, a close relative to puffins, found in the Pacific Ocean. Its gray plumage is duller than that of puffins, but during the breeding season it sports a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science

Nesting Red-breasted Sapsuckers

Photographer Gregg Thompson spent several days watching the nest cavity of a pair of Red-breasted Sapsuckers, a species of woodpecker found in far western North America. Cavities are generally excavated in dead trees or dead portions of live trees. Pairs may return to nest in the same area — or... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, photography

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