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nesting

Tree Swallows and Feathers

Tree Swallows glisten in the June sunlight, as they swoop and glide, their arcs interlacing in the air. When a white feather flutters down among them, one swallow snatches the feather in its bill and flies upward, as another gives chase. After a moment, the lead bird lets loose the feather, which... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Short-tailed Albatross Chick Survives Tsunami

In January 2011, a pair of Short-tailed Albatrosses produced their first chick on Midway Atoll. Never before had this endangered bird bred outside of Japan. But in March, while the parents were foraging at sea, the tsunami that struck Japan also reached Midway, washing the chick off its nest.... read more »

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Midway Project - The Plastic Gyre, with Chris Jordan

Artist Chris Jordan brings a deep energy to a huge environmental problem - the accumulation of plastic debris in the world's oceans. He's photographing its effect on the Laysan Albatrosses of Midway Island. Adult albatrosses mistake pieces of plastic for squid and fish and feed them to their... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Wood Storks and Climate Change

Wood Storks nest in trees, often in big colonies, and only when conditions are just right for them. Because of their feeding technique, they thrive in the early part of the dry season, when receding floodwaters concentrate fish in small pools. But this method of feeding is effective only when the... read more »

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Why Birds Sing

Why do birds sing? Ornithologists have learned that the longer hours of light that come with spring trigger the release of hormones in birds. These hormones prompt the enlargement of the birds' gonads which, in turn, stimulate male birds to sing. Male birds - like this Black-headed Grosbeak - can... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting, vocalization

Frank Bellrose and the Wood Ducks

In the 1800s, Wood Ducks were possibly the most abundant ducks east of the Mississippi. But the draining of wetlands, the cutting of forests, and market hunting caused precipitous declines. In 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act completely banned the hunting of Wood Ducks for 23 years. This... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Flickers and Buffleheads

After a Northern Flicker carves out a nest cavity, chances are the birds will use the cavity for just one nesting season. But the cavity may have a prolonged career as a home for small owls, bluebirds, swallows, and other birds - including the Bufflehead. Buffleheads - like the family seen here -... read more »

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Saving Snags for Red-headed Woodpeckers

Red-headed Woodpeckers excavate cavities in large, dead trees called snags. Yet, over much of the Red-head's range, snags are frequently cut down as unsightly, or because they make good firewood. There are ways we can help the Red-headed Woodpecker -- and many other woodpeckers, too. The key is... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening, nesting

Making a Home Among the Saguaros

In the arid Arizona desert, where cacti thrive but trees are scarce, the Gila Woodpecker and this Gilded Flicker carve out nest cavities in living saguaros. Tall, old saguaros may be pocked with twenty or more nest holes, bearing witness to decades of woodpecker families. The woodpeckers excavate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Northern Pintail - Elegance and Decline

In recent years, unlike many other North American ducks, Northern Pintails present a portrait of sharp decline. Pintails nest in grasslands near seasonal wetlands. Increasingly, these grasslands are being plowed up to grow crops such as corn. But people who love pintails are responding. Ducks... read more »

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