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ornithology

Red-backed Fairywren - Speciation and Biodiversity

How do new kinds of birds and animals arise in the world? How does nature proceed from having a single species to having two different species? To find out, Dr. Mike Webster of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is studying Red-backed Fairywrens in Australia. These birds, like the male pictured here,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, ornithology, plumage

Geolocators Reveal Secrets of Landbird Migration

Geolocators are revealing fascinating information about the lives of migratory birds. These devices are so light that they can be mounted on the backs of even small birds like the Wood Thrush pictured here with its nestlings. Thanks to geolocators, we know that many Wood Thrushes return to the U.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, ornithology, science

Deep-diving Emperor Penguins - Featuring Jessica Meir

The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin on the planet. It’s also the deepest and longest underwater diver. Biologist Jessica Meir, pictured here, traveled to Antarctica to study their amazing feats. She learned that Emperor Penguins can hold relatively more oxygen in their bodies than humans... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

Voices and Vocabularies - Exquisite Thrush Songs

Some believe the song of the Wood Thrush to be the most beautiful bird song in North America. Others select the song of the Hermit Thrush. Still others name the singing of the Swainson’s Thrush. How do thrushes like this Veery create such fine music? The answer is that the birds have a double... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science, sound, vocalization

Denver Holt - On Owls and Field Biology

Denver Holt has spent more than 30 years studying the birds in the field. No wonder he can sound so much like this Boreal Owl! Holt conducts field research on eight species of owls in Alaska and Montana. He says, "I think winter is a blast! We all love trapping and banding in the wintertime. It's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, ornithology

Alexa Freeman and the Birds of Papua New Guinea

Tropical biologists Alexandra and Ben Freeman are in Papua New Guinea, documenting the effects of a warming climate on birds that live on the slopes of a remote mountain. Birds like this King of Saxony Bird of Paradise. Often, their research puts them in touch with unexpected beauty, especially... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, ornithology, science

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler

Warblers can be hard to spot. But unlike many warblers that ply the tops of the trees, the Yellow-rumped Warbler is happy filtering through the lower branches of trees, providing flightless mortals with half a chance of seeing it. The Yellow-rumped Warbler is one of the most common warblers... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Swainson's Birds

William John Swainson, ornithologist, author, illustrator, was born in October 1789. He settled in New Zealand, and it's quite likely that he never saw any of the birds named for him. But because of Swainson's reputation and knowledge about birds, the Swainson's Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology

The Elegant Black Tern

Elegant Black Terns breed in summer on secluded wetlands across the northern states and Canada. Because of major losses of wetlands in their breeding range — especially in Canada's prairie provinces — Black Tern numbers have dropped dramatically since the 1960s. The future of this beautiful bird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, ornithology

Why Birds' Feet Don't Freeze

Have you ever watched ducks walking around in freezing temperatures and wondered why their feet don't freeze? And how do birds, including this Northern Flicker, sit on metal perches with no problem? Birds' feet have a miraculous adaptation that keeps them from freezing. Rete mirabile — Latin for ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

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