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plumage

In Winter, Puffins Lead Very Different Lives

Every summer, puffins — like this Horned Puffin — grow blazingly colorful layers over the bases of their huge beaks. But in the winter, puffins lead very different lives, and they shed their bright ornamentation. Puffins in winter are largely solitary — and silent. They spend about seven months... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Fancy Fruit-doves in the South Pacific

Fruit-doves are forest-dwelling doves of the South Pacific found on island groups like the Philippines and New Guinea. There are 54 species of fruit-doves, most about the size of a Mourning Dove or smaller, and they do indeed eat fruit. The combinations of bold colors in fruit-doves are unmatched... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Female Anna's Hummingbird Preening

Living year round along the Pacific Coast of the US and into the Southwest, Anna's Hummingbirds are territorial, feisty little favorites at backyard feeders. This female was photographed perched and preening by Mike Hamilton.Check out these BirdNote shows about Anna's Hummingbirds:Who Was Anna... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography, plumage

Scintillating Starlings

In Africa, where there are dozens of starling species, a quick look reveals a variety of visual stunners. Some of the names hint at their dazzle: Superb Starling, as well as Golden-breasted, Emerald, Purple, Violet-backed, and Splendid Glossy Starlings. Starlings sparkle because they have special... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Eclectic Plumages of Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus Parrots are big, loud, colorful parrots native to the lowland rainforests of New Guinea and northern Australia. The female (seen right) and the male are so different, they were once thought to be two separate species. Such a dramatic sexual contrast in plumage is rare in parrots. It... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Why Is That Bird Part White? Leucism!

If you see a bird with abnormal white feathers or washed-out plumage, that bird may have a genetic condition called leucism, (pronounced LUKE-ism). Leucism prevents pigments from reaching some — or sometimes all — of a bird’s feathers. Check out these photos of leucistic birds by several BirdNote... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Have You Ever Seen a Pink Gull?

Some gulls and terns may show a glowing pink color, similar to that of flamingos and spoonbills. This pink color comes from pigments in the birds' food called carotenoids. These gulls and terns are able to convert these naturally occurring pigments to hues that may enhance their success at... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Why Is My Robin Half White?

If you see a bird with abnormal white feathers, like this American Robin, that bird may have a genetic condition called leucism. Leucistic birds, like all-white birds bred in captivity, have a genetic condition preventing pigments from reaching some — or sometimes all — of a bird’s feathers.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Great Egret's Lacy Courtship

Male Great Egrets have special long feather plumes called aigrettes, which they use in courtship displays in the spring. These beautiful big birds were nearly hunted to extinction for these special feathers, which were used to adorn ladies’ hats. The plight of the egret spurred people to organize... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, plumage

A Trick of the Light . . .

Anna's Hummingbirds sparkle with iridescence... with their emerald green back and hot pink throats — known as gorgets. But wait! Catch them in a certain light, and the sparkle goes away, or entirely new and vibrant colors appear. The microscopic structure of the feather barbules — not pigments —... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

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