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science

Monitoring the Health of Coastal Raptors

Since 1995, biologist Dan Varland, Executive Director of Coastal Raptors, has been monitoring the health of raptors on the Washington coast, where Peregrine Falcons stoop on shorebirds feeding along the tideline. He’s looking for mercury and DDT in the birds’ blood systems. Though it has been... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, science

Voices and Vocabularies - How Birds Sing So Loudly

When a Carolina Wren like this one sings, something remarkable happens. These birds can sing so loudly that you almost have to shout to be heard over their songs!How can a bird like a Carolina Wren – at just 5½ inches long and weighing only as much as four nickels – produce so much sound? The... read more »

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Denver Holt - It's About People

When Denver Holt began his owl research 30 years ago, he was focused on disseminating his findings to the scientific community. Today, he believes that sharing information with both wildlife managers and citizens will make an important difference for owls – including this Long-eared Owl. “In... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, science

Biomimicry - Japanese Trains Mimic Kingfisher

High-speed passenger trains in Japan were once a real headache, because their engineering caused a "tunnel boom," a huge boom created by air being pushed out of the tunnel ahead of a train. But the chief engineer for the West Japan Railway Company was a birder, and he’d seen Eurasian... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

California Clapper Rail Study by the USGS

Book researcher, freelance writer, and photographer Ingrid Taylar was on hand in January 2009, when a US Geological Survey team from the Western Ecological Research Center arrived to band and radio-tag the remaining thousand or so California Clapper Rails in the Bay Area. Here's her story. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Protecting Birds from Wind Power

Birds take advantage of windy ridges and other land-forms that create thermals and updrafts to carry them on their migrations. These same windy locations recommend themselves for wind-power turbines. It’s a tricky problem: On one hand, a Department of Energy report calls for the US to generate 20... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Migration Routes Evolve

Why do birds consistently follow certain routes in their migrations? Pathways of migration evolved, shaped by the wind. During the height of the last ice age, ice-free breeding habitat for songbirds remained in what is now Alaska and parts of Western Canada. Studies of fossil pollen show that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

A Northern Gannet Meets Superstorm Sandy

Here's a remarkable story about a bird that survived Superstorm Sandy. A Northern Gannet was flying over the Atlantic Ocean near New Jersey’s south shore, just as Sandy reached the coast there. Coincidentally, the gannet wore a tiny GPS transmitter on a tail-feather, so scientists were able to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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

Ridgway's Rails on San Francisco Bay

Once abundant around San Francisco Bay, the Ridgway’s Rail — formerly known as the California Clapper Rail — is now endangered. In the 19th Century, unregulated hunting plundered the species. In the 20th Century, rampant development reduced salt marsh habitat by 85%. But in the 21st Century, the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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