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Important Bird Areas

In order to survive, birds – like all creatures – need the essentials of life: food, water, shelter, a place to bring forth the next generation. The single name for these essentials is habitat. Fortunately, some high-quality habitats for birds have become “Important Bird Areas” or IBAs. Whether... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  Important Bird Areas, migration

People Caring for IBAs - With Patrick Comins

Patrick Comins, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Connecticut, explains why Long Beach and its adjoining salt marsh near the town of Stratford are so important for birds. Nearly 300 species of birds, including Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs like these, have been recorded at Great Meadows,... read more »

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Wandering Tattlers Hit the Coast

This dusky forager among the mussels and barnacles goes by the curious name of Wandering Tattler. It was likely named for the notion that its rapid whistles alert other birds to the presence of a hunter, or other predator. And while it's not certain that the sandpiper actually "tattles," it truly... read more »

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Snipe Hunt

One of the most ethereal of spring sounds is that made by the Wilson's Snipe. Much as if they were playing a reed instrument, the male snipe produces a winnowing sound in flight by metering, with his wings, the flow of air over his tail-feathers. Among the most venerable of practical jokes... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language

Two Wings and a Tail

The Wilson's Snipe lives in marshes and muddy areas, where it probes for worms and other squirmy delights. But when spring comes, it takes to the air. The male Wilson's Snipe circles high above in a series of roller-coaster arcs, each descent marked by a loud and distinctive sound. This winnowing... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

The Longest Day of the Year

On the summer solstice, birds nesting near Juneau, Alaska take advantage of almost 18 1/2 hours between sunrise and sunset. This day in south Texas is considerably shorter, so the Altamira Oriole has only 14 hours to sing. Seattle's Song Sparrows see 16 hours of daylight; Sacramento's only 15.... read more »

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Wilson's Phalarope

If any bird is an anomaly, it's the Wilson's Phalarope. In a birdbook, Wilson's Phalaropes are found among the sandpipers. But they forage while swimming. Spinning like tops, they create an upwelling, pulling food to the surface. The breeding of Wilson's Phalaropes is anomalous, too. Females are... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, migration

Probing with Sandpipers

The variety of bill sizes and shapes among the sandpipers is astounding! Many sandpipers have sensitive nerve receptors in their bill tips, so they can find unseen prey through touch, odor, and pressure changes. Those sandpipers with long, straight bills - like this Long-billed Dowitcher - are... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Shorebirds in Kansas - Oval Migration Pattern

Almost half of all migratory shorebirds nesting in North America migrate through the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas. Almost all of the continent's Wilson's Phalaropes rest and refuel at the wetlands here. The birds fly a great oval route. In autumn, in the East, they head from... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Surfin' Bird Meets Surfbird

The Surfbird - nothing like the "Surfin' Bird" of 1960s Trashmen fame - makes its home along the Pacific Coast. An oddly constructed sandpiper, the Surfbird forages on rocky jetties along the coast. The bird's winter range ranks among the longest and narrowest of any bird, from Kodiak Island to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

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