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Grassland Meander

In summer, the grasslands of southern Saskatchewan resound with bird song. This Bobolink is among the birds that combine their voices in a rich, ringing chorus. Through these grasslands flows the Frenchman River, twisting and looping – the epitome of a meandering river. The southern reaches of... read more »

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Burrowing Owls Hiss Like a Rattlesnake!

Despite its name, the Burrowing Owl doesn’t do much digging. It’s better known for its hair-raising hiss, which may have evolved to mimic the warning of a cornered rattlesnake. The sonic threat of a venomous reptile could be just enough to warn away most unwanted visitors from the owl’s nest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science, sound

California Condor

During the days of mammoths and saber-toothed cats, California Condors thrived over much of the continent. Today, they're one of the most endangered birds in the US. The condor's main survival problem is high mortality due to lead poisoning. Condors eat animal carcasses, often containing lead... read more »

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A Vast Unseen Migration

During late summer, these Sooty Shearwaters will join a vast migration, when millions of seabirds fly over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Jaegers that nested on the Arctic tundra are flying south to tropical oceans. Arctic Terns and skuas make an epic journey to Antarctic waters. Shearwaters in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Texas Hill Country Conservation

Paul Davis owns 1,500 acres in the Hill Country of Texas that he manages, not for cattle, but as habitat for warblers and vireos. He’s preserving stands of native juniper. He says: “We have two birds down there that are very, very localized. The Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo.... read more »

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The Gulls of Summer

Gull-watching is pretty tame along the coasts most of the summer. Many gull species retreat north to nest; a few others nest inland. Along the Atlantic, it’s mostly nesting Herring and Laughing Gulls that stick around through summer. On the Pacific Coast, it’s Glaucous-winged and Western. But by... read more »

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Sapsuckers and Sap

Sapsuckers, a specialized group of woodpeckers, don’t actually suck sap. After pecking neat rows of small holes in trees to cause the sugary liquid to flow, the birds lick it up with tongues tipped with stiff hairs. So why doesn’t a sapsucker’s beak get stuck shut? Part of the answer may lie in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Willow Flycatcher

Willow Flycatchers nest across the northern two-thirds of the US and southernmost Canada. They arrived on their nesting grounds in late May or early June. Territorial males sang almost nonstop through June and with less gusto in July. Before long, their sneezy songs will fall silent. By late... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Shifts in Habitat = Shifts in Species

We asked David Sibley, creator and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, how changes in the environment are affecting birds such as this Brown Thrasher. He says, “A shift of habitat has caused a shift in the species” he's observed in the Northeastern US. For example, Wild Turkeys, Pileated... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Great Blue Heron, Alone Again

Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, in adjoining trees or with several nests in one tree. But by autumn, the adults and gangly young have left the nests to take up solitary lives, a pattern that is the reverse of many other species. After all the "togetherness" of the nesting colonies, the Great... read more »

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