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The Most Abundant Birds in North America

By August, most birds in North America have finished nesting, bringing legions of new birds into the world. These Mourning Doves, which prosper in many environments, are among the most abundant birds on the continent. Their population is estimated at 350 million! In second place is the American... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, science

Birds and Baseball

At the crack of the bat, a Blue Jay flies toward first and glides around the base. Deep in left field, an Oriole pounces on the ball. He wings the ball toward second, where a fellow Oriole snares it on a hop - just as the swift Blue Jay slides toward the base in a cloud of red dust. Ahh, summer... read more »

Topics & Themes:  sports

Turkey Vulture, A Poem

Vultures are an avian clean-up crew, removing carrion from the landscape. When Turkey Vultures circle low, you can see their naked red heads and deeply slotted black primary feathers. With their wings canted in a dihedral "V," they tilt upwind from side to side. The Turkey Vulture's keen sense of... read more »

Topics & Themes:  reflection

"Thanks for Making Us Play Outside!"

As a young boy, David Sibley often explored the outdoors with his father. He recalls turning over logs to look for mole crickets, identifying plants, and watching for birds. We asked David for ways to encourage children to connect with nature: “My advice to other parents is just to get outdoors,”... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Cowbird Parasitism

Back when the buffalo roamed, Brown-headed Cowbirds followed -- and ate the insects stirred up by the herd. The buffalo didn't stay long in one place, so the cowbirds didn't have time to build a nest. Cowbirds lay eggs in other birds' nests, and those parents raise their young. Seen here: the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Barn Owls Let You Know

The structure and delicate softness of its feathers allow a Barn Owl to approach its prey almost without sound. The Barn Owl's ability to locate prey by sound, even when concealed by snow or leaves, is the most precise of any animal yet tested. This young Barn Owlet is about five weeks old and... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Birds That Say Their Own Names

Some birds, such as the Northern Bobwhite, take their names from their songs or vocalizations: "Bobwhite! Bobwhite!" The Killdeer is another bird named for its song: "Kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee." There are others. "Poorwill, poorwill, poorwill" calls this Common Poorwill. This bird is the... read more »


Gray Jay - Picnic Bird

Often called the Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack, the mountain-dwelling Gray Jay will crash a picnic faster than hungry ants. The robber escapes with edible tidbits and caches them in trees with its sticky saliva, reclaiming its stored food in the cold, snowy winter. The nickname "Whiskey Jack" comes... read more »


Sanctuary and Bird Sound - with Patti McLead

When Patti and Patrick McLead purchased land near the Edwards Plateau in Texas, they wanted to create a bed and breakfast that doubled as a bird sanctuary. They built cottages and created a meadow. When they put in a pond, birds were quick to respond. This Black-crested Titmouse is among the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Killdeer - Master of Distraction

The Killdeer is one of the most widespread and commonly seen shorebirds in North America. Killdeers lure predators - including humans - away from their nest by calling loudly while appearing to limp and drag a wing. Found throughout the United States and Canada, they nest on the ground, often in... read more »