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Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)

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Gaping Blackbirds

Gordon Orians describes an unusual adaptation in blackbirds called gaping: "...the ability to forcibly open the bill against some pressure, so that a bird can push its bill into the base of a grass clump, and forcibly open it, which reveals the insects that may be down hidden in the base. ...... read more »

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Meadowlarks and Grasslands

The clear, whistled music of the Eastern Meadowlark (seen here) is the unmistakable anthem of eastern North America's farmlands and open country. The Western Meadowlark and its sweet, liquid notes epitomize the natural expanses of the American West. Sadly, birds of such grassy habitats are among... read more »

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Tallgrass Prairie

Tallgrass prairie, a sea of grass, once stretched from Manitoba to Texas, a landscape of almost unimaginable natural abundance. Heading west, Lewis and Clark came upon savannahs as far as the eye could see, covered with herds of bison, elk, pronghorn, and deer. Only a tiny fraction of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Restoring Prairies for Grassland Birds

Thanks to Tom Vanderpoel and Citizens For Conservation, grassland birds like this Eastern Meadowlark are benefiting from expanded habitat in northeast Illinois, where volunteers are restoring native prairies. In autumn, volunteers collect seeds from restored grasslands. In spring, they scatter... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

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

Solon Towne and the Meadowlarks

Over a century ago, a Nebraska man — an audiologist by training — named Solon Towne “collected” the songs of meadowlarks. According to his daughters, he’d saunter about their farm, listening carefully. Then he’d hurry back to his desk to transcribe the birds’ songs into musical notes. To help him... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization
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