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Field Notes

A Tale of Hummingbird Etiquette

Artist and writer Beth Surdut listens to ravens and has paddled with alligators in wild and scenic places. She also knows about proper etiquette when encountering the smallest, fastest bird in the desert...This story starts with bird droppings. But before I go any further, if you have a penny and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, reflection

Red-winged Blackbirds - Denizens of the Marsh

It’s spring, and a male Red-winged Blackbird brandishes his red epaulets to warn away other male Red-winged Blackbirds from his patch of cattails. At the same time, he sings to lure the females into his marshy territory.        The female blends right in with the cattails, as... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Ever Heard of a Sandgrouse?

The part about the “sand” is true. But the “grouse”? Not so much. Sandgrouse – of the family Pteroclididae – are actually related to pigeons and doves. And they live in some of the most parched environments on earth. They're found in aridlands in northern, southern, and eastern Africa, the Middle... read more »

What's Up with That Owl? Casting Pellets...

Many kinds of birds — from herons to hawks (and all kinds of raptors, including owls), even shorebirds and fish-eaters like kingfishers — regurgitate pellets. The digestive systems of these birds have to deal with bones, scales, fur, or feathers. So the bird’s gizzard performs a kind of sorting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography

In Search of the Araripe Manakin

Former BirdNote board member, Gerrit Vyn, is a sound recordist and photographer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The bird he's looking for is a stunner — the Araripe Manakin. The bird is critically endangered, in part because it has a tiny global range – occurring only on the slopes of Brazil... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography, recording

Nature's Goggles - Nictitating Membranes

They're there and then they're gone — literally in the blink of an eye!The nictitating membrane is a “third eyelid” that extends from the inner corner of the eye to the outer corner. You may see it when a bird (like this Black Vulture) – or certain other creature – blinks. Thinner and more... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography, science

Pileated Woodpecker roosting holes

Photographer Gregg Thompson had a stroke of good fortune. He writes:In late September, I noticed a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers on this tree trunk. It was too late in the year for them to have any chicks, and after I read a bit, I decided this was a roosting tree. It could have been a nesting... read more »

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The Living Bird - New Book from Cornell, by Gerrit Vyn & Others

A beautiful hardcover book from Cornell, The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature, celebrates the joyful and complex relationship between birds and people. The Living Bird features photos by award-winning photographer and BirdNote board member, Gerrit Vyn. The images are woven together... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  ornithology, photography

Black-backed Woodpeckers - Pioneers of the Post-Fire Forests

What is it about Black-backed Woodpeckers and fire?Audubon's Alisa Opar wrote in an earlier blog: "Black-backed Woodpeckers are perhaps the most iconic of post-fire species, since they’re wholly reliant on burn zones."Maya Khosla now shares with us her experience of surveying a post-fire area, in... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science

Strike, Shake, and Gulp

Everett Marina, Everett, Washington –While out taking photographs last week, Gregg Thompson was able to catch a Great Egret in action. He writes:I seem to have gotten caught up in shooting sequences of behavior.I especially like having a situation where a certain behavior is repeated many times,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography

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