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The Auklet's Whiskers - Not Just for Show

In Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, thousands of Whiskered Auklets — miniature relatives of puffins and murres — nest in deep rock crevices. The birds owe their name to the white plumes that sprout from their heads each summer. These fancy “whiskers” likely play a role in courtship. But they're not... read more »

Topics & Themes:  plumage

Long-tailed Duck: Little Known Duck of Many Secrets!

The Long-tailed Duck is not widely known outside birdwatching circles. But what a wonderful duck it is. Found only locally at certain times of the year, and with an oddly goofy, human-like voice, the otherwise elegant Long-tailed Duck has some interesting departures from "normal" duck biology... read more »

Topics & Themes:  plumage

Matthiessen Wind Birds

In The Wind Birds: Shorebirds of North America, nature writer and novelist Peter Matthiessen wrote: “The restlessness of shorebirds, their kinship with the distance and swift seasons, the wistful signal of their voices down the long coastlines of the world make them, for me, the most affecting of... read more »


Monitoring Rhinoceros Auklets on Protection Island

The nesting colony of Rhinoceros Auklets on Washington State’s Protection Island is among the largest in the world. The birds’ breeding success reflects the health of surrounding marine waters. Scientists are monitoring the type, number, and food value of the fish the adults provide. And to find... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting, science

Golden Eagle - The Other Eagle

The Bald Eagle stands proud as our national bird, spreads its wings on our national emblem, and serves as mascot of countless sports teams. So prominent is this iconic bird in our culture that we sometimes overlook a second, equally majestic eagle: the Golden Eagle. While Bald Eagles are confined... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, myth

The Music of Herring Gulls

For some of us, it’s hard to get excited about gulls. But they are just as fascinating – and have as much to tell us – as other birds. Take the Herring Gull, for example. Its appearance is striking, and its voice is unforgettable. Along the Atlantic coast of North America, the nesting population... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology

Why the Black Skimmer Skims

That’s not a distant dog barking. It’s a Black Skimmer in flight, at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. This striking, black-and-white bird with a red bill and red feet has a most unusual way of feeding. It flies low along the surface of the water with its beak open. Closely... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, ornithology, plumage

Restoring Bird Colonies with Social Attraction

What does relocating Caspian Terns from an island in the Columbia River have to do with luring Short-tailed Albatrosses away from an active volcano in Japan? They both use methods of social attraction pioneered by Dr. Stephen Kress. Social attraction utilizes visual cues such as decoys and audio... read more »


Bringing Puffins Back to Maine - With Stephen Kress

In 1977, Stephen Kress used a creative approach to reintroduce Atlantic Puffins to Eastern Egg Rock, an island in Maine’s Muscongus Bay: decoys! It had been 100 years since these charismatic birds had inhabited the island. Today, thanks to the continuing work by Dr. Kress and Project Puffin, the... read more »


Citizen Scientists Monitor Pigeon Guillemots

Govinda Rosling, co-coordinator of the Pigeon Guillemot Research Group, is one of 60 volunteer citizen scientists who dedicate their time during the summer months to survey birds at 25 breeding colonies. The guillemots are an indicator species -- their health really echoes the overall health of... read more »

Topics & Themes:  citizen science, science