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South America

Seasonal Flooding of the Amazon

When it’s predictable and wildlife is well adapted, natural flooding can create a biological bonanza. In the Amazon River Basin, which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, annual rains can raise water levels 30 to 40 feet in just days. Forests turn into vast lakes, dotted with trees, while... read more »

Binoculars and Birders' Exchange

Across Central and South America, conservationists, teachers, and researchers are benefiting from groups like Birder’s Exchange, a program of the American Birding Association. The program collects new and used binoculars, scopes, books, and tripods, and passes them on to people working to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

How Toucans Stay Cool

The Toco Toucan of South America has evolved to stay cool in the sweltering heat of the tropics. Relative to its body size, the Toco Toucan has the largest bill of any bird in the world, accounting for a third of the body’s entire surface area. It’s also laced with blood vessels and wholly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Cruise the Amazon - With BirdNote!

January 12 - 22, 2017 - Join us as we team up with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours to cruise the Amazon River basinView the entire itinerary and sign up here.The Amazonian region boasts the highest diversity of birds and plants anywhere in the world. The very word “Amazon” brings to mind images of... read more »

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

Recording the Araripe Manakin, With Gerrit Vyn

Near the city of Crato in northeastern Brazil lives a critically endangered little bird — the Araripe Manakin. It’s a little larger than a sparrow, it’s beautiful, and it lives on the slopes of a very small area in the Araripe Plateau. And because the Araripe Manakin wasn’t discovered until the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography, recording

Searching for the Araripe Manakin, With Gerrit Vyn

Gerrit Vyn is a sound recordist for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He recently traveled to northeastern Brazil’s Araripe Plateau in search of the Araripe Manakin, a beautiful white bird with dark wing-tips and tail-feathers — and a deep red hood. The Araripe Manakin is critically endangered, in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, photography, recording

Capuchinbirds

The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken with the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre birds in South America. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Long-Distance Migration Takes Fuel and Water

Long-distance migration can be hard on a bird’s body. For example, this Swainson’s Thrush might migrate between northern Canada and South America, twice a year. In the weeks before such a long journey and during key stopovers en route, the thrush eats like crazy to put on fat. But during the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration

Strange Thoughts, Strange Bird

Toucans, such as this Red-breasted Toucan, fascinate birders and non-birders alike. Imagine what it must have been like when European scientists laid eyes on a toucan for the first time. The bright feathers drew universal admiration. But the bill was another matter. Theories abounded about its... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology, reflection

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