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California

Northern Goshawks and Fire

Among the great firs and Ponderosa pines of Stanislaus National Forest in central California, Northern Goshawk nestlings crowd a platform nest of branches and pine needles halfway up a mature fir tree. In 2013, what’s known as the Rim Fire occurred, and some of the area burned with high intensity... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

The Swallows of Capistrano

Every year, the change from winter to spring brings millions of Cliff Swallows from Argentina to North America. Since the early 1800s, swallows had returned, year after year, to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. But during a restoration project in the 1990s, the venerable mud nests were removed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Red-shouldered Hawk - One Gorgeous Bird of Prey

Sharp, insistent cries signal the presence of one of North America’s most beautiful birds of prey: the Red-shouldered Hawk. There’s no mistaking this striking hawk for any other; the front of its body glows bright chestnut, the back boldly spangled black and white, the shoulders, that same... read more »

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Yosemite in Fall - With John Muir

It’s October in Yosemite. Acorn Woodpeckers, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Mountain Chickadees like this one know it’s time to stock the larder! For us, there’s still time to enjoy a hike before the harshness of winter. As John Muir put it:  “Climb the mountains and get... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, reflection

Negotiating Water Use and Bird Habitat at Owens Lake

Water in the arid West is scarce and getting scarcer. Negotiations about maintaining wetland habitat for birds (including these Long-billed Curlews) at Owens Lake in California, a source of water for the City of Los Angeles, could provide a model for decision-making about water conservation and... read more »

Point Reyes Bird Observatory

Point Reyes Bird Observatory -- now known as Point Blue Conservation Science -- works to understand how healthy ecosystems function and to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. For example, in the Farallon Islands (pictured here courtesy of Marty Knapp), scientists recorded dramatic... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound

California Clapper Rail Study by the USGS

Book researcher, freelance writer, and photographer Ingrid Taylar was on hand in January 2009, when a US Geological Survey team from the Western Ecological Research Center arrived to band and radio-tag the remaining thousand or so California Clapper Rails in the Bay Area. Here's her story. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

San Diego Bay in Winter

Birds and people share San Diego Bay -- a deepwater port, navy ships, pleasure boats, and salt-evaporation ponds. Even so, it’s one of the best bird habitats on the West Coast. Western Sandpipers probe the mud for worms and snails. Egrets stalk the shoreline for fish. Royal Terns crisscross the... read more »

Ridgway's Rails on San Francisco Bay

Once abundant around San Francisco Bay, the Ridgway’s Rail — formerly known as the California Clapper Rail — is now endangered. In the 19th Century, unregulated hunting plundered the species. In the 20th Century, rampant development reduced salt marsh habitat by 85%. But in the 21st Century, the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Hitchcock's Movie, The Birds

In Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller, "The Birds," Bodega Bay, California, is inexplicably besieged by crazed birds. After the birds attack and kill several residents, the townspeople flee in terror. We never find out why the birds became deranged, but research may give Hitchcock's film some... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

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