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Spring

Capturing a Special Moment: Mating American Avocets

The American Avocet is a beautiful shorebird that's found in ephemeral wetlands of the United States, mainly west of the Mississippi, south through Central America. (Ephemeral wetlands are seasonal ponds that are wet only seasonally or only in wet years.)The elegantly curved bill — inspiration... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  photography

Spring Migration Across the Globe

Each spring, millions of birds head north. From Ecuador, beautiful Scarlet Tanagers fly to the eastern US and Canada, many traversing the Gulf of Mexico, an arduous journey. Across much of southern Europe, Common Nightingales – small thrushes with russet feathers – are arriving, having traveled... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Turkey Vultures on the Move

Before we see or feel spring, we often hear it first — in the testimony of a Red-winged Blackbird, the energy of a Song Sparrow, or the serenade of an American Robin. But across much of North America, an earlier sign of spring is the return of Turkey Vultures. In the US, you may see them as early... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Woodpeckers - Some of Nature's Finest Drummers

Yikes! What's that bird doing, pounding on my house? In early spring, a male flicker may drum on a metal stovepipe or other resonant surface – a pole, a sign, the trunk of a tree – attempting to attract a mate and proclaim his territory. Many other woodpeckers do the same. Let's look at a few...A... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

North with the Spring - Migration

American naturalist Bruce Beehler — inspired by Edwin Way Teale's similar journey in 1947 — is following the spring songbird migration to build greater appreciation for birds. In partnership with American Bird Conservancy, Beehler is traveling from the Gulf of Mexico to the boreal forest of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, migration

Spring Bursts Forth

People often say that spring “bursts” forth. But this seasonal change isn’t like flipping a switch. It’s more like a series of waves breaking slowly. Robins and bluebirds return north in March. During April, more songbirds migrate north from the tropics, adding to spring’s growing chorus. As late... read more »

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Common Eiders Favor Close Relatives

Some species of birds try to save energy by tricking others into incubating their eggs. But if the parasitic female is a related species, she may have an advantage. After studying the nests of Common Eiders, such as the one pictured here, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Robins Raise a Brood - In a Hurry

When it comes to raising a family, American Robins have got it down. Approximately eight days after the male and female mate, the female builds the nest.  A few days later, she lays eggs. She sits on the eggs for 18 hours a day, and the eggs hatch in about three weeks. Both parents feed the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons

In higher animals, the brain is like a BMW — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted in a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

The Secret Stash of Eggshells

Developing eggshells requires a key ingredient — calcium — in larger quantities than the female typically has in her bloodstream. Just how different bird species supply or store calcium for egg-laying isn’t fully known. While some species seek out extra calcium from their... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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