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migration

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

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

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

Ancient Murrelet Migration

We're used to birds migrating north to south and south to north. But the Ancient Murrelet migrates east to west and back across the North Pacific. These plump seabirds nest in colonies in old-growth forests. But where do they go in winter? After breeding, many Ancient Murrelets migrate westward.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Mississippi Kites

The Mississippi Kite is one of America's most elegant raptors. These dove-gray birds spend the summer hunting over plains and woodlands in the southern United States. They often nest colonially — unusual for hawks — with a half-dozen pairs in sight of one another in a grove of tall trees. By... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Alpine Swifts Fly Nonstop

How long can a bird fly without touching the earth? To find out, Swiss scientists attached sensors to Alpine Swifts. The sensors showed long periods when the swifts were gliding and not flapping their wings. Were the birds asleep? Scientists don’t know for sure. It could be that Alpine Swifts... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight, migration

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

Partial Migration — Killdeer Play Leap Frog

The cries of a Killdeer are familiar across most of the US during spring and summer. But where do they go in winter? Killdeer that breed in the southern half of the US and along the Pacific Coast are year-round residents. But those that breed in the northern US and Canada, where winter conditions... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Late Fall Sounds to Listen For

By the time November rolls around, the bird songs of summer can seem a distant memory.But there’s always something to listen for. Small birds like chickadees and kinglets, including the Golden-crowned Kinglet pictured here, often mix in flocks while foraging. Geese can be heard overhead in the... read more »

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Red Knot Migration

Thanks to radio transmitters, scientists have vastly increased their knowledge of Red Knot migration patterns. For example, the vast majority of Red Knots on the Pacific Coast rely on a small number of places to rest and feed during spring migration from Mexico to the Arctic. Those locations... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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