migration

Swifts Roost in Chimneys

What could bring crowds of people out after sunset on a September evening to stare at  . . . a chimney? Swifts, of course! Scores of swifts form a funnel-shaped cloud above the right kind of chimney, then they begin their descent. First one, then a few more, then dozens, then hundreds swirl... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, ecology, migration

The Demise of the Passenger Pigeon

On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo. It’s hard to believe there were billions of Passenger Pigeons in the early nineteenth century.By 1900, there were none left in the wild. The last Passenger Pigeon became a symbol of how easily we can... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, ornithology, science

Nighttime Flights of Songbirds

Some cloudless night in September, when the air is clear, you may see birds flying across the yellow face of the moon! September is peak migration time for millions of songbirds heading south from North America to more tropical latitudes. Nocturnal migrants of the same species, such as orioles,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, ornithology, sound

A Vast Unseen Migration

During late summer, these Sooty Shearwaters will join a vast migration, when millions of seabirds fly over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Jaegers that nested on the Arctic tundra are flying south to tropical oceans. Arctic Terns and skuas make an epic journey to Antarctic waters. Shearwaters in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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 »

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Red Knot Flies to the Moon and Back

A trip to the moon would mean a flight of 239,000 miles, roughly the same as circling the Earth 10 times. This Red Knot, named B95 for its band number, is nicknamed "Moonbird." Why? This male sandpiper was first banded in 1995 and spotted again -- on his migration through New Jersey -- in May... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, ornithology, science

Bohemian Waxwings Wander South

In winter, when snow blankets the northern states, nearly all of the songbirds that graced the days of summer are gone. But there’s one special winter visitor that fills the absence: the Bohemian Waxwing. In autumn, waxwings wander south from the boreal forest into the northern states and along... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Long-distance Migration - A House of Cards?

Scott Weidensaul, author of Living on the Wind, says “. . . the longest, most amazing, most awe-inspiring migrations are the ones that are most delicately balanced. And if you perturb any of the supports on which it depends, the whole thing collapses like a house of cards.” Fortunately, the U.S.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration

Recording Cerulean Warblers with Charlotte Goedsche

Since 1998, Charlotte Goedsche has been studying the Cerulean Warblers that breed in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. And she has learned some fascinating things! For example, Charlotte can identify individual Cerulean Warbler males like this one, by listening to their songs. She... read more »

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American Redstart - The Tale Is in the Tail

Who knew that this American Redstart’s feathers could reveal so much information about its life? For example, the more intense the color of a male American Redstart’s feathers, the better his chances of holding a good winter territory, which means access to good nutrition. Being well fed and in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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