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ornithology

Chandler Robbins, In Memoriam

Chandler Robbins, July 17, 1918 – March 20, 2017A Long Life, Well LivedA tribute by Rick WrightIn December 1956, on the remote south Pacific atoll of Midway, a US Geological Survey ornithologist banded a female Laysan Albatross.Wisdom, as she has come to be known, is still alive more than six... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology, recording

Hanging-Parrots

There are a dozen species of hanging-parrots — also known as bat parrots — in the tropical forests of southern Asia and Indonesia. Clad in bright greens, blues, and reds, they sleep —and sometimes bathe — upside down. No other birds sleep like this. This bizarre behavior probably protects hanging... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Waxwing Nightlight

The warm colors and bright accents of the Bohemian Waxwing might make you think it glows in the dark. For the better part of two thousand years, that’s what people believed. Pliny reported that their feathers “shine like flames” in the dark forests of central Europe. The Germans allegedly used... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, human interaction, humor, ornithology

Screech-Owls Go Fishing

Screech-owls are opportunistic diners. In the Pacific Northwest, they’ll prey on small birds, crayfish, large ants, or earthworms. In Arizona, pocket mice and pack rats. And in Ohio, biologists who noticed a fishy smell around Eastern Screech-Owl nest boxes found the remains of dozens of shad. It... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, ornithology

The Living Bird - New Book from Cornell, by Gerrit Vyn & Others

A beautiful hardcover book from Cornell, The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature, celebrates the joyful and complex relationship between birds and people. The Living Bird features photos by award-winning photographer and BirdNote board member, Gerrit Vyn. The images are woven together... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, photography

The Descent of Birdlore

How did Theodore Roosevelt develop his interest in birds? The chain of events may surprise you. As a budding birdwatcher, Roosevelt was influenced by John Bell, a New York City taxidermist. It turns out that Bell started watching birds 50 years earlier on a trip up the Missouri River with John... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology, reflection

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

Jays Identify Good Nuts by Shaking Them

Some birds stash unopened seeds for use later. But how do they know which seeds are worth the trouble, before expending the energy to open them? A team of scientists from South Korea and Poland may have an answer. As part of a series of experiments, the scientists observed the behavior of Mexican... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

A Childhood Love of Birds

Gordon Orians, a writer and science advisor for BirdNote, reflects on how he developed an appreciation of birds and science during his youth. “I think I always had some sort of attraction to birds, and then I started going out bird watching with my dad,” he says. By the time Gordon was in high... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, reflection, science

Where Birdsong Began

Scientists once believed that Australia’s songbirds — such as this Superb Lyrebird — were the result of lost birds from Asia and Africa colonizing the continent. But recent research has changed that thinking. It turns out that the Australian continent was the evolutionary epicenter of much of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

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