The Bad Habits of Cowbirds

September 29, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Cowbirds have an unusual life strategy: they lay their eggs in other birds species‘ nests. North America’s Brown-headed Cowbird first evolved this strategy in order to follow herds of buffalo. The cowbirds fed on insects flushed up by the buffalo’s feet. As the buffalo migrated around the Great Plains, the cowbirds followed- even during the birds’ breeding season. If the cowbirds took care of nests, they couldn’t follow the buffalo. So they left their eggs behind in other songbirds’ nests.

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Bird Banding

September 24, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Bird banding (also called bird ringing) is an important tool for bird research and studies. Scientists put numbered metal bands around a bird’s leg, and keep track of where the birds are recaptured.

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The World of Antbirds

September 21, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Flip through a field guide for the South American tropics, and you may be dazzled by the numbers of Antbirds listed. Over 240 species of antbirds live in Central and South America, including the ant-wrens, ant-vireos, and ant-thrushes. These small bird species are dull-colored, in blacks, browns and tans that hide them on the shady rainforest floors. Some species have eyes that are brightly-colored or surrounded with patches of colorful bare skin.

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Bird Watching: What’s with the Camouflage

September 18, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

There are hard-core birders that feel they need to dress up like a supporting player in a Rambo movie in order to get deep in to the bird’s environment. As a result, you see quite a few bird enthusiasts dressed up in camouflage pants and shirts, their faces smeared with green grease paint. It’s no wonder they aren’t scaring away the very birds they are hoping to see in the first place.

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How do birds drink?

September 8, 2006 by  
Filed under Features

Birds need water to survive. This includes ocean birds that are flying far out over the ocean, like gulls, petrels, and albatross. They may be far from shore for months or even years at a time, never seeing lakes or other sources of fresh water. How do they survive?

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