Tag: Birds

These State Birds May Be Forced Out of Their States as the World Warms

Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter. WASHINGTON — Each state in America has an official state bird, usually an iconic species that helps define the landscape. Minnesota chose the common loon, whose haunting wails echo across the state’s northern lakes each summer. Georgia picked the brown […]

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Three Billion Canaries in the Coal Mine

NASHVILLE — During the nearly quarter-century that my family has lived in this house, the changes in our neighborhood have become increasingly apparent: fewer trees and wildflowers, fewer bees and butterflies and grasshoppers, fewer tree frogs and songbirds. The vast majority of Tennessee is still rural, and for years I told myself that such changes […]

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Sydney Is for the Birds. The Bigger and Bolder, the Better.

SYDNEY — The bushy pair of laughing kookaburras that used to show up outside my daughter’s bedroom window disappeared a few months ago. The birds simply vanished — after rudely waking us every morning with their maniacal “koo-koo-kah-KAH-KAH” call, after my kids named them Ferrari and Lamborghini, after we learned that kookaburras mate for life. […]

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The Crisis for Birds Is a Crisis for Us All

Nearly one-third of the wild birds in the United States and Canada have vanished since 1970, a staggering loss that suggests the very fabric of North America’s ecosystem is unraveling. The disappearance of 2.9 billion birds over the past nearly 50 years was reported today in the journal Science, a result of a comprehensive study […]

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Birds Are Vanishing From North America

The skies are emptying out. The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago. The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt […]

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Hurricanes May Kill Some Birds, but Humans Are the Real Threat

In a catastrophic hurricane like Dorian, the loss of lives and homes can be overwhelming. But even in the midst of devastating sadness and disbelief, a far less urgent but perennial question can tug at the back of the mind. What is the impact of these storms on wild creatures, like birds? It is too […]

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For Poison Dart Frogs, Markings Matter When It Comes to Survival

The fanciful colored markings of poison dart frogs are a warning to predators: If you eat me, you’ll regret it. These tiny, colorful creatures secrete bitter toxins in their skin, and birds have come to associate their distinctive markings with danger. The frogs’ chemical defenses can cause swelling, paralysis and sometimes even death. Their markings […]

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The 9/11 Tribute Lights Are Endangering 160,000 Birds a Year

Every year on Sept. 11, two soaring beams of light turn on over Lower Manhattan in a glowing tribute to those killed 18 years ago. Observers looking closely can spot dots and shapes gathering inside the towers of light, moving, multiplying, wheeling lower and lower. These dots are actually birds, who are drawn to the […]

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Squirrels Relax When They Hear Birds Relaxing

It will come as no surprise to squirrel lovers — and haters, for that matter — that the twitchy, resourceful rodents are exquisitely attuned to the world around them. Researchers at Oberlin College reported Wednesday in the scientific journal PLoS One that squirrels pay attention not only to alarm calls, as many animals do, but […]

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The Transformative, Talismanic Power of Feathers

ICARUS WAS NOT the first to wear feathers, but he was perhaps the most hexed by their promise of transformation. According to Greek myth, his father, the architect and inventor Daedalus, desperate for them to escape the wrath of King Minos, built wings out of twine, wax and plumes shed by passing birds — an […]

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A Rare Greenshank Is Spotted in Russia

One of the few things known about the Nordmann’s greenshank is that it is one of the most endangered shorebirds on earth. No one had studied the bird in depth since 1976, and its nesting habitat remained a mystery. But this summer, an American graduate student and Russian ornithologists spotted a pair of Nordmann’s greenshanks […]

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Hanging Out With Humans Makes This Bird Bad at Its Job

Humans can be a terrible influence on birds. Crows that live near us end up with high cholesterol, sparrows screech to be heard over oil pumps, and instead of migrating, some storks now just eat trash. At times, our habits and behaviors are contagious enough to change whole ecosystems. According to a study published in […]

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In Defense of Sea Gulls: They’re Smart, and They Co-Parent, 50/50 All the Way

Here are three good things about gulls: They are devoted parents. Males share child care equally with females. That includes sitting on the eggs during incubation. And they have figured out a way — actually many ways — to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world. Some eat clams, some eat fish, some are attracted […]

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Some Migratory Birds Sleep Better Than Others

Every spring, throngs of garden warblers make a treacherous, multiweek journey from their winter homes in Africa to their summer breeding grounds in Europe. The small, brown-and-white songbirds fly thousands of miles, across the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea, en route to their destinations. It’s an exhausting, arduous trip, and the warblers make numerous pit […]

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The New Threat to Endangered Species? The Trump Administration

Endangered species come on lists. But lists obscure relationships. What can it mean that a few mussels, some snails we’ve never heard of, obscure crayfish in marginal headwaters and some island-confined songbirds are vanishing? Some 1,650 species of animals and plants in the United States are listed under federal law as endangered or threatened. But […]

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