Birds

About two to three million birds of prey fly through Panama each fall, in what amounts to the world’s third-largest raptor migration.

Panama

Watch Millions of Raptors Fly Across Panama This Fall

The country’s unique shape makes it a perfect migratory pathway for the birds of prey

A Haast's eagle hunts moa.

How a Giant Eagle Once Came to Dominate New Zealand

Before the formidable bird went extinct, scientists say it likely hunted the flightless moa

Migrating waterbirds over South Dakota’s Huron Wetland Management District on North America’s Central Flyway.

Scientists Are Using These High-Tech Tools to Study Bird Migration

Tracking the journeys of different species is key to protecting them from habitat loss and other threats

Birds that wander out of their home ranges can be an unexpected source of revenue. Stella, a Steller’s sea eagle, recently turned up in Maine and Massachusetts, drawing tourists who spent nearly US $500,000.

Birds Wandering Far From Home Can Be a Boon for Local Tourism

When an internet-famous Steller’s sea eagle turned up roughly 11,000 kilometers off course in late 2021, birders flocked to catch a glimpse

Spotless starling chicks use a bright yellow oil to enhance the color of their mouth, which scientists verified by rubbing a cotton swab over the area.

The Done-Up Bird Gets the Worm

Starling chicks apply their preening oil as a lipstick to get more food from their parents

A sulphur-crested cockatoo bows down at the Madrid Zoo Aquarium. The birds have been seen dancing to music and opening trash bins to get to food.

What Can Dancing Cockatoos Teach Us About Ourselves?

An evolutionary biologist demystifies bird intelligence in an excerpt from her new book

Ornithologist Edmund Selous made empathy for birds respectable and, in doing so, changed the world. Bird-watching became a popular pastime, eventually making birding scientific and playing a pivotal role in the animals’ conservation.

How Bird Collecting Evolved Into Bird-Watching

In the early 1900s, newfound empathy for avian creatures helped wildlife observation displace dispassionate killing

A California condor flies through Marble Gorge, east of Grand Canyon National Park in 2007

Good News

Four Critically Endangered Condors Released in Northern California

The Yurok Tribe has released one juvenile female and three males, the first birds to live in the region in more than 100 years

A woodpecker prepares to smash its beak against a tree. 

Woodpeckers Don’t Have Shock-Absorbing Skulls

The birds’ small brain size protects them from getting concussions, a new study finds

Manx shearwaters breed on islands in the North Atlantic where they make nests in underground burrows.

This Seabird Species Dives Deeper When the Water is Clearer

Scientists suggest that cloudier waters, caused in part by climate change, could make it harder for Manx shearwaters to catch fish

Seals in Bar Harbor, Maine

Seal Strandings in Maine Linked to Bird Flu

Four stranded pinnipeds tested positive for the avian influenza H5N1

Thousands of Northern Gannets gather nest material as they prepare for the new breeding season on the Bass Rock.

Avian Flu Hits U.K.’s Seabird Colonies

Thousands of wild birds have died

None

A Surprisingly High Number of Wildfires Are Caused by Electrocuted Birds

Researchers determined 44 wildland fires were ignited by avian electrocutions in the contiguous United States from January 2014 through December 2018

Jackdaws have distinctive calls that sound like “tchaw, tchaw” or “tchack, tchack.”

Jackdaws Vote to Decide When to Take Flight

The birds use vocalizations to signal when they want to leave the roost

On May 26, and endangered baby crane hatched at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Good News

Endangered Whooping Crane Hatches at Smithsonian National Zoo Site

An abandoned egg from a wild nest in Wisconsin was given to surrogate parents in Virginia

Exotic animals including parrots and monkeys served as pets and entertainment in California in the 1850s.

The Monkeys and Parrots Caught Up in the California Gold Rush

Researchers combed through 19th-century records and found evidence of the species, which joined a menagerie that included Galapagos tortoises and kangaroos

Researchers wanted to study how Anna's hummingbirds adapted to higher elevation. (Pictured: male Anna's hummingbird)

Scientists Moved Hummingbirds to High Elevations to See How Climate Change Might Affect Them

Artificial migrations to colder environments altered the small bird's metabolism and ability to fly

A female saltmarsh sparrow in a New Hampshire wetland is held by University of New Hampshire graduatet student Talia Kuras. The circular device reads the transponder-containing indentification tag on the bird's leg. 

Planet Positive

Saving the Imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow

Conservationists are racing to rescue a delightful coastal animal from rising seas

Lovebirds only have two legs, but they use their beaks as a propulsive third limb when climbing.

Lovebirds Use Their Beaks as a Third Limb While Climbing

Researchers find that their chops are as powerful as a rock climber's arms

Archaeologist Carol Anne Barsody scans the mummified ibis to create a 3-D model of it for an upcoming exhibition.

Mislabeled for a Century, Mysterious Mummy Reclassified as Sacred Ibis

Previously identified as a hawk, the bird was one of millions killed as offerings to the ancient Egyptian god Thoth

loading icon