Land Birds

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

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

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

A great tit sitting on a post in Suffolk, England, calls out.

Do Birds Have Language?

In the cheeps, trills and tweets of birdsong, scientists find some parallels with human speech

Linda is observant, social, and aware of new sights and sounds.

Meet Linda the Ostrich, the National Zoo's Newest Animal Ambassador

The large feathery friend is four years old and arrived at the Zoo in November 2021

What a male song sparrow sings in each moment is dependent on what he sang 30 minutes ago and suggests that the birds don't have a 'bird brain,' but incredible memory and recall capacities.
 

To Impress Lady Birds, Male Sparrows Sing Their Songs on Shuffle

The singers will memorize a 30-minute playlist and remix the order later to avoid losing their lover's attention

As bald eagle populations shoot up, disputes between the birds of prey do, too, especially near nesting territory.

 

Watch Bald Eagles Tussle in the Middle of a Minnesota Street

The raptors may have gotten entangled during a territorial fight or courtship dance

New Zealand's long-tailed bats are about the size of a human thumb and weigh less than a tablespoon of sugar.

New Zealand's Bird of the Year Is... a Bat

The winged mammal is critically endangered and won the award to raise awareness about their existence and importance to the island ecosystem

The California condor's population stooped dangerously low to 22 individuals in the 1980s, and scientists have been running a captive breeding program since then to save these birds.

California Condors Surprise Scientists With Two 'Virgin Births'

Genetic data revealed that two females laid fatherless eggs

Early humans may have eaten late-stage fertilized eggs, known as balut, or raised the chicks for feathers and meat.

 

 

Thousands of Years Before Humans Raised Chickens, They Tried to Domesticate the World's Deadliest Bird

Fossilized eggs found in rock shelters suggest cassowaries were cohabitating with our ancestors

Though the fossil shared a resemblance to others found in the region, it had much longer legs. The team decided to name the new species Kairuku waewaeroa, which means “long-legged” in the Maori language.

New Zealand Kids Discovered This Fossil of New Giant Penguin Species on a Field Trip

Paleontologists say the bird would have been roughly the size of a ten-year-old child

After his recovery, researchers noticed Bruce was using small pebbles to rid his plumage of mites and dirt—a practice that has never been observed before.

Bruce the Parrot Uses Tools to Survive Despite a Broken Beak

Missing his upper beak, an alpine parrot in New Zealand uses small pebbles for preening

When comparing the genomes, the team found that the birds of Stewart Island had less genetic diversity than the mainland birds and had half as many mutations as the birds that dwelled on the mainland.

Thousands of Years of Inbreeding May Have Saved This Flightless Parrot From Extinction

The Kākāpō had fewer mutations in its genome despite a small genetic pool and long history of isolation due to a previous near-extinction event

Musk ducks join an elite group of non-human animals that can mimic speech.

Listen to Ripper the Duck Say 'You Bloody Fool!'

New research highlights the rare trait of vocal learning among animals with examples of musk ducks imitating human speech and other noises

Scientists suspect that the vultures have expanded into Indiana in the past few decades because of climate change and changes in land use.

Federally Protected Black Vultures May Be 'Eating Cows Alive' in the Midwest

Farmers are seeking permits to cull any raptors harming their livestock, but experts say reports of vicious attacks are exaggerated

Male acorn woodpeckers, like the one on the left, have more offspring over their lives when they’re polygamous, according to new research.

Smithsonian Voices

Polygamy Helps Male Acorn Woodpeckers Thrive

The findings of a new study could help scientists learn more about how social behaviors evolved in other animals

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