The Golden-tailed Sapphire‘s shining feathers, long bill, and tiny feet make it easy to recognize as a hummingbird. But what really makes a hummingbird a hummingbird? [Read more…] about What Makes a Hummingbird a Hummingbird?
Birds use a wonderful variety of materials and techniques to create their nests. Some nests are small and tidy, like grass baskets lined with cozy feathers. Others are large and messily blobbed with mud.
Some species build their nests in trees, some on the ground, and others woven into wetland plants or adhered to cliff faces – or your back porch wall.
I’ve spotted and admired many birds’ nests, but never one made by a ruby-throated hummingbird or a blue-gray gnatcatcher. This is likely because both species shingle their nests with lichens, making them exceptionally well camouflaged. [Read more…] about Lichens and Birds’ Nests
Scientists from multiple universities now find there’s more than one level of torpor: shallow and deep, plus the transition stage between levels of torpor and the normal sleep state. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. [Read more…] about Hummingbirds Exert Fine Control Over Body Temperature
New research on the glittering White-necked Jacobin hummingbird reveals nearly 20% of the species’ adult females have male-like plumage.
This strategy is all about dodging bullies and getting better access to food. The findings were published recently in the journal Current Biology. [Read more…] about Some Female Hummingbirds Look Like Males to Evade Harassment
With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies. [Read more…] about Honey Bee Keepers, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Contrary to conventional thought, songbirds can taste sugar — even though songbirds are the descendants of meat-eating dinosaurs and are missing a key protein that allows humans and many other animals to taste sweetness.
An international team investigated how many bird species can taste sweet and how far back that ability evolved. Their work was published in the journal Science. [Read more…] about Study Shows Songbirds Share Our Taste for Sweets
When the hummingbird returns in the spring, this petite creature tends to seek out the same general region that served as its home the previous summer. Older adults are known to claim the same surroundings which they used the past year as their breeding territory. [Read more…] about Feeding Hummingbirds
Irises, with their large, exotic-looking flowers waving atop tall stems, are among the showiest early summer blooms. Most of North America’s nearly 30 native iris species are found in the southeastern states and on the Pacific coast; but a few irises grow in the northern woodlands. The most common are the native blue iris or blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) and the invasive yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus). [Read more…] about A Tale of Two Irises
The study’s authors say it’s the first of its kind to cover the Western Hemisphere during the year-long life cycle of North American migratory birds that feed on vegetation, seeds, nectar, insects, or meat. The findings were published in the Journal of Animal Ecology. [Read more…] about Study: Most Migratory Birds Rely On a Greening World
This is such a disorienting time, when all our lives have been turned upside down and shaken. One of the ways my own family is coping is by spending time outside every day.
We stage nature treasure hunts in the woods behind our house. [Read more…] about A Treasure Hunt for Early Spring