Watch for Subtle Dimorphism
Dec 2, 2020

Watch for Subtle Dimorphism

Don't worry: Sexual dimorphism is G-rated. It means that males and females of a species look different. Dimorphism means "two forms." Cardinals are a great example: Adult male cardinals are bright red; females are a warm brown.

Four cool things about woodpeckers
Nov 25, 2020

Four cool things about woodpeckers

What makes a woodpecker a woodpecker? Certainly their behavior is an identifying characteristic: Most forage for insects on the trunks and branches of trees, and drill holes to get to prey or sap within; they drum with their bill; and they nest and roost in cavities they have excavated. But woodpeckers also have unique anatomical adaptations to their ecological niche.

10 Steps to Get Your Backyard Ready for Winter
Nov 18, 2020

10 Steps to Get Your Backyard Ready for Winter

When summer's last blossom is a memory, and the music of bird song has been replaced by the drone of tired autumn insects, your thoughts may turn to the long winter ahead. Now is the time to improve, enhance, and expand the attractiveness of your property for birds and other wildlife. Here are 10 easy steps to help you get ready for winter.

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Ask Birdsquatch: Head Bangers
Nov 11, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Head Bangers

Dear Birdsquatch:

I love woodpeckers and have managed to attract five woodpecker species to my backyard here in Kentucky. At my feeders they eat peanuts and suet and sunflower hearts. I know their natural food preferences are wood-boring insects, which they dig after with their chisellike bills. My question is this: How do they keep from knocking themselves out when they pound on a tree trunk repeatedly? Do they get concussions? Headaches?

—SIMONE, MUDLICK, KENTUCKY

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Leaf It Alone!
Nov 6, 2020

Leaf It Alone!

Autumn is a favorite season for many, with its kaleidoscope of colors, the arrival of wintering birds, and the crunching of leaves underfoot. We encourage you to enjoy the gifts of this season rather than spending time in your yard undertaking the traditional fall tasks of raking leaves and cleaning up garden and flowerbeds—the birds (and your back) will thank you!
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Autumn Gardening Tips for Your Yard Birds
Nov 4, 2020

Autumn Gardening Tips for Your Yard Birds

Whether you'd like to admit it or not, autumn is here. Spring cleaning gets lots of attention, but for the backyard bird watcher, there's just as much to do in fall as in spring. Check out four tips to help your backyard birds in fall.
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Song Sparrow: Nearly Ubiquitous and Universally Delightful
Oct 28, 2020

Song Sparrow: Nearly Ubiquitous and Universally Delightful

Except for northern Canada and inland Alaska, song sparrows can be found throughout North America during some part of the year, and they are common denizens of backyards—especially under bird feeders. In the Northeast and most of the West, song sparrow is a year-round resident, but across southern Canada and the north-central states, the species is a summer breeder that heads south for the colder months.
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Ask Birdsquatch: Angry Birds!
Oct 21, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Angry Birds!

Dear Birdsquatch:

My girlfriend lives in a apartment complex next to a river where there are lots of ducks. The management of the complex left the following note on the exit doors of the complex:

"ANGRY BIRDS!! The angry birds are back!! Please be careful!! These birds are protected, so we cannot injure them. They like to come at your head."

Is this an Alfred Hitchcock movie come to life? What kind of birds are these and why would they attack?

—Nervous Boyfriend (Dennis B.) Waukesha, Wisconsin

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Nuthatch Essentials: What to Know
Oct 14, 2020

Nuthatch Essentials: What to Know

Nuthatches are some of the most adorable birds in North America! Want the lowdown on these birds—including what species to expect in your area, and how to attract them to your yard? We have the facts!
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Move That Water!
Oct 7, 2020

Move That Water!

You've heard it before—moving water attracts birds! It's especially true during fall migration. Birdbaths can attract species that have no interest in the food stuffs humans offer.
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Keep Your Hummingbird Feeders Up
Sep 30, 2020

Keep Your Hummingbird Feeders Up

You've probably heard the myth: Take down your hummingbird feeders in the fall or the hummers will "forget" to migrate. It's not true. Birds, including the hummingbirds at our feeders, are programmed by instinct to migrate when their inner clocks tell them to leave.
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Look Beyond the Feeders for the Best Backyard Bird Watching
Sep 23, 2020

Look Beyond the Feeders for the Best Backyard Bird Watching

Wondering what to expect as summer transitions to fall? Activity at your feeders will pick up as natural food sources wane and autumn progresses. And if you find that rewarding, try looking beyond your bird feeders and into the shrubs and foliage in your yard. Look at the sky above your yard, and listen for sounds you haven't heard before.
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Hummingbirds and Torpor
Sep 16, 2020

Hummingbirds and Torpor

Hummingbirds have evolved a unique ability to go into a trancelike state called torpor to help them survive cool temperatures and periods of inactivity, especially while sleeping at night. The birds are unresponsive and appear to be dead when in this state.
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Attract More Birds with Moving Water
Sep 9, 2020

Attract More Birds with Moving Water

Looking for great ways to attract more birds to your yard? Try adding a birdbath with moving water.
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Will Birds Starve If You Stop Feeding Them?
Sep 2, 2020

Will Birds Starve If You Stop Feeding Them?

This is a question we hear a lot at Watching Backyard Birds. Birders planning an extended vacation often worry about the birds that frequent their feeders. Where will they find food? If they leave, will they ever come back?
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8 Common Bird-feeding Myths Debunked
Aug 28, 2020

8 Common Bird-feeding Myths Debunked

Have you ever noticed how much of what we consider "conventional wisdom" is actually wrong and ridiculous? Bird-feeding conventional wisdom is riddled with bad information. But you, my friend, are in luck! I have tried most everything in bird feeding at least once, and I have made nearly every mistake possible. Why? So you won't have to!
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Watch the Moon for Southbound Migrants
Aug 26, 2020

Watch the Moon for Southbound Migrants

In 2020, full moons will occur September 2, October 1, October 31, and November 30. If the night sky is cloudless, aim your binoculars toward the moon, and watch. Most migratory land birds make their twice-yearly journey at night, including thrushes, warblers, flycatchers, sparrows, orioles, vireos, and cuckoos.
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Is It a Crime to Kill a Hummingbird?
Aug 19, 2020

Is It a Crime to Kill a Hummingbird?

Dear Birdsquatch: Is hummingbirdicide a crime? I adore eight of my hummingbirds, but Number 9, a male, is making life difficult for all the others. I want to kill him. Not really, but he must be stopped! Can I trap him and relocate him? Any advice?

—Fern B.,
Rolla, Missouri

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A Bee-resistant Hummingbird Feeder?
Aug 12, 2020

A Bee-resistant Hummingbird Feeder?

It's a question we get every summer here at Watching Backyard Birds and Bird Watcher's Digest: How can I keep the bees off of my nectar feeder? WBB editor Dawn Hewitt conducts a pseudo-scientific experiment to see which of her hummingbird feeders attracts the fewest bees.
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Birdbath Cleaning
Aug 5, 2020

Birdbath Cleaning

Keep your birdbath clean. It's a simple adage, oft repeated, but there are reasons to be scrupulous that go beyond hygiene and aesthetics. Of course, the birds' health comes first. If we're going to provide water, we owe it to them to give the bath a good scrubbing when droppings and algae foul the water. Bird droppings contain nitrogen, which is algae fuel, so the quicker we get rid of them, the cleaner our bath will stay.
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