• Araripe Manakin, Ciro Albano

    Extinction

    A casual observer might not notice, but take a closer look. Across the Americas, fewer birds inhabit our landscapes. Some familiar birds, like the Wood Thrush, are 50 percent less common than they were 50 years ago. This thrush is just… Read More »

  • Inca Tern

    This striking bird occupies part of the same habitat ruled by the ancient Inca Empire in South America. Inca Terns are best known by their dashing white mustaches, which are found on both male and female birds. The species is… Read More »

  • Spotted Towhee

    Ornithologist Edward Forbush commented in 1929: "[The Towhee] is a ground bird — an inhabitant of bushy land. No other sparrow seems to be so wedded to life in thicket and tangle…." Like other sparrows such as the Saltmarsh and… Read More »

  • Migrating Birds Arriving Early

    Blue-grey Gnatcatcher by Owen Deutsch (Washington, D.C., March 26, 2012) The warmer weather that much of the nation has been enjoying has brought out the springtime clothes a bit ahead of schedule and has also triggered the earlier-than-normal arrival of… Read More »

  • American Wild Birds in Trouble; New Book Provides Hope for Future

    For Immediate Release Contact: 202-234-7181 ext.210 The American Bird Conservation Guide to Bird Conservation is now on sale through all major retailers. (Washington, D.C., November 4, 2010). As populations of many American bird species continue to decline, hope stems from… Read More »

  • Dark-eyed Junco

    “There is not an individual in the Union who does not know the little Snow-bird,” declared John James Audubon, writing about the Dark-eyed Junco almost 200 years ago. Many people in the United States today still think of this familiar… Read More »

  • Seven of the Coolest Sparrows in the United States

    In North America, it’s easy to enjoy sparrows. You can find them in almost any habitat. They can occur in large (although decreasing) numbers, sing beautifully (for the most part), and reliably cheer up backyard feeders. What’s not so easy… Read More »

  • Birds of Virginia: Waterbirds

    Waterbirds are among Virginia’s superlative birds, including some of the largest (pelicans and swans), most colorful (ducks), most ornamentally plumed (egrets and herons), and most exciting to watch (skimmers skimming, terns diving, ibises flapping over marshes at sunrise or sunset).… Read More »

  • Cat with Hooded Warbler, forestpath/Shutterstock

    Birds at Risk

    More than one-third of the Americas’ 340 migratory species are birds at risk, suffering measurable declines in population. What’s behind these losses? There is consensus, if inadequate data, that habitat loss is the greatest threat to birds. Habitat loss is accelerating in… Read More »

  • Amid Powerful Storms, Bahama Oriole Clings to Existence

    Editor’s note: As Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean this week, leaving a path of devastation across several islands, biologist Kevin Omland had his eyes on the Bahamas. The critically endangered Bahama Oriole, the focus of Omland’s research, survives only… Read More »

  • Swamp Sparrow

    The Swamp Sparrow, like the Song Sparrow, is often dismissed as a "little brown job." But a closer look reveals a bird richly colored in earthy tones of russet, brown, and cool gray, set off by a white throat and… Read More »

  • Ocellated Turkey

    The Ocellated Turkey is the gaudier tropical cousin of the world’s only other turkey species, our familiar Thanksgiving bird. Watching a strutting male display is like seeing a Wild Turkey through a colorized filter: The baby-blue head is dotted with… Read More »

  • Do American Robins Migrate?

    Springtime singer or snowy sentinel? The American Robin may be one of North America's most familiar songbirds, yet its wintering patterns raise a common question: Do robins migrate? The answer is yes and no. We associate robins with spring for… Read More »

  • Fading Symbols: These Five State Birds Are in Trouble

    U.S. grasslands that once resounded with the boisterous song of the Western Meadowlark are growing silent as numbers of the famed singer decline. This situation, distressing as it is, isn’t unique: A number of state birds have experienced major population… Read More »

  • Townsend's Shearwater

    This eye-catching black-and-white seabird is closely related to Newell's Shearwater of Hawai'i, from which it was split in 2015. These lookalike species "shear" or closely skim the ocean surface as they fly, a flight style shared by the Pink-footed Shearwater… Read More »

  • Birds of Virginia: Backyard Birds

    Most birders in Virginia start watching birds around their homes. The following species can be seen almost anywhere in the state, often in cities and towns. While some of the bird species included here are among the most common birds… Read More »

  • Purple Finch

    Described by American ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson as "a finch dipped in raspberry juice," the male Purple Finch is a treat for any birder to see. Its genus name, Haemorhous, is slightly less appetizing, as “haemo” is Greek for blood,… Read More »

  • Song Sparrow

    At first glance, the Song Sparrow is a typical "little brown job," a term sometimes bestowed by frustrated birders on species in the large, often look-alike sparrow family. But a closer look at this familiar bird reveals a species as… Read More »

  • Newell's Shearwater. Photo by Resource Hawaii, Alamy Stock Photo.

    Newell's Shearwater (ʻAʻo)

    The low, moaning call of the Newell’s Shearwater gives this small black-and-white seabird its onomatopoeic Hawaiian name ʻAʻo. First described by ornithologist Henry Henshaw in 1900, the elusive bird was declared extinct in less than ten years, then was rediscovered… Read More »

  • Cedar Waxwing

    A lucky observer may sometimes spot a group of sleek-looking Cedar Waxwings perched on a tree branch in a long row, politely passing a berry from beak to beak, up and down the line. This charming sight reflects the bird's… Read More »