Birds of Latin America

Penguin meets man

In the spring of 2011, a Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) was rescued on a beach on Ilha Grande, Brazil, by a retired bricklayer named João Pereira de Souza. The young penguin was covered in oil and could hardly move, so Mr. Joao cleaned and fed the bird for many days, until he thought it could swim. However, after being released,…

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Birds of North America

Young Hawk

While walking along a path at the Sharon Audubon Center in the U.S. state of Connecticut, I catch some movement in a distant tree. A young red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), perhaps a recent fledgling, is hanging upside down on a branch, like a bat! Its wings are open and languidly flapping; its head is moving slowly from right to left.…

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Birds of Latin America

This bird is…so…small

The Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), unique to Cuba, is the world’s smallest bird. We read that it is barely more than two inches long, and lighter than a penny. But when I first saw this tiny dynamo, its diminutive size was truly astonishing. While in Cuba on a formal educational visit, I glimpsed its silhouette first, in a tangle of…

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Birds found globally

The Mystery of Rails

When I tell people about my interest in birds, I’m often asked which is my favorite. I invariably reply “I haven’t got one; there are just too many…” which, while generally true, disguises the fact that I do have favorites. Take, for example, Rails (family: Rallidae). These are hen-like denizens of wetlands, seldom seen due to their secretive natures and…

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Birds of Australia

More than a little night music

Australia’s Gulf Developmental Road guarantees just a single lane of bitumen. Drivers in this part of far-north Queensland must keep constant watch for oncoming traffic and wandering stock, and be prepared to urgently pull off onto gravel-and-red-dust shoulders. Acres of termite ‘tombstones’ line much of this 442-kilometre road. I head west for hours, until a long bridge crosses the dry…

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Birds of North America

Frozen Heron?

The snow crunches underfoot as I prowl through East Rock Park on a cold January morning. The city of New Haven (in the U.S. state of Connecticut) has several forested urban parks, and this is my favorite. Birds love it too. Even in the dead of winter, I’m sure to have interesting birding. As I approach a half-frozen pond…there, among…

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