The mysterious sounds of the American Woodcock

Download a free one-page guide to American Woodcock display The flight display of the male American Woodcock has to be one of the most remarkable avian performances in the world. And yet, despite the fact that countless ornithologists and birders have marveled at this spring spectacle, some very basic questions are still unanswered, including this …

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A quiz on dabbling ducks

duck identification quiz4

Below are six ducks in a typical foraging posture, with their heads underwater. See if you can identify the species by their back ends. (All paintings by David Sibley)

Comparing the songs of Willet subspecies

The Eastern and Western subspecies of Willet are often mentioned as likely candidates for splitting into two species. They differ in size, proportions, details of plumage, migration pattern, and have no overlap in breeding range and very little in winter range. There is a lot of good information in print about how to identify them …

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Cackling-ish Geese

Cackling Goose is a rare fall migrant through Massachusetts and I usually see a couple of them each fall among the hundreds of Canada Geese around Concord. I look forward to the challenge of sorting through the flocks and picking these birds out, and once a candidate is located the identification has usually been straightforward – …

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Peter Pyle on Sage Sparrows

The most significant change for North American birders in the 2013 AOU Checklist supplement is the split of Sage Sparrow into two species: Sagebrush Sparrow and Bell’s Sparrow. In this arrangement Bell’s Sparrow includes the distinctively dark coastal California subspecies belli, as well as the much less distinctive interior California subspecies canescens. Sagebrush Sparrow is …

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