Ask the Expert

There used to be a website called Ask the Experts on which you could submit a question, for free, on a large variety of subjects and get an answer from experts, or at least knowledgeable people, in the field. I answered  about 2400 inquiries to date before the site disappeared. The vast majority of questions were straightforward and fall into a few categories:

  1. Identification – a bird in the backyard, one they saw while on vacation, on TV, in the zoo, etc. Sometimes they simply describe the bird but often they include a photo. If the description or photos are good, it’s pretty easy although birds from other continents are a bit more of a challenge. I can only recall being stumped twice. Occasionally a description is just plain wrong or misleading and I have to work with the questioner to refine it.
  2. Behavior – why are blackbirds chasing a hawk, why do starlings flock in the winter, why do woodpeckers peck on my house?
  3. Injuries and illnesses– bird with broken wing, Northern Cardinal with bald head (feather mites), House Finches with eye problems (conjunctivitis), etc. I always recommend going to a wildlife rehab center or a vet.
  4. Baby birds – usually this is a fledgling that jumped out of the nest; I usually recommend they leave it alone but if necessary, take it to a bird rehab center.
  5. Pest birds – how to prevent grackles from pooping on the pool deck, swallows from building nests on the house, and mockingbirds from singing all night.
  6. Why are there fewer birds in my backyard/neighborhood/local park this year? And,
  7. General questions – how birds fly, breathe, hatch, incubate, the longest wingspan, etc.

I have also received a number of questions on caged birds – parakeets, parrots, doves, and so on. Although not my real expertise, I know enough about keeping birds (I did it myself briefly many years ago, although today I am not fond of keeping birds in captivity) to answer questions, like “why are my lovebirds molting?” how big should a nest box be for doves?” and “how to sex parakeets.” I try to give the inquirer some other site to go to to get an answer.

It seems that many people who ask questions about their caged birds know less about birds in general than those who ask about wild birds. I guess that bird keepers simply go to a pet shop and bring home a bird and a cage and assume it will need minimal care and just act like a hamster.  A recent questioner asked why her birds were fighting. (In a small cage you just can’t randomly mix a bunch of birds of different species as she did.) It’s truly amazing to find that some people who buy a bird at a pet shop have no idea what species it is. A person wanted to know how to sex and breed his lovebirds. When I asked what species, he sent me a photo of his parakeets! And then there is the guy who wanted to use his flock of chickens to hatch parrot eggs. (I didn’t ask for details.)

Watching birds in the wild is much more ornithologically educational, it appears.


334 thoughts on “Ask the Expert”

  1. Hi there!

    Today at work I found a chickadee that had flown into our glass greenhouse. S/he was laying on the pavement panting and seemed on the verge of death. We thought she’d broken her neck but then she was able to pick her head up and look around. I’m thinking she’s suffered a concussion as she’s sleeping a lot and is a little twitchy at times. I’ve brought her home and have been letting her sleep protected. I’ve had her for close to 2 hours now and she’s still sleeping but I have higher hopes now that she’s going to survive.
    I live a 15 minute highway car ride from work and was wondering, when she gets better enough to be released, will it be ok for her to be released here on my farm or will that be detrimental? Does she have a flock she has to rely on back at my work? I work on a collage campus with many tall glass buildings as well as the greenhouse and birds are constantly dying on our campus 🙁
    It kind of makes me concerned to bring her back there but I want to do what’s best for her

    Thank you so much for your time and I hope to hear back soon

      1. I was wondering if raven wings are really iridescent? With purple and blue hues when viewed in the light. I don’t know what pictures to trust online. Are they just solid sleek shiny black?

      2. For a month, I’ve befriended a limping Canadian goose in my backyard, adjacent to a creek.
        It is shunned and chased by other geese, of other grazing flocks and has lost all, but one of his 6” black tail feathers, but can still fly. I feed it cracked corn and birdseed, few times a day and I keep it safe from other hungry geese, as it eats, to fortify it for winter. The goose might have sustained an injury or had some birth defect, as I noticed it limping months ago, in the early summer. The creek and most all open water freezes in the upcoming Minnesota winter and I wonder if it can migrate w/o its fan of tail feathers? It cowers to avoid other geese and stays way on the periphery of any gathered geese, some nights staying alone in our backyard, as I play a radio to try and keep any predator away (fox, coyote or raccoons). It knows I am in supportive allegiance to it and trusts me. If I take to any rehabilitation clinic, they’ll euthanize it (done that one too many times).
        Its appearance and limp apparently prompts the various ganders to instinctively “protect” its flock from “catching some contagious disease” and so they are predisposed to chasing and pecking at it, which is pitiful!
        Any advice for me? Drive to open water in Iowa or Missouri?
        Thanks for any suggestions from “Lamey” and myself. -John

  2. Hello. I have found on my computer, a note I made some time ago to myself. Undoubtedly, I was reading something on-line that about this. The note says that the eared dove of S. America is a relative of the passenger pigeon, that it nests and travels in massive flocks as they did and even darkens the skies. It also says this bird like the passenger pigeon is under intense pressure from land clearing and hunting.
    Since discovery of this note, I haven’t found anything else on-line that describes the massive groupings or the possible genetic relations. A hopeful thought occurs to me, that some N. Am passengers may have mixed in and mated. I suppose that’s a dream because, from what I know of our bird, it seems it would not have straggled away.
    Do you know where I can find more information on dan links between n am passenger pigeon and s am eared dove. I keep finding information about mourning doves, in this search – which, unfortunately, in Florida is seems have been replaced by collard doves. I’d also like to know if protection measures are being coordinated for the S. Am birds if people are at all able – AT ALL able to learn from history.

    1. The Passenger Pigeon and S.A. Eared Dove have similar habits, but they are only distant relatives. Since they are not only different species but different genera, it is highly unlikely that they interbred at any point. Their ranges also did not overlap. To find more information, search under their scientific names, Ectopistes migratorius and Zenaida auriculata. Protection for birds in SOuth America is generally terrible.

    1. I am trying to catch and contain a wild mallard to get him help. His foot is injured and today he could barely walk.. today I had my hands on him and almost caught him. Will he let me near him again for another attempt. They have been coming to my house daily for months to get millet

  3. Hi I have two pet cockatiels that are brother and sister and they have just laid two eggs at the bottom of the cage. The parents of them were also cockatiels and they are now two years old. We are not sure what to do with the eggs.

  4. I live in central Massachusetts and have set up a thistle tube feeder and it is frequented by juncos, chickadees, tufted titmice and golden finches.

    At least two of the finches have markings that have me wondering. With the number of them that frequent the feeder, there may be others. One has a skull cap (yarmulke) marking (on top of its head) that appears to be yellow and the other has a yellow Mohawk on the top of its head.

    Genetic mutation or something else? Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Paul Piergallini

    1. I presume you mean goldfinches. This time of year all the birds are in their winter plumage which varies considerably. Plus there are matures and immatures. Variation in color and pattern is pretty common among these birds. Not a genetic mutation.

  5. Dear Dr Lederer,

    I was sitting on the porch here in East Tennessee this morning listening to the Carolina Wrens chirruping away when I thought of the following question.

    It has been rumoured (the veracity of this rumour being irrelevant for present purposes) that in Medicine, when a Doctor or researcher is unable to account for a given condition they will resort to their default explanation of its being “genetic”. It occurred to me that the same might be said (whether accurately or not) of zoologists – that they might designate any unexplained behaviour among animals as being the result of “instinct”.

    My question, therefore, is: If a bird is raised away from others of its own species and never has occasion to hear an example of the typical vocalization of its own species, will it still produce those same songs and calls, and if so, how? Or is their signature sound the result of learned behaviour?

    Yours Faithfully,

    Elliot Brown

    1. It has been known for a long time that the song of a bird has two origins. There is a genetic, intrinsic part that they are born with and a learned part. Young birds have the genetic part and as they mature the next spring they hear the songs of the adults of their species and learn to refine their song by listening to them. Some species of songbirds have been experimentally raised in isolation and in that case they will develop a song that is partly based on the birds of other species that they hear.


    Is this a more accurate answer? If you go to this site the very first picture is what I am seeing.

    I live in central Massachusetts and have set up a thistle tube feeder and it is frequented by juncos, chickadees, tufted titmice and goldfinches.

    At least two of the finches have markings that have me wondering. With the number of them that frequent the feeder, there may be others. One has a skull cap (yarmulke) marking (on top of its head) that appears to be yellow and the other has a yellow Mohawk on the top of its head.

    Genetic mutation or something else? Thank you for your time and consideration.

  7. Jeffrey D Huling

    I have a unique question I was hoping you could help me with…
    I’ve started a forum organization that’s branded after birds that fly in V-Formation and we host an annual conference that provides subject matter experts and leaders speaking to the forum’s members. I’m trying to come up with a name for the network of leaders (or the tip of the V formation) and was wondering if there’s a technical or slang name for the lead/head position of the V formation?
    Do you have any great ideas for names as it relates to the leading bird(s) of a group?
    Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

  8. Good Afternoon (or Morning in California),
    I was curious about the toxicity of spur-winged geese. I am curious if we know how long [after they eat poisonous beetles] the toxicity stays within them. I think their flesh loses the toxicity after a few months, but I’m curious if anyone has anything written on this precise point. Could you direct me in the right direction?
    Thank you so much for your time and knowledge!
    All the best!

  9. We have a eastern screech owl that comes to perch in our white pines every so often
    It is a rufous phased bird or brown
    We live in Northwest Indiana.
    I have read that the two color phases are southern in nature
    Gray should be in our region
    Is this unusual?
    I have been birding for many years and teach Environmental Science and a short course in Birding

    1. Both color phases are found across the range of the Eastern Screech Owl, but in different proportions. In Indiana, the populations tend to be 60% red and 40% gray, but there is some variability.

  10. Our classroom has a baby duck and he is doing great. We wonder, is it harmful to him if he stays in the class overnight 12-15 hours alone? It has food, heat, water and company of a stuffed animal. We also leave quiet music to make him feel he is not alone.

  11. I was sitting in my yard one afternoon, in New Mexico, and watched a small brown bird fly out of a tree and catch insects and take them back to the nest. I could hear the babies chipping loudly every time they were fed. What I noticed was that the bird didn’t fly out and chase down the insects, he/she flew in an arc and intercepted the insect, being able to fly right back to the nest. I observed this 4 or 5 times. The bird hunting in a perfect circle and going back home without wasted energy. Is this common? I know food source can make a difference. Hawks and eagles dive. Hummingbirds feed on flowers, so they hover. Was what I observed common among small, (hand size), birds?

  12. Oh my how do you tell if a egg you found is dead or alive! I found this small egg in my yard and ive been trying to figure out what kind of egg it is and if its even still alive…it doesnt have any cracks on it bit i think it might have died when it fell out its nest

  13. Hello,

    Around midnight last night, about 10 miles from the coast in southeast Florida (Palm Beach County), I heard a VERY loud “aawwrk!” followed by pecking, which kept repeating that sequence. It sounded like a cross between some type of parrot and a very loud chicken. It was in a tree or on a fence post. I spooked it, it flew a short distance, and had the silhouette of an owl, with large long wings compared to a small body.
    I am very familiar with birds in south Florida, and I’ve never heard anything like this. It’s not a night heron, I see those a lot. I thought it was an owl, but no owls at least in North America make that sound. What could this be??


  14. Hi There,

    Had a query ,if I touched a baby sparrow,do other sparrows or his own mother kill the baby as it got a human touch?
    I have seen a baby sparrow falling down from height and was unable to fly or walk.I lift him gently and put on the table so that his mother can see him.after some time o found some sparrows gathered and take the baby along with them.Do they kill the baby?

  15. How do I stop birds from ruining the screens on my window? I assume they’re using the strands for nesting material. I’m in Silver Spring, Maryland and it’s the most common type of small bird in a residential area.

  16. I have a 4 month old Alexandrine parrot ..she is very playful ..but for the last 5-6 days she was having loose droppings with a huge amount of clear watery liquid.. I was giving Ofloxacine Ornidazole suspension but it was not helpful ..2 days ago she stopped eating anything and the water came out with droppings in great amount and frequency ..My vet told me to switch the antibiotic to Cotrimoxazole paediatric suspension.. but today I noticed that she might having cold .. she is very inactive and lethergic ..please tell me what can I do for her wellness..please tell me

  17. I have a stand of about 50 purple coneflowers that are about 4 feet tall. Every flower stem has been broken about one inch below the bloom. The dead bloom just hangs from the broken stem. I can find no evidence of any animal, and to me it looks only that a bird could have done this. The plants are otherwise healthy. Have you heard of bird exhibiting this behavior? I was wondering if it may be some competitive territorial behavior. I live in Dublin, Ohio and have many finches, blue jays, cardinals, robins and other less abundant birds.

  18. Hey there, today while I was out a little guy smacked into a window so I brought him home with me, I think it’s a juvenile Northern Parula, I think they are currently migrating down south, I live in Ontario Canada. I was just wondering if I should let him go in a day or so if he seems strong enough or if I should get a cage for him to house him for the winter?

  19. Hi, I got my bird yesterday and I was told it is better to keep the cage door open for my bird so it knows it’s safe. It suddenly starting screaming and flew out of the cage, into a window twice, and fell, I tried to grab it, and I put it back in its cage. Then it started panting and moving side to side onto one foot. I’m not sure what to do, I have not signed up for a vet yet.

  20. Dear Dr Lederer,

    I am an artist interested to design and fabricate tall sculptures designed support stork nests. The sculptures themselves are simple spiraling posts of various spiraling frequencies and painted various colors that correspond with the frequencies. What’s more important is determining where to install these sculptures. Can you tell me where storks and other large birds build nests in high places where they would likely also utilize a tall sculpture for this purpose. I’d be happy to share my designs for your input as well and would be grateful for your advice about the distribution of large birds that would likely build a nest on a very tall artwork.

    Thank you, Peter

    1. Well, there is no simple answer here. Storks are one species but other large birds, hawks and eagles, for example, prefer somewhat different nesting places. Ospreys are pretty flexible and would most likely use one of these
      sculptures, but it would have to be near water. Where you put these sculptures depends on where you are (country, city, suburbs, or wherever) and the nearby habitat – marsh, grassland, forest, etc. And of course, whether there are storks or ospreys or whatever in the area. More details about what the sculpture looks like, how tall it is, what it looks like at the top, and the possible places they could be put would be helpful.

      1. Dear Dr. Lederer,
        Thank you for your reply,
        I’d like the final design to suit the storks who I hope will build nests on the highest point of the posts. I’ve designed a metal basket that may encourage the nest building. May I send you the working designs of the posts and baskets? If yes could you let me know what email address to direct it too. I’d be grateful for your feedback.
        Thank you,

  21. Hi Dr. Lederer,

    I’ve been doing research on birds that are capable of seeing ultraviolet light, and have found conflicting evidence on owls, specifically, and their ability to do so. Are there any species of owls that are able to distinguish UV light?
    Thank you,


  22. Hi Dr. Lederer,

    While taking a video of birds in the park, I observed a great blue heron catch a fish and then, instead of swallowing it right away, repeatedly leave it to flop around on the ground for a few seconds, then dip it in the water, then leave it on the ground again. In the end, it dropped the fish back into the water while dipping it. The whole thing seemed ridiculous to me.

    Here’s the video of it:

    Is there a known explanation for this behavior? I couldn’t find anything from a quick online search. My best guess is that it was just having a hard time swallowing the fish (though it didn’t seem that big), that it was wetting it in order to make it easier to swallow, and that it was leaving the fish on the ground in order to rest between attempts at swallowing it.

    Thanks for your attention,

  23. Hello. I have many types of feeders and seed in my yard for the birds. Usually I can identify the birds that visit but we had a newcomer that I just can’t put my finger on. I was unable to get a photo as a car drove by as I was grabbing my camera. It was Mockingbird/Thrush in shape though a tad larger with a more rounded head. Beak a bit shorter than the head, pointed and straight. Mostly brown with a lighter underside and a darker thick band across its chest (kind of like the colouration of a killdeer without the white). I live in the Ozarks region of Arkansas, very near to a large lake, in a wooded area. The bird was pecking at the ground but not near a feeder. It has been raining for days and we’ve had a couple hard freezes the past month, if that helps any. Any clue as to what it could be?

      1. I thought so as well at first, but it lacked any spots and it’s stance was more Roadrunner-like (if that makes sense). Are there any similar birds that visit the Ozarks during the winter?

  24. Hi there,

    I discovered a duck nest hiding in my bushes around a week ago and would check on the mom and her eggs ever so often. This morning I woke up to the mama duck quaking constantly and found cracked egg shells and most of the eggs sadly eaten. There is one egg left… Do you know if the mom will continue to take care of this egg or would it be better if I took care of the egg at this point? Thank you.

  25. do squirrels eat baby birds? Do i have to worry about squirrels eating the nesting birds in the bird houses I put up? do i have to worry about them eating the birds in my trees?

  26. My wife and I were wondering why goose droppings seem “different” All other birds, including large ones seem to make white liquid like “splats”, while geese make little “turds”, similar to non avians.

    Is there something inherently different about a goose’s digestive system that causes this? Are there other birds like this?

    1. Yes. Geese eat a lot of grass and grain that is hard to digest, so a lot of it goes through the digestive system and comes out as mostly dry feces. Same for other geese and swans and a number of other birds. Birds that eat insects, worms, nectar, some seeds, digest most of it and have watery feces.

  27. I brought an abandoned Chimney Swift fledgling to my home because I don’t feel it is safe being around there.I studied about it’s diet as it only eats insects but is it safe for a Chimney Swift to eat an Egg-White of boiled egg?

  28. Do flocks of birds poop in unison? My driveway has no overhanging lines or trees of any kind, but there are mornings when I’ll come out to the pavement or my car literally covered in splats of bird poop.

  29. I live in an area with at least one red shoulder hawk. The other afternoon I observed one of these birds on the ground, laying breast on the ground, head down, wings semi spread and tail spread. The area was covered in pine straw and the hawk almost disappeared in this posture. It remained that way for about 10 minutes, arose walked briefly in a circle then resumed that posture again. After several more minutes it just stood and flew away. Can you provide some explanation for this behavior? Thank you.

  30. We have a beautiful red=winged blackbird who visits our yard regularly. We’ve always noticed his asymmetrical coloring, but it’s become even more pronounced in the late spring. While he has the yellow “trim” on both wings, he only has one single red epaulette on his right wing. There’s isn’t a hint of red on the left side, even in flight. Is this just an isolated genetic anomaly? Or is he in fact some kind of bird I’ve never heard of with only one red wing typically? Thank you so much for this resource.

  31. Can you settle an argument? Are hawks or owls able to pick up and carry full grown cats or small dogs or is this a myth? There are lots of doctored photos and videos out there.

    1. You are right – there are lots of doctored videos that make it appear that small dogs or cats are in danger from hawks and owls. Well, yes, big hawks and owls could carry off a small dog or cat. But does it happen? Very very rarely. Have yet to see any real evidence that it happens although I’m sure it has. The fact that small dogs and cats are usually near dwellings where you don’t find may hawks or owls and that cats and dogs have teeth and cats claws, makes it unlikely that they are common prey. I suspect that a feral puppy or kitten born out in the woods may fall prey but the idea that small pets are taken by hawks or owls is vastly exaggerated.
      Roger Lederer

      1. Thank you. There are people who continue to maintain that a 4-pound hawk can carry off a 12-pound cat. I just don’t see the physics of that being possible.

  32. I hope I’m not replying to a question because I’m trying to ask one. A bird made a nest in my laundry vent leading from the laundry room to the back porch. Unfortunately it’s where my dog’s lead is located. When she stands on her hind legs it’s the same height as her muzzle, which happens to fit almost perfectly.
    I think it’s far enough away from the opening that it’s out of her reach, but she won’t leave it alone.
    I don’t imagine this being a livable situation for a nest full of baby birds or their mother, but don’t know what to do.
    I can’t move the dog bc she rips stakes holding her lead out of the ground, and every tree in my yard is far too wide to put a lead around.
    I can’t see the babies, but I can hear them and see the nest. I haven’t seen the mother yet which I feel may be odd, but know she’s around bc it’s been at least a week since they hatched. Shouldn’t the mother bird have attacked the dog?
    I don’t know if I can even reach the nest, but am under the impression that if I were to touch or move the nest or babies, the mother will reject them and they’ll end up dying.
    What if anything can I do? The dog has started to pace, wine, jump on and off the bed, bark, basically do anything to get me to put her outside 24 hours a day..

  33. Does anyone know if it’s possible to attract hummingbirds with a feeder on the balcony of a 15th floor apartment? It seems like hummingbirds can and do fly that high, but I’m not sure if it’s worth buying a feeder. Help me out?

    1. It’s possible but unlikely. If you want to try, hang a feeder and decorate your balcony with lots of flowers, even artificial ones you have to get their attention. You might occasionally get a visitor, especially at migration time. But there won’t be many.

  34. Jayme Niemelainen


    I was trimming trees along a fence the other day in my backyard, and I unfortunately exposed the right side of a birds’ nest full of nestlings, when i did so! I stopped cutting right away, but now the nest is fully visible, and out in the wind & elements, from that angle. I am worried the nestlings may die, or that I may have caused the parents to abandon the nest? Is there anything I can do?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  35. A bird that looks like a young owl has gone into my friend’s shop 4 or 5 times. It will sit near a human and let the human touch it. The bird looks bedraggled. Its feathers are messy and dirty-looking. I’m worried that there is something wrong with the owl. Should they try to take it to a vet? I have photos.

    1. That sounds either like the owl has been domesticated or it has been attacked by a predator. But if it goes into your friend’s shop on a regular basis, there is something unusual about it and I suspect it has been domesticated and kept in a cage. Take it to a vet or a wildlife rehab place. Or call your local wildlife official.

  36. I was at Lake Houston this afternoon and watched a pair of large brown birds diving for fish. They would dive and the sit on the water to eat it. It was a brown bird with about a 4 foot wing span that was dark brown except the top of it’s wings were a light tan. It reminded us of a pelican at first because it had a long beak. A very distinguishing feature was a large white spot on it’s head. The head was brown with the spot. Do you happen to know what this could be. I didn’t see the feet but it did sit in the water and take off from the water.

    1. Most likely it is either the Neotropic Cormorant or the Double-crested Cormorant.They are related to pelicans. The large white spot tells me it is probably the Neotropic Cormorant.

  37. Preston Ballard

    For the past few weeks we have had juvenile Cooper’s hawks in our neighborhood, but recently I have noticed a juvenile red shouldered flying with them. I was wondering if they could possibly be hunting together or maybe I’m just misidentifying the birds?

  38. This is a bit of a grim one, but I’m having trouble finding answers anywhere else. There was a male ruby-throated hummingbird struggling on our property yesterday (not flying, having trouble breathing, not interested in any sugar water or flowers), and despite our best efforts, he passed away. As it happened, the red feathers on his chest turned black. I thought I imagined it, but as I turned him around, only one or two of the feathers still looked red. Why did this happen?

    1. It’s all about feather structure. The iridesence on the male’s chest is due to a combination of pigment and the structure of the feathers. When the light hits it in a particular direction, you see iridescent red. Other lighting conditions produce black or at least a dark color. Put the bird in various bright lights and you’ll see the red.

      1. That’s just the thing, though, the bird was lying in one position when the colour changed, it did not move, nor did the lighting change. It just stopped breathing, and the feathers went from red to black. That’s why it has confused me so much. I moved it around a bit to bury it, but they stayed black.

  39. I recently saw a cormorant at our local park. It dove pretty quickly, soon after it came up struggling with a large green eel. The thick 2′ eel seemed quite determined to escape by thrashing and even wrapping around the birds neck! Still, after about 2 minutes the bird somehow opened it’s throat real wide and swallowed it down entirely… BUT the battle for life and dinner wasn’t over yet! The desperate eel still was resisting and seemed to rise partly (I could see it come back out!) escaping the bird’s neck/stomach many times, only to be gulped back in. Watching the Cormorant contend with this monster was some sight! Eventually the uncomfortable cormorant swam away with what appeared to be the unfortunate prey frantically wriggling in its stomach!

    Sorry to digress, my questions are as follows… So can the bird really manage to digest that huge thing bones and all and how?? Does the poor eel (it was quite a bright/pretty green color) stand any slim chance of escaping (that thrashing, biting, etc.) the hungry birds stomach or is it destined to become food at that point?!

    I would think the eel’s slime acts as a protective coating and help it turn around in such stretchy/elastic surroundings too?

    Thanks for all the feedback/info, have a good day!

  40. On my feeding ground several month ago I observe female sparrow was feeding daily some baby bird from
    different species, in appearance and behaviour it look like baby blackbird, by now it is dark brown with light brown
    feather along wings and keeps together with other young sparrows, it is much larger then sparrow but smaller then
    blackbird..I have sparrow and starling bird houses, red wing and brewer’s blackbirds fed here up up a month ago..
    Interesting what species this bird belong to and will it survive winter while thinking belong to sparrows….

  41. Two years ago I saw sparrows behind building near busy intersection in Mississauga Ontario, one of them was pure
    white albino, it last only 10 second before they fly on top of building but this encounter with white sparrow puzzle me .
    ever since…

  42. Hi there,

    Does King Fishers exhibit tool use behavior ?
    I saw on Youtube a King Fisher that used a piece of wood/paper or something to lure fish to the surface and
    then catch it as it comes near. Did not know that! – and cannot find any other reference to it on Google?
    (Maybe it is fake? bit it looked real enough…)

    1. I have not observed that but I’m sure it occurs. I’ve watched herons and hawks do so and I would not doubt that kingfishers do as well. A quick search didn’t turn up any evidence but here’s a paper on bird tool using that might shed some light on the issue.

      1. Ahh, Thank you for the correction and Info, Very interesting. Yes it appears to be a Heron, not a Kingfisher,
        Not sure why I had Kingfisher in my head !. 🙂
        Explains why I could not get anything. As soon as one searches with Heron – there are plenty of video footage.
        Anyway, I didn’t know birds can fish like that. Seems so amazing.

        By the way here is the link if you wanted a look.

        Link: (Time stamp 15:07)

  43. Please respond to this phenom!!! I live in Agoura Hills, Ca, on a hill with a 300 degree view. I have a large windo in which I look out all day for years, as I was bed bound with an illness. I know all the birds, their flights, habits etc.
    Since LOCKDOWN there are almost NO BIRDs to be seen anywhere…in the air, or on treees or power lines. The occasional one or two birds dart here and there, but other than that, no birds anywhere.
    This is completely un precedented. I know not everyone pays attention to the birds like it do, but not seeing any… you have any idea why????

    1. This is the time of year when bird populations are changing because migration is going on. Birds fly in groups, then settle down to rest , then fly again. Finally the groups break apart and the birds seek places to nest. They are less obvious when they are building a nest, as well. It is not unusual at all for birds to be common and then disappear for a period of time. It almost certainly has nothing to do with lockdown or the coronavirus, although I suppose it’s possible that people disappearing from a certain area might attract birds that normally would not be there, attracting birds from your area.

  44. Andrew Poliszczuk

    In urban areas birds mostly can be found near bird feeders and bird houses, if birds find nicer place with more tasty food
    they will stay there but some will come visit their old feeding ground few time daily, Black birds and Mallard duck like
    to come back every season to same feeding ground, Starlings and Sparrows will breed in same bird houses, bird houses
    need to be clean inside every season…

  45. For the first time in ten years we have crows visiting in our trees in our urban yard. I watch them pick at all the little branches in the maple and drop them all over. Occasionally he or she carries one off to the large pine across the street. I’m guessing they are building a nest, but am dying to know if you can explain why they are doing this. I watched a pair of Cooper’Hawks doing a similar thing. Is there another motivation for this behavior?

  46. I had a woodpecker boring a hole in my birch tree so I put up a house for it. He and a female were going to move in until a falcon chased them away. Now I have a falcon, but no woodpecker or songbirds… Should I take the birdhouse down?

  47. A baby babbler bird came to our yard yesterday along with parent birds. Yesterday baby was active and eating but since today morning it is sluggish , neither eating nor responding well . Parents birds tried to gain its attention but it is sitting in one corner with eyes closed . It is still alive , it has little feathers all over the body. now after some hours parents flew away . Baby is still alive how can I help it ? Due to lockdown the vet hospital near our home is closed . Please reply me how can I feed it ?

  48. Recently, A Carolina Wren laid her eggs in our barn. It has been a week since she’s been back to her nest. I know this because I set up a trail cam and it never showed any sign of her. I’m wondering if I should take her eggs inside and care for them so that they have a chance to hatch?

    1. If you are sure she has abandoned the nest, you can try to hatch the eggs yourself. But, the eggs may be no good, for several reasons. If they are good, it takes some knowledge to go about hatching the eggs and especially raising the young . Unless you have experience, it is VERY difficult to raise young birds. I suggest you contact your local bird rehab center or wildlife official.

  49. Today, I heard a very strange bird call. I asked around on the internet what it was and I was told it was either a Carolina Chickadee or a White-Throated Sparrow, but I want to know the definitive answer. Here’s a link to a video I took of the bird call. I live in Northern Indiana and it was about 7:00 P.M. when I recorded the video. Keep in mind when you watch the video that I’m referring to the call that is three long notes in the background rather than the louder, chittery woodpecker call.

    1. Well, there was no sound on the link on my end, but from your description of the call, I’d say it was the White-throated Sparrow. Chickadees don’t make three long notes but WC Sparrows do. Of course, it could be something else, but without hearing the call, I can’t guess.

  50. Some Chickadees built a nest in the banister on our porch. We don’t mind, but we’re worried that it could get flooded because it’s completely vertical with the nest at the bottom & no way to stop the rain from falling directly on the eggs. We have ideas for how we could block the rain without it interfering in their accessing the nest, but I don’t want to do anything if it isn’t necessary. There is one new egg as of today.

  51. In our house in southern Colorado there has been great horned owls coming to the outside rafters for the house for even before us buying the house 9 years ago. There is normally 2 different owls that seem to be one female and one male but a couple years ago a third owl would appear if the other two were gone. We have never seen a nest or babies but they also would go into big trees near the house. They will leave sometimes for a couple weeks but always come back. They were here at Christmas time but we haven’t seen them since. I was wondering what could have caused that. Do they migrate? I also was wondering about how we haven’t seen any baby owls? Do they go somewhere else in the spring to have babies then come back? Thanks.

    1. I can’t tell you what is going on without seeing the owls and the environment. They don’t migrate but they will wander locally during non breeding season. How do you know the third owl is different than the pair? Might be one of the same pair or one of their young/ They might use the house for roosting and go somewhere else for nesting.

  52. We live in Ottawa, Canada and have noticed a significant increase in the number of robins in our neighbourhood this spring. We are wondering whether the changes in our area due to Covid-19 (fewer cars on the street, fewer people walking around,etc.) might have anything to do with it…. or the fact we are having an unusually cool spring.

    1. No question that birds and other wildlife are more visible this season because there is less human activity. Fewer people, fewer cars, more birds. I love it. Except for the virus part of it, of course.

  53. Andrew Poliszczuk

    For about six years pair of Mallard Duck arrive in April, this is probably second or third generation, they eat food with other birds and squirrels and spend lot of time in my neighbor pond but later they nesting not far away on small lake…, often another
    Mallard Duck male accompany this pair., in late summer this ducks disappearing for eight month and returning next
    year in April… my question is where this pair of Ducks is surviving for eight month… if they would be with other Mallard Ducks
    in nearby park they probably would come during winter to look for food but they never come..

  54. I don’t know where you live or what the local conditions are so I can’t give you a specific answer. Surely they found some other place that suits them, or perhaps they wander among vari;ous places.

  55. Every spring for the last several years, robins have taken up nesting in the light fixture on our front porch. This year was no exception, however, after several days we noticed something odd – there was a new bird squatting next to Miss Robin. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you – that’s a mourning dove.

    Now we can’t wait to see what transpires once the babies are born. Will the mothers get along? How will the babies interact once they are older? So many questions.

  56. Epaulets of Red-winged blackbirds – Is this a unique feature, or are there other birds that have such variable displays on their wings – able to be covered or exposed?

      1. Actually, I was specifically focusing in on the epaulets, asking if this display location was unique to the red-wing blackbird. Or are there other species with such “voluntary” epaulet displays that might indicate an evolutionary trail to ancestors?

        1. Oh, OK. Yes, there are. In fact one is called the Epaulet Oriole. Others are the Variable Oriole and the Moriche Oriole. There are probably several more if one took the time to search.

          1. Thanks… Not sure I’d know how to begin such a search… “bird’s with expressive epaulets”? 😉
            I checked a few epaulet oriole sites, but couldn’t find any that described its epaulet’s functions… Used for display, like the red-wing’s, or just decorative?

  57. Well, I haven’t done much on this subject except to tell you of a few birds with epaulets. My suggestion is to go to Google Scholar or JSTOR and search the scientific literature. JSTOR limits your choices unless you are a member. Same with Science DIrect. But if there is anything known, it’ll be in the ornithological or ecological journals from around the world..

  58. Franklin Ducheneaux

    I live on the western slope of the Mission Mountains in Montana. In 2003 or 4, I witnessed the following phenomenon: In the early summer mornings, hundreds if not thousands of Ravens would fly out of the mountain forests down to the valley floor. In the evening, the reverse was true. This went on for three or four weeks. I have lived here for 16 years since and it has never happened again. Can you tell me why?

    1. I’ve seen this behavior in Crows in Oklahoma. The Ravens leave the mountains where they overnight in roosts and then move to the valley floor to find food and go back up to the mountains to roost again. Why have you not seen this again? I don’t know, but I suspect whatever food source attracted them is no longer there. They could have been feeding on corn or peanuts or whatever and the farmer decided to change his crop to something less palatable. Or the feeding area got turned into a shopping mall. Something like that.

  59. Hello.

    I fed local sparrows and pigeons bread a couple of weeks ago. I put some of bread right on the edge of my balcony. Some breadcrumbs were also on my balcony. The strange thing is that since then, a sparrow, or sparrows, have brought bread to my balcony twice. In the first case, either the sparrow who had brought the bread or another sparrow took it. In the second case, the piece of bread put by a sparrow onto the edge of my balcony fell inside and is still here.

    I understand this might be a coincidence. However, I would still like to pose a couple of questions. Do sparrows remember where they got a lot of free food? Is this a kind of thanks or a hint to give them more?

    1. Sometimes the birds just take more than they can eat and just return it to a place they feel comfortable at. Bread is not very nutritious and the birds just eat it casually because they are bored. Unless they are starving, they certainly don’t want more bread. Feed them seeds.

  60. So we know that birds have evolved a number of mechanical features to optimize flight, but what at the biological or neurological attributes that have been evolved to optimize location identification and navigation? Some reference have been made to their sense of timing being influenced by both proximate and ultimate factors. Could you please explain or direct me to some references that explore or explain these?

    Thank you for your assistance.

    1. That’s a very heavy set of questions, so I would direct you to Frank Gills basic ornithology text to begin. Read what he has to say about these areas of interested and follow up by looking at the references he lists in the text. Or go directly to Google Scholar and look at the scientific literature. I couldn’t even begin to give you a satisfactory answer if I wrote for several hours. Best if you do the reading. I’d be happy to answer specific questions but to explain the biological attributes for navigation is just too much to tackle here.

    1. Your neighbors were going to toss the birds away? That’s immoral and illegal. These are some kind of flycatcher. You need to bring them to a wildlife official or bird rehab center. It is VERY difficult to raise them if you have no experience. Meanwhile you can try to feed them moist dog food and mashed hard boiled egg. NO water.

      1. Thank you for the quick response. Yes, I couldn’t believe it either. I’ve contacted bird rescue and they’ll get these chicks on Monday. Thank you again!

  61. ronald churchill

    hello there, i need help identifying a bird by its call only here in Cyprus. i live in a rural/farmland area 2000 ft above sea level near the village of Tsada. as i post this plea for help it is nearing the end of June 2020. every morning for 3 weeks i have heard a call best described as ‘frog like’ or even similar to a calling Fallow Buck in the ‘rut’. mostly pre 8 am for an hour or two before the heat builds. could it be a migratory ground nesting bird perhaps ? it’s call is as strong and carries as far as a hoopoe. needless to say i have never had a visual on this mystery bird. thank you for any help gentlemen. rc.

  62. Hello,
    today I walked by a nest box in a meadow. The front part with the entry hole for the birds was hinged wide open. In it was a nest with a baby bird and the mother was nearby. I wonder if I should go back and try to close the box or just leave it open. I do not want to disturb the nest and I do not know if the mother would reenter once the box is closed., I feel that the chick is not very protected. The meadow is in a park surrounded by woods. It has a big trail system and a lot of people visit it for running and biking. I cannot tell what kind of bird is nesting in there. What would you recommend?

    1. Leave it be. Since I don’t know what kind of bird it is, it might be something that doesn’t normally nest in a nest box but did so because it was open. Even if it is, the parents are likely around somewhere. Best not to disturb it.

    2. Usually such bird houses (typically for bluebirds or tree swallows here in Michigan) on trail systems are regularly looked after by someone. Is there a park office there?

  63. Would an American robin bully a sick mate away from the nest?
    There is a nest outside my window, with what appears to be a mated pair and 3 chicks. However, whenever what I assume is the female (it’s smaller) tries to get near enough to take care of the chicks, the other tweets at it and chases it away. I will note though, that the one that is being chased away has feathers missing and as a result seems to struggle to fly perfectly, so I thought it may have an underlying medical problem. Does this seem like normal behavior? I know from watching other robins outside my house that usually both mates seem involved in the care of their offspring.

    1. I’m not clear on the situation you describe. Only the male is taking care of the chicks. you think? If the bird that is being chased away is smaller and has feathers missing, I think it is a young bird, maybe from another nest and not the female. It’s not a medical issue, the bird is just not full grown. At least that’s my interpretation from your description.

  64. We live at 1450 feet elevation 30 miles south of Yosemite NP. There is a large California Quail population all around our area. One particular pair laid a nest of 9 eggs in a large litter plant on our patio. Several other quail laid clutches nearby and they hatched at about 3 weeks. This odd pair has been sitting in the eggs for about TWO MOBTHS! The eggs can’t be viable at this time? Can they?
    We leave them alone, but today while both parents were gone, I picked just one up to feel it. It was firm and heavy with no visible defects. Anything you could add would be greatly appreciated. TY

    1. If they have been regularly incubating the eggs fro two months then the eggs are most likely bad. Birds can sit on the eggs without incubating them, but that’s unusual with a full clutch of eggs. If they are no bother, leave things be and see what happens.

  65. Hi There!
    I answer an animal support line, and we advise, provide resources and sometimes respond to animal emergencies. This time of year, naturally I get lots of “this bird can’t fly” calls for which we know are simply fledglings doing their thing. It’s wonderful to live in an age when I can have a caller easily send pictures to identify this. I have noticed that many of the fledgling’s toes curl under, or point in odd directions, and they have difficulty standing up. My question is twofold… does this malformation happen as a consequence of how it developed in the nest? And, will the toes grow out and correct the condition with time? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Jules. THere are at least two possibilities here. THe most likely is that the muscles that control the toes/tendons are not developed well enough or just haven’t been given sufficient exercise.The other possibility, less likely, is that the bird has a Vitamin D deficiency. In both cases the bird should develop normally with care from the parents. And yes, it could be a genetic or developmental malformation that will never correct itself, but I suspect that’s less common. Kudos to you and your animal support group.

  66. Hello!

    I’m part of a school community in Southeastern PA, and we are thinking of building bird nesting boxes in our little marsh on campus. We’d like to pick species that need support, and we are also interested in dramatic species that will draw students to the marsh. We are thinking of tree-swallows, barn owls, and osprey. What would you recommend as we think about this project?

    1. I suggest you contact your local AUdubon Society for input. I don’t know anything about this marsh so I can’t tell you the suitability of any nest boxes for a particular species. Barn Owls are not marsh nesters and osprey do not use nest boxes, by the way. THere may be other suitable species you haven’t considered. Besides contacting Audubon, there may be some other conservation organizations nearby that might give you good input. Good luck. Could be a great project.

  67. Hi,

    There were 2 small songbirds that laid 2 blue specked eggs in my garden. I saw them there 2 weeks ago. But when I checked tofay the nest was completely empty. No egg shells, no sign of another animal breaking in. I would have saw if the eggs hatched and they flew away but they didn’t hatch. I also didn’t see nay other birds besides the parents come in.

    What happened?

    1. I have no idea what happened but it is perfectly feasible that the birds hatched and left the nest without you having seen them. How do you know they did not hatch? Sounds like they did; at least that makes the most sense.

      1. Hello,

        I know they didn’t hatch because I go out into the garden every day to water the plants. If I wear stand on my porch I can see into the nest, if they hatched you would be able to see the tops of their heads. There was also no chirping and the parents never brought food back.

  68. I have two budgies one adult male and younger female now i want to introduce another pair. How should i pick that pair like younger male and female or younger male and adult female ?

  69. Hello Dr. Lederer, sorry if this may seem like a strange question but I am a senior studying at the University of Minnesota and am currently taking a wildlife care and handling course. One project I have been tasked with is to create a facility profile and I got placed into birds and commercial. So in layman’s terms I have to create an imaginary business surrounding birds. However, the teacher wants it to be with a non-domesticated “wild” bird. Me not knowing much about birds took to the internet to do research, however, I was unable to find a concise answer on what a wild animal is in comparison to a domesticated bird (or even some examples of non-domesticated birds). If you could point me in the right direction I would be very grateful.

    1. MacKenzie, a wild bird is any bird that has not been caged and bred by humans on a regular basis. We use ducks, geese, and chickens for food, ducks and geese for feathers and down stuffing. We use pigeons, house sparrows, quail, and others as experimental animals. But there are many wild ducks, geese, pigeons, quail, and sparrows. There are no wild chickens as that is an animal we created, like the white rat. So, I’d say a wild animal is any species of animal that is not typically use in the service of humans. Like Blue Jays, the Common Loon, Blue Grouse, and thousands of others.

  70. Hi! I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. We have many migratory birds that travel through our area in Spring to go up north, and in the Fall to go south. One of them is the White Throated Sparrow. However, today as I’m sitting outside, I can hear the Ruby Crowned Kinglet is passing through, and some other familiar voices. I’m almost 100% sure I heard a White Throated Sparrow, however, it had a very quiet voice, had “voice-cracks” and ended the song well before it should’ve, sometimes starting the song mid-way through.

    Does this indicate that the bird has fallen ill?

    1. Sounds like you have a good ear for bird songs, but there are all kinds of possible reasons for a bird not to sing its full song, especially in the fall. It could be young, it could have have a genetic defect, it could have learned the wrong song, it could have a physical defect of the syrinx, or whatever. I suppose it could have fallen ill, but an incomplete song has several possible causes.

  71. Hi,
    I was hoping you’d be able to settle a debate amongst me and my friends able the species of bird depicted in a computer game.
    The main character of the “Untitled Goose Game” is supposedly, as the name would suggest, a goose however some members of the group claim the bird icon is actually closer to an American Pekin Duck or similar.
    Since the image is a rather simplistic depiction of the bird, what would be the clearest differences between the two that we’d be able to use to determine the species?
    If you’d be willing to take a look at the bird, you can see it here:
    While we realise this is a ridiculous debate to be having, it has gone on for some time so an expert opinion is the only resolution.
    Thank you for your time

    1. I’ve settled other silly debates over bird stuff, so let me settle this one. The icon is of course, a bit unrealistic, but all it all, it’s a goose. Geese are bigger , have longer necks and feet, and have shorter but thicker bills than ducks. The goose people win.

      1. Hi!

        Being the one who started the goose/duck war regarding our dear Bert (I did indeed name the goose), I would like to thank you for clearing this out and taking our stand. It will be used against the duck people.

        Kind regards,

  72. My lovebird and cockatiel have been caged together for quite a while and i have seen them trying or have been mating. I recently found 3 eggs and am unsure if they will be fertile. Please help?

  73. I live in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. I put seed out and have not seen one bird. I called a neighbor who, when I asked her if she had seen any and she said no. This has never happened, as whenever I out out seed they come in droves. Thoughts?

  74. I have a deranged female (yes, female) northern cardinal that will not stop attacking my windows. It started in early summer and has now continued into winter. It repeatedly flies into all the windows of our home dozens of times a day. Sometimes, it seems as though it follows us from room to room. I have searched for answers on the web, but everything I find suggests placing some sort of covering on the windows. I have no intention of covering all the windows in my home. What can I do to get this behavior to stop?

  75. Dr. Lederer, I’m currently copyediting a book on birds that is somewhat poorly assembled from a hodgepodge of sources. Among its many problems, it seems to be randomly missing wingspan stats on certain species, but now I see that the reason said stats are missing is because they cannot, for whatever reason, be easily found online. Would you be able to provide them? To wit, the average wingspans of: Deroptyus accipitrinus (Hawk-headedparrot), Crax alberti (Blue-billed curassow), Gallirallus owstoni (Guam rail), Bolborhynchus lineola (lineolated parakeet). I apologize for bothering you with such a banal question, but as you know, libraries are not particularly accessible at the moment. Many thanks!

  76. Hello! I have a question about hawks. I’ve had Cooper’s hawks on my property for the entire 19 years that I’ve lived here. Today, for the first time I spotted a red-shouldered hawk in a tree out back. Is either one territorial? Can they live peacefully in the same area? Just curious. Thank you!

    1. Yes, they are territorial but they don’t compete for the same food, so they will be able to coexist just fine. Territoriality is strongest between individuals of the same species, not so much between species.

  77. Victoria H. Schwartz

    I live in Atlanta, GA While walking my dog about a week ago, I saw about 20 black birds gathered on the wires and trees. They were about the size of crows. I saw a small bit of red peeping out from underneath a wing (not on the shoulders like red-winged blackbirds). When they took flight and flew above me, I could see that the underside of the bird was completely red, a true dark red, not orangy at all. I have tried to identify them, but no success. Can you help?

  78. Hi!
    I live on the Isle of Skye in Scotland in a house in the middle of a croft, so the nearest house is about 200 metres away.
    For the last week or so, there’s been a few occasions where the (I assume) same crow has been “attacking” our front door, for lack of a better word.
    We hear a loud banging that sounds like it’s shaking the walls, hear a couple caws, then if you open the front door, which is shaking from the force, you see the crow fly away.
    I tried looking this behaviour up, but all I could find was about crows attacking windows, as though attacking their own reflection. Our front door has no windows.
    I’ve seen and heard a crow hanging around our house for years, but it’s never done something like this.
    What could be the cause?

  79. Hi, Dr. Lederer. Do birds eat rose of sharon seeds (Hibiscus syriacus)? I read last summer that they do, so I didn’t remove the seed capsules in the fall, as I have in the past. Now there are hundreds of dried, open capsules on the plants, each with half a dozen or more fuzzy seeds, but I’ve never seen a bird eating them, either on the plants, or on the ground where they might have fallen. There are lots of seed-eating birds around; I often see cardinals and other birds eating seeds on my burning bush. But they ignore the rose of sharons, just a few feet away.

  80. I noticed a hummingbird sitting on perch near my feeder. Between sips of “nectar” it will just relax and occasionally stick out it’s tongue like a snake does. Why do hummingbirds do that?

  81. I live in a small Michigan city and feed the birds sunflower seeds.
    Lately, even though it’s been cold and snow covers the ground,
    I rarely see any birds at the feeder.
    Maybe a week ago I saw a small hawk in our tree. Could it have scared
    off the birds?… Would such a scare keep them in hiding for days?

  82. Bluebird Behavior
    We have a male bluebird that shows up at our back door (storm door). He sits on the sill of the window and flutters up then lands back on the sill. He does this multiple times during several bouts a day, particularly during mid-morning hours (door faces NW), and sometimes will fly up to sit on the top of the pergola in between bouts at the door. This started last spring and we’d see him several days each week. He then mostly disappeared over the summer, but then returned a couple of times in the fall and is now back on a pretty regular basis in the mid-morning hours. Any idea of why he is so interested in our back door? We thought that maybe he was attracted to a reflection, but there isn’t a very apparent one during these hours. He also does not show any interest in insects/beetles that get trapped in the sill. It was a strange occurrence last spring and has now become baffling as he has returned nearly a year later.
    Thank you for any insight you might have.
    Wilmington, NC

    1. This is very common behavior for male bluebirds. He sees his reflection, thinks it is a competitor and tries to chase him off. Robins, cardinals, wrens and others do the same thing on house windows, car windows, side-view mirrors, etc. Want him to stop? Eliminate the reflection.

    I saw a bird perched on a tree branch outside my window. I thought it wise to take a picture, then a video coz it wasn’t anything like the usual sparrow. I noticed its eye “lit up” like that of dogs/cats in the dark. Didn’t see its eye “light up” the entire time though. Soon another similar bird flew near the branch. It didnt have the same eye that “lit up” like the other bird. Is this normal?

  84. Hi there, I live in Chicago, and last October (2020) and also recently (March 2021) I have noticed flocks of large birds flying overhead. They have been too high up to identify clearly, but I heard them making a distinct “krrrrrrr” type trilling sound. Doesn’t sound like a Canada goose, and they weren’t in the typical V-formation. Never noticed it before recently. Might it have been flocks of Brant geese? If so, is it common for them to migrate over the Chicago area? Or might it have been a different kind of bird?

  85. Hi, I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania. On our way to church last week I noticed a large dead bird hanging from the power lines. It was a really odd sight and I was curious about how it happened. I couldn’t quite tell what it was, but I could tell it had long legs which were dangling straight down. A friend suggested that Raptors sometimes will dig their claws into a power line and electrocute themselves. But because of its legs I just wasn’t convinced it was a raptor. There were no power lines above it and it wasn’t near a pole or anything. I was able to get a picture, not sure how to send it though!

  86. If the dead bird you saw hanging from the power line is large or tall enough, it may have bridged the gap between the power line and a ground wire. Very often a protective ground wire will run above power lines to act as a lighting rod.

  87. Today in San Diego at about 5pm, I heard birds squawking loudly. Looked up and saw one standing or sitting on a very tall light post (maybe equivalent of 3 stories). Another that looked just like it (black and a little larger than a pigeon) was swooping down repeatedly and either hitting the bird on light post or coming close to it. It then would swoop up rather dramatically in an arc, turn and fly back, again either hitting or coming quite near the sitting bird, then fly upwards in the other direction and repeat. After I stopped to watch, it happened about 20 times. Each time it actually hit the sitting bird, that bird would squawk and jump up. Finally became hard to tilt my head straight up, so I walked further away. After I did, the flying bird was gone. Then after a few seconds, the standing bird flew away too. Any thoughts about why all this may have occurred? I’ve never seen something like this in my 30 years in San Diego. I couldn’t see a nest on top of the light. The light was in a grocery store parking lot near the coast. Wonder if the flying bird was encouraging the standing one to follow them/join their group.

    1. Sounds very much like a hawk or owl or vulture or raven was sitting on top of the post and being harrassed by another bird – crow or blackbird. THis often happens when a predator perches in or near the territory of another bird. It’s actually a very common phenomenon.

  88. I live in Oak Park, CA, just west of Los Angeles. For about a year and 1/2, I have kept a hummingbird feeder on our patio, refilling the mason jar sized feeder maybe every few weeks at most.
    Within the last month or so (April 2021), the rate of consumption has skyrocketed to a refill about every 48 hours.
    Is this a seasonal thing we didn’t notice last year or has the local hummingbird population likely increased and need more to eat?
    I don’t mind refilling it, but I’d like a projection on whether this is permanent or there’s an endpoint.

  89. Sir, If a human touch a baby Dove the his parents Dove will leave him forever or not… Actually I face this, on my roof a Dove give 2 eggs, when the baby dove were growing one of baby dove struck in my room. I take him gently with a towel and left him on roof again… But after that day I didn’t see that baby Dove again… Is it happen due to my touch. I am very sad that due to me this happen.

    1. It is not true that touching an egg or baby bird will casue the parents to abandon the nest. It is a myth. Who knows what happened to your baby dove, but it is not because you touched him.

  90. Do corvids recognize more than faces? I have read about the Seattle experiments with masks, although it seems odd to me that the subjects would focus on the face, irrelevant to the body. I regularly feed crows, occasionally wearing my COVID mask and they seem to remember me. Thanks for your time!

  91. I saw a bird that looked like a Song Sparrow, but with a peaked crown. Initially I identified it as a Lincoln’s Sparrow since the peaked crown shows up in the ID guide for them, but now I think it was truly just a Song. That got me wondering – when and why do sparrows (or birds generally) have peaked crowns? Is it something they control? Thank you!

    1. There are birds with permanent crests like titmice and cardinals and a number like sparrows and flycatchers and others that can raise their crest a bit when excited. Yes, they control the crest raising.

  92. For the past several weeks, we have had a robin repeatedly bang into our windows. It appears to hit the window feet-first (or is it talon-first?). It hits the window, then 20 second or so later, it will do it again…and again…and again. It does this on different windows…some downstairs, some upstairs. It usually happens mornings and late afternoons, but not midday or night. We’ve tried to scare it away by making noises or movement inside the house.. That only works for awhile. We’ve tried taping up newspapers on the windows. We’ve raised the blinds, and lowered the blinds. It still comes back regardless. What is this behavior all about, and what can we do to stop it?

  93. I ran into a post about the South Philippine Kingfisher, and noticed that its feet looked unusual. It appeared to have 2 partially fused toes in the front and a single back toe. I couldn’t find any resources about this foot arrangement, nor other species with this type of foot. The closest I could find were other Kingfisher species, but the South Philippine Kingfisher appears to not have the “pointer” toe. I was curious if this could be an error, or if there is a special evolutionary reason for this.

    1. There is a research paper explaining toe count in detail you may wish to consult: Feeding behavior, toe count, and the phylogenetic relationships among alcedinine kingfishers (Alcedininae). The toes in Coraciiformes is to assist in digging tunnels in stream banks.

  94. I have what looks like pair of Berwick’s Wrens nesting on my patio, with tiny chicks. My problem is the sound it makes is nothing like the melodious songs when I check sites with their sound. The sound they make, or one makes, is more like a squawk than a song, with no song-like quality. Can it be another wren even though the markings are identical to the Berwick’s? Thanks!

    1. All songbirds, including Bewick’s Wrens have a repertoire of calls and songs. They also have shortened versions of their songs and regional accents, just like humans. So if the markings are identical to Bewick’s Wrens, that’s what they are. By the way, it is Bewick, not Berwick.

      1. Thanks Dr. Lederer. Coincidently, for the first time since they arrived on my patio few weeks ago, I actually heard one chirping with a more musical call. Never happened before. BTW, this is the second year they set up housekeeping on m y patio, in the same nest.

        1. I’m finally hearing the cheery call of the northern (aka Baltimore) oriole this spring.
          Is it true that each male has its own unique note sequence?… Is this true of any other species?

  95. Hello!

    My wife and I received a fern for our balcony that we didn’t want, there’s no room for it. We put it out there and went out of town for a week, when we came back there was a bird’s nest in our fern with 5 eggs in it. We really don’t want the fern, the bird or the babies on our tiny balcony, so we would like to get rid of them, but don’t want to hurt the bird or the eggs incidentally. My wife thinks if we move the fern the mother bird will disown the eggs, but we know a combined nothing about birds.

    Do you have any advice on how we can handle this? We really don’t want them, but don’t want to hurt them either.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Baby birds are fun to watch and really aren’t there for long. A few weeks at the most. Enjoy them and then you can get rid of the fern?

  96. Hi there I have what I think is a California Gnatcatcher that’s nested inside of a plant pot hanging outside my house. This is fine but I’m slightly concerned about how the babies will get out. There are two pieces, one is the hanging holder and the other is the pot with the pant in it. There is a gap underneath the plant where the babies are. The mom appears to get in and out without issue but I’m wondering how the babies are going to get out, will they learn to fly out the small hole their parents are able to get in and out of?

    Here is a photo so you can see where they’ve nested:

  97. Living in Texas and have had Bewick’s wrens nesting successfully the last 4 years. Today a nestling appeared, larger than both parents together. The parents were feeding it until it fledged. Once out both parents attacked! They then continued to visit the empty birdhouse. There are cowbirds around and this baby was NOT a petite Bewick’s wren. Confusing.

  98. i live in London, where ring-necked parakeets are common. They are very noisy birds and spend a lot of time flying around very quickly. I was wondering: what is the evolutionary merit of this behaviour? I would have thought that this seemingly-random bursts of flight would burn up energy with limited benefits?


  99. Hi! We have a chicken that appeared one day with babies. Yet we have no rooster. We do have a guinea though. It actually doesn’t belong to us it just showed up one day and never left. I have been doing research and it seems that these two birds can breed. However most sites say a male Guinea can not fertilize a female chickens eggs without artificial insemination. Is this true? The babies look just like the guinea, but are the color of the mother.

  100. I live in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Two weeks ago tornados touched down nearby. Since then all the goldfinches, house wrens and ground feeders have disappeared from my feeders. I cleaned and scrubbed them to rid the damp seeds but all the birds have gone. They have disappeared from all my neighbors feeders also. Any idea what’s happened, and how can I get them to return?

  101. Hello there!
    My question is simple. I’ve seen two nights in a row a black mass flying in V formation at almost the exact time 12:18 p.m. Are there any type of birds who would fly in V formation, at night, without making any sound and do it at roughly the exact time two nights in a row?

    You know what I’m hinting at, right?
    I don’t want to tell this story and it turns out it was a flock of somethings flying about.

    Thank you.
    Sincerely, not crazy.

  102. Hi dr. Lederer,

    In our appartement complex in the Netherlands we have a few couples of Rock Pigeons as frequent visitors, as they call our building their homes as much as we do. Now I really long for (and aim at) a peaceful coexistence with animals as a whole. The problem is the poop they leave about anywhere on our balcony’s, and in a lesser extend the breeding, because, well, that will of course sustain the issue.

    Nobody in our building is feeding them as far as I can say, but we live in a neighbourhood with plenty of food (scraps) foor them. We examined a lot of options to limit the poop nuisance but without succes so far.

    A pest control agency shared options like killing the pigeons (in a humane way, but still, killing them), hire a falconer or take preventative measures to keep them from the balcony’s, like tension wires or span huge nets over the facade of our building.

    Our municipality commented the possibility to create a dovecote, but it’s really (too) expensive, because of the maintenance. Apart from that I don’t know if the pigeons are willing to move from their ‘house’ (my balcony) to their new living facility (somewhere near).

    To sum it all up: nobody seems to have a good sustainable solution to peacefully coexist with these pigeons. Is it a myth to expect the benefits without the burdens?

    Thanks for your time,

  103. Hi, I rescued a canary a couple of months ago, and I have been rehabilitating him. I was wondering if it is possible to harness/leash train him?

      1. I’ve never had a canary before. I take my cockatiels out to enjoy the garden, and I was curious to know if I could do the same with him.

  104. Hello from Greece Dr Lederer.

    I have a blackbird 9 months now , I found it when it was a baby with a broken wing so i raised him/her till now cause it can not fly ..
    I name it Zacharia but stil I don’t know if is male or female .. I read at some websites that till the first year the juveniles are like the females ..
    Here are some photos

    So I wanted to ask if we can see at this age what sex might be … I have to add also that it sings a lot but very very quietly like it is trying to learn how to sing ..

  105. Hello sir..would you happen to know what this bird is…i dont have a clear video or photo as it has been quick and jumpy. It has been knocking on my window and flying off for the past 2 days. Its a tiny black bird with bright orange legs and bright orange beak that almost looks like parrot beak. I am curious as i have never seen this type of bird before, i have a bunch of colorful ones around my home garden. I am new here, how do i attach the video(i feel the video is clear enough to make out what the bird looks like)?
    Thank you and hope you repond.

  106. Hi Dr. Lederer,

    I was wondering if there is a distinct difference between a chrip and a honk? Do they serve different purposes? Why do some birds chrip and some honk?

    Thank you for any insight!

    1. I’m sure there are differences but lots of birds make chirping sounds or honking sounds or hundreds of other sounds that humans try to describe. I can’t tell you what the difference is as I can’t hear the exact sounds you are referring to or what birds they belong to.

  107. Hi! I’m reading a book from 1836 and the author mentions these birds: “Lestris Richardsoni” and “L. Parasiticus” – I think the latter is an Arctic Jaeger (?), but does anyone know the real name of Lestris Richardsoni?
    Thanks : )

  108. Hi! Dr.Roger Lederer I have some question about birds I would be very thankful if you could answer me.

    Does a bird get affected by Chlorine? If yes , how does it affect the bird?
    What are some ways to scare birds away most effectively?
    What are some things that attract birds to the pool?
    What are pigeon predators?
    What are some bird predator sounds that birds try to avoid?

  109. cecilia campbell

    Last year from March to August, we had the same robin hanging around our yard. We knew it was the same robin because it had a white head. (Luceism, I think it is called?). It was ever present and became a friend – we were sad to see it go. Recently a robin with a white head showed back up again!! Could it be the same robin from last year, or simply an offspring? The whiteness is a little different – it looks like it has expanded. I’d love to know your thoughts.
    Cecilia Campbell
    Ithaca, NY

  110. I have a blue bird that keep flying into our window. I look up this bird online and the closest name that pop ups is an eastern blue bird (I live in Northern California). We did put up one of those blue bird boxes but this poor bird still keep flying into our window. It’s not a full on flight into the window though, he hovers and taps at it really hard. How do I help this bird? I can sent pics and a vid if needed. I just don’t want this bird injuring itself.

  111. My parents have a potted plant on our front porch, today we just found out that some quail have been nesting there.

    FIrst Concern: The water has not been turned on yet due to cold nights. We don’t want to get the eggs wet but we also don’t want the plants to die. If the plants die, it will most likely ruin the cover over the nests.

    Second Concern: The plant is right by the front steps to our front door. We scare the quail away almost every time we enter the house. We thought about moving the potted plant a few inches a day into a more isolated area so that we don’t bother them. We are afraid that they will not return if we do this.

    Third Concern: We have a lot of predators. We have blue jays, snakes, stray cats. We have thought putting up netting so the quail are safe, but again are worried that we would make the quail leave.

    Please take the time answer back. I am open to better ideas or suggestions.

    1. I’m sure you can water the plant without wetting the eggs if you just use a small container to pour it from. Yes, moving the pot a few inches a day is a good idea. Don’t put up netting – it might do more harm than good. Young will hatch in 16-20 days and all the birds will leave. Thanks for your concern.

  112. Hello,

    I saw a bird in my backyard recently and I’m not sure what it is. Would it be possible for me to send you a picture of it? Thanks!

  113. Happy Birthday, John James Audubon, April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851
    “American self-trained artist, naturalist, and ornithologist. His combined interests in art and ornithology turned into a plan to make a complete pictorial record of all the bird species of North America.” – Wikipedia

  114. i have a morning dove on my porch sitting in a nest i made for her. she has a mate but has been sitting on the nest for a month now. what should i do as i am sure the eggs are not good. she has never left the nest but her mate gets food and brings it back to her. they both sleep in the basket at night. please help me.

  115. I have noticed a behavior among crows in our backyard. They crouch down and preen in an area that has a very high density of anthills. My theory is that they are allowing the ants to crawl into their feathers and then they clean themselves out for a meal Is this true?

    1. They are not eating the ants. They allow the ants to crawl on them and then the birds crush the ants, releasing formic acid which serves as a sort of pesticide to deter lice and mites. THe behavior is called anting.

  116. We had a pair of robins build a nest on a light on our deck. It took maybe a week or more to build. She only laid 3 eggs. About a week ago, 2 eggs hatched but the third did not. Then we noticed that both babies disappeared. I’m afraid something must have gotten them. We took the nest down thinking they would be done with it. Today two robins are working very hard to build the nest again. They only just started today and it looks nearly finished! Could it be the same pair since the first was unsuccessful? And could our looking in once in awhile (always when the Mama is gone) draw predators?

  117. Good Afternoon Dr. Lederer!

    Could you let me know the highest temperature a pigeon or turtle dove has been known to get to (even when it is sick, how high might its temperature go)?
    Thank you so much!

  118. Hello,
    We live in Arizona, outskirts of Phoenix area, by the mountain in a desert environment where lots of wild life around and we coexist here.
    About 10 days ago, we discovered there was a Dove hiding in one of the large pots of Fern on our front porch, as she flew out when we were sweeping around it.
    Then, we saw 8 quail eggs in the pot where she must’ve been hiding…

    We see all kinds of birds around, but as our front porch is higher from the ground level with 8 steps up (3.5+ feet), we’ve never seen any quail up on the porch, so we have no idea how those eggs have gotten there in the first place…

    We see the Dove leave and back sitting on them as often when we walk by it, we can’t see the eggs – meaning she is on top of them.

    We are concerned that what’ll happen when they hatch…
    The pot is almost 20″ high, it’s located near the corner of the CLIFF…
    How are they going to come out/down from the pot?
    And as Dove usually gets 2 eggs and raises chicks until they can fly away, quail chicks usually start running around the ground with their parents…

    Is there anything we could help them to be rescued by another quail family (we read they adopt other quail well) which we see them everywhere on the ground?

    We hope there is something we could do to help them. ?

    1. If I understand correctly, a dove is sitting on quail eggs? If that’s the case, the quail abandoned the eggs but depending on when she abandoned them, they may or may not be any good. But in the case they do hatch, contact a quail breeder or a wildlife rehab center and give them the chicks. If the quail hatch, they can safely fall the 20 feet. It’s not likely that you’ll find another quail family to adopt them. Give them to people experienced with baby quail.

  119. In our apartment complex there are nests throughout, we have 3 floors and it is very open. The one opening(like a big window with no glass) is a large size and at the top of it there is a nest we always walk past. Recently the eggs have hatched and the little birds have now become fledglings, just today we found two of them on the ground. They are fine and after some research(please correct me if I am wrong) I saw that once they leave the nest as fledglings to just leave them be. Our only concern is that they are on the 2nd floor stairwell and don’t really have any cover or place to go, the nest is above them(about. 15 ft) and the mom seems to know they are there(maybe) but just wondering if there is anything we can do to help them or should we just leave it alone. Thank you.

      1. thank you was just worried about them being fed, haven’t seen the mom around much. Makes us feel better to get that direct info.

  120. Do carolina wrens ever travel together? Although I couldn’t see them (it was about June 14th), I heard them exchanging their distinctive “teacher-teacher-teacher” call. I ask because I live in the Michigan thumb region where I’ve rarely seen them.

  121. Hi, I from Malaysia, and there’s a bird nest with eggs in it on a short little tree growing in a drain at the back of my house and the nest is slightly above head-level. I’m pretty sure it’s a yellow-vented bulbul and it managed to lay 2 eggs. The problem: the safety of the mother and eggs have been threatened by my 2 cats. My cats have been eyeing the spot where the nest is whenever the mom lands, and there have been multiple attempts of them trying to climb it to get to her. Keep in mind this isn’t an ordinary tree, it’s a flimsy non-woody stem tree growing from sewage water, and it’s leaves are dropping frequently so there isn’t much cover for the nest. I’m afraid that either the nest will drop from the tree the next few times they climb it or the babies are gonna get eaten when they hatch. What do I do? Should I relocate it? Should I shelter the eggs somewhere? Is there an organization to call? I really really hope the momma and her kids can live happily so please advise 🙂

  122. Dear Dr. Lederer,

    My question has to do with woodpeckers. I live in Southern California (inland, about 30 miles north of San Diego).
    We have two large liquidambar trees, one of which seems to be on its last legs. We have decided that it needs to be removed.
    A family of woodpeckers seems to have settled in our front yard and are quite active in the dying tree. We’ve seen holes that suggest nesting. While I love watching them and think they’re beautiful birds, I do have a couple of concerns:

    First, does the presence of woodpeckers suggest that the tree is unhealthy?

    Second, I really don’t want to harm any eggs or fledglings. How do we determine when is a good time to cut down the tree?

    Thank you.

    1. Late fall is the best time to make sure no birds are nesting. No , woodpeckers pecking doesn’t have much to do with the health of a tree. They often prefer dead trees but that’s because the holes are easier to make.

  123. Hello!
    I live in Lewisham, London and have just realised our swallows have gone! Haven’t heard them for a few days now. But it’s only the beginning of August, too early for them to migrate, where have they gone?!
    Many thanks

  124. I have a question about mourning doves. I see no place to post a new question. There are only buttons with’reply’ on them.

    I don’t want to butt in where I am not supposed to.

    I will risk it and apologise if I am posting my question in the wrong place. Thank you so much Dr Lederer, for answering our ornithology questions, taking your valuable time! Thank you.

    My question is : I read that mourning doves will eat black oil sunflower seeds, but being unable to crack them, will eat them whole. Is this a good thing? Can they digest the hulls? I have just put a liberal amount of these seeds on the ground around our feeders, but am hoping I did not do anything which may not be good for these lovely birds. Thank you in advance

    1. It’s fine to pose a question here.
      Mourning Doves will eat black oil sunflower seeds. Depending on the thickness of the shell, they may or may not crack them open. But they can eat the seeds whole and their digestive system (the gizzard) will crack open and digest the seeds. They will defecate the parts they don’t digest. Perfectly ok.

      1. Thank you so much for your kind response. I am so happy to have found this place to ask my question. I love the birds and have been so grateful over the years to enjoy their presence, both as a bird watcher and ‘backyard welcoming habitat creator’ ( on a very very small scale.). Thank you again for making your expertise available. This is such a small matter, but It sets my mind at ease that I am caring for the birds the way they should be cared for.
        I am very grateful, indeed!
        Best wishes,

  125. Do cardinal beaks turn red from black because of the intake of carotenoids – like with their feathers? Also, is there a biological system that inhibits females from absorbing carotenoids so their feathers stay muted, or is that because they have a different diet and do not eat high carotenoid food?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Sexual differences in birds of the same species are coded by the sex chromosomes, as in humans. Men grow beards and have deep voices, females have no beards and have higher voices. Both eat the same diet. Same with color in cardinal beaks and feathers. Both male and female cardinals ingest carotenoids but their sex chromosomes treat them differently.

  126. What type of bird is a blue grey color with front facing eyes long skinny neck polish chicken like feathers on its head and long chicken like legs almost like a little ostrich that can fly

  127. Hi I saw these three crows on my fence one was laying down pretty much flopped over the side and two where standing beside pecking at it I went to go get some gloves and when I came back they where gone I don’t know if the other birds carried the seemingly injured one away or if it went on its own I went on a walk and looked around but I couldn’t find the hurt one I don’t know if it was hurt or they where mating or if they where doing a stance of dominance or something do you know what was happening?

  128. Hello! I live in the suburbs in Midwestern USA.

    I have semi-regularly heard the “hoo hoo hoo” of a great horned owl from my bedroom windows for around a decade now. I think it lives in my neighborhood, as the nearest forest is a bit far. For a long time, I assumed there was just one living nearby, but I think the owl found a mate last year as I sometimes hear owl noises from two different directions.

    Anyway, my question: I’m quite fond of this owl despite never having seen it. Is it safe to assume it’s been the same owl all this time? Will I be able to tell when it’s gone because the hooting will stop, or will a new owl quickly replace it?

  129. Hello!
    My bird is sick, he eats, drinks and flies but he is hivering and fluffing his feathers. When he stands, he lowers his wings down, raises his tail up, and bends his head forward slightly. He always closes his eyes. He sleeps a lot, but turns around and is not comfortable in his sleep. I noticed that his appetite is high, but he eats with little difficulty, and that when he finds his brother eating from something, he approaches his mouth and tries to eat from it. Please I need help, I wented to more than one doctor but without avail. He’s been like this since Thursday.

  130. I just heard a bird noise that sounded like one of those tube sound maker toys that makes like a whoooo sound when you turn it. What kind of bird could it be?

  131. Hello, I live in Southeastern Pennsylvania and last year around this time I started having a bird repeatedly fly into the bay window at my house throughout the day. I’m not sure what kind of bird it is but it is small and brown with an orange beak. It eventually left around mid Summer or early Fall I think, but then came back this year a few weeks ago.

    It will continuously fly into the window until someone walks over into the room and it flies away, but then it will start doing it again shortly after. This goes on all day starting early in the morning and has gotten very annoying. Is there a reason for it doing this, and is there any way I can make it stop or go away?

    1. I live in the same area as you and my parents had this happen with a female cardinal. They think it’s another bird in their territory and are trying to chase it off. You could put window clings on it to cut down on the reflection. Also don’t have birdfeeders too near windows.

  132. We saw this bird by the water dish I leave out for the birds, never seen one like it before. Its smaller than a crow
    but bigger than a robin. Black body turning to spotted black and white from shoulder to its crown.
    I can send the one photo I managed to capture…..

      1. Another Ornithologist replied, saying it was a white headed Gackle, and I googled them up and it seems
        that they are not that rare…. I live about 15 miles from Georgian Bay Ontario……

  133. I saw a small bird that had a red-brown chest, brown grey feathers on top, a few white feathers under its beak, around its eyes and underbelly. It had a long yellow beak that looked pointed at the end, and s small black stripe on top of its beak. I’m not 100% sure what it was and I’m really curious.

  134. Why does a Robin red Breast keep flying into glass panes of my dining room door? It leaves marks on the glass. What can I do to stop it? Thank you.

  135. I have been taking care of an orphaned baby Carolina Chickadee since my local bird sanctuary refused to take him. He has been in my care for 13 days. He was only a couple of days old at most when I found him in the parking lot at work. So far, he is very healthy, happy, and energetic. I am weaning him off of hand feeding which he is dealing with well. My only issue is that he has lost an entire wing of primary feathers, and the other wing is missing a few primary feathers. He was flying when he shed all the pin feathers, but now without a wing of primaries, he cannot fly. I was hoping to release him this weekend, however I can’t in good conscience let him go yet. He still has some down feathers on him and he seems like a late bloomer (was probably the runt which is why he was abandoned). Is this a normal molting process that he is going through or do I need to seek emergency help for him? He is fine otherwise, and he is only showing symptoms of molting as far as I can tell- but I am no professional or expert. I grew up with Cockatiels when I was younger so wild birds are a whole different world.

  136. Baby House Finch Birds

    Baby birds flew away this morning.

    I’ve had some baby birds (their mom is a House Finch) for two years now in a nest by my side door. I hadn’t seen their mom this morning but I heard them tweeting and saw them shaking their wings and standing at the edge of the nest.

    I’m really worried that I scared them out of their nest when I came outside to add some crushed berries to my feeder.

    I watched them fly to a nearby fence and fly back and forth to another fence. It looks like their mom was there as well and seemed to scoot over and say hi.

    They’ve also stopped by the feeder that hangs directly below the nest and appeared to have some water and birdseed.

    Do you think they were just ready to fly? I feel terrible.

    I took a photo 27 days ago and they already had fur on them.

  137. Good day, I have a report about kingfishers and particularly about their physiological disorders. I can’t find articles or cases regarding kingfisher ailments or disorders so instead I am aiming for the general ones. I do really need an expert now so can you help and provide me general physiological disorders occuring on wild birds that are similar to kingfishers especially those with similar habitat, lifestyle, and metabolism. I am aiming for the diseases and metabolic disorders caused pH, chemical/metal toxication, temperature, nutrition, etc. But excluding diseases due to infections. Your help will be really appreciated, thank you.

  138. Good afternoon,

    I have birdhouse on my garage wall and just noticed blue tit start bringing stuff for nesting into it. Really pleased about but I need to replace garage doors and concerned noise of work (need to cut bricks to open up wall) would scare them away. Can someone advise if these birds would be affected by short term (1 hour) noise around 5m away from the bird house?

  139. Hi, This is creeping me out a little and I wanted to know if this could be “normal.” Our garage door broke and before we could fix it we got mourning doves that built a nest, we saw and heard the pair frequently, and eventually they laid 2 eggs. We had to fix the garage and were prepared to keep it open until they were done and the eggs hatched and left the nest etc. The builder noise seems to have scared them away as we haven’t seen them in probably 5 days and the eggs haven’t changed/moved positions in the nest. Well tonight, I went to check one last time if maybe Mom was back or if the eggs might have moved a little indicating someone had returned. The nest was gone. The nest was high up on a wire shelf near the ceiling. HOWEVER, the eggs were still there. They were on the wire shelf, in tact. No nest. Like the nest just disappeared into thin air, but the eggs were still up there. Do birds ever remove their nests or reclaim building materials? Haven’t seen or heard the birds in days and I thought maybe predator, but wouldn’t the eggs be gone, not the nest?

  140. I’ve been observing a robin’s nesting behavior, outside my window in Minnesota.
    Today, marks 13 days of incubation and I believe she may have hatched her eggs…
    At one point today, I saw the mom, with her head and beak pointed down and her head “vibrated” back and
    forth quickly, like a paint shaking machine!
    Could she have been shaking loose shell fragments for a hatching egg our might this behavior induce her to
    regurgitate a meal for the freshly hatched babies?

    Thank you for your website, as it’s very informative and interesting.

  141. why would a bird only attack one specific person (me)?

    this one red-winged blackbird has dive bombed and stolen strands of my hair for the 4th time in a row. Googling the bird, it seems like that’s a common occurrence but my question is:

    I’ve seen multiple people walk twenty feet in front of me and not be bothered at all. but as soon as i pass the specific area, the bird will always come down to attack me.
    today, i thought i’d experiment. I sent my brother ahead of me twice and nothing happened to him. This random man walked in front of me and nothing happened to him. and then seconds later, i followed the man and without fail, the bird attacked me. after the first attack, i’ve been wearing hats so the bird can’t peck at my hair. is it possible for a bird to hold a grudge against a specific person?

    1. Well, not know what you look like, I can’t give you a definitive answer. There have been experiments and observations (on crows, mostly) which determined that crows can hold a grudge against someone who harassed them and will chase them rather than other people. I presume you haven’t harassed this bird?
      I find it odd that it actually stole strands of your hair. I have been in many many bird colonies and attacked by many birds, but not one has ever touched me, anyplace, head or body. It’s possible your hair or something else reminds the bird of a bad experience or your hair looks like great nesting material.
      Without observing the situation, those are my best guesses.

      1. Oh wow, I didn’t expect a response, especially this quickly! Thank you so much! It’s so interesting to hear what you have to say.

        I’ve never harassed this bird. I’ve never really even noticed it until this started happening and I was really scared since I’ve never had a bird attack me like that. It’s definitely pinched my hair out several times and even today, it flew into the back of my hood such that I could feel its wings flapping against me. I can’t imagine my thin, black hair would be good for building nests haha, so I wonder if the bird really has had a bad experience with someone who looks like me, or perhaps even my hat/coats. I’ll have to use my brother as a test subject again haha.

        Once again, thank you for your response!!

  142. Dr. Lederer,

    So nice to find your post! I have a question about some mockingbirds. I used to love hearing all their songs, but lately I have had a few that sit outside my window and just make constant high pitched calls, with no variance to length or tone. It is pretty difficult to work when I hear their constant whistles. The shrillness of the sound is sharp on the ears.

    First, I didn’t know Mockingbirds made a sound like that. In fact, I had to catch them doing it through my window to even identify them as mockingbirds.

    Second, is there a way to get them to stop doing it?


  143. Good morning.
    For the past three days I have found deceased baby birds in my driveway. I live in a trailer with no trees around. I have seen sparrows nesting in the tiny space under my roof. They have to poke through and alarmingly small hole to get to the nest. When I see babies on the ground, I am assuming that no other bird has yanked them out of the nest since no other ‘nest-invading bird’ could access it through such a tiny opening. Babies look to be about 2 weeks, based on their wing formation stage.
    How is it that these poor dead creatures continue to appear?
    Thanks for you time and info.

  144. 1. A migratory divide occurs when two populations
    A. migrate in opposite directions
    B. are separated between the northern and southern hemisphere
    C. have migration routes separated by physical or ecological barriers
    D. have different breeding grounds

    2. Population connectivity occurs when
    A. populations from different wintering grounds share breeding grounds
    B. populations remain together in mixed flocks during migration
    C. mated pairs migrate together
    D. northern and southern hemisphere populations overlap at the equator

    3. Migratory bird species represent about _______ percent of modern birds
    A. 30
    B. 40
    C. 60
    D. 70

    4. Evidence suggests that migratory behavior
    A. was inherited from the birds’ dinosaurian ancestors
    B. is mostly a learned behavior
    C. occurred in a single, common ancestor from which all migratory birds evolved
    D. none of the above

    5. The northern home and the southern home hypotheses for the origin of migration are different with respect to
    A. t