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A beautiful snowy owl photographed during the Bird Watcher's Digest Reader Rendezvous in Sax Zim Bog, Minnesota. Photo by Peter Trueblood.

Snowy Owl Viewing: Observe Without Disturbing

Seeing a snowy owl is a rare privilege. Snowy owls are magnificent birds, and attract considerable attention when they visit the Lower 48 in winter. Enthusiastic observers and photographers should understand and remember that these birds may be stressed by hunger and long-distance travel. It is important to resist the temptation to get too close for a clearer look or better photograph.
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Red-winged blackbird by Jessica Ingram

Spring Birds: When Does Spring Migration Begin?

Bird watchers anticipate spring migration like kids anticipate Christmas. Looking forward to first-of-year species helps us make it through the bleak days of late winter. But when does spring migration actually start? For the past 35 years, I've lived and watched birds in the lower Midwest—southern Ohio and southern Indiana. If you live in New England, the Great Plains, the Rockies, the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, or the South, your spring birding experience will probably be quite different in terms of the species and/or timing of their return.
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Fall Warblers: Confusing or Not?

Depending upon where you live in North America, warbler migration has begun. Tennessee and Nashville warblers are among the early birds to head south, while bay-breasteds and others are relative laggards. Fall migration, unfortunately, isn’t heralded with the dawn chorus of spring; the birds are not helping us identify them with their distinctive songs. Even so, there are more warblers heading south each fall than head north each spring because of the addition of hatch-year birds who have not yet faced the perils of migration. The density of birds to be watched suggests better birding during fall than spring—until someone mentions “confusing fall warblers.” To a large extent, though, the challenge of fall warblers is hatch-year birds in juvenal plumage, which may or may not resemble their parents’ appearance. Here’s a quiz we hope will prepare you to enjoy fall warbler watching.
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