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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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White-throated sparrow. Photo by Shutterstock.

Can You Identify These Sparrows? Take Our ID Quiz!

Are you intimidated by sparrows? Do you take a quick look at one and write it off as an unidentifiable LBJ (little brown job)? If so, this quiz may calm your fears and help you learn to distinguish sparrow species. Or if you’re already skilled at sparrow ID, here’s a chance to test your mettle! Admittedly, sparrow ID can be tricky. Regional variation in species means that some sparrows shown here might look different from the same species in your neighborhood. All of the species included here are found widely across North America at some time of the year. Many of the species in this quiz breed in the North and winter in the South. Some of these sparrows are year-round residents where they occur.
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