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Male redhead duck photo by B. Thompson, III

The Federal Duck Stamp Makes Waves

What you likely know: The recent contest to select artwork for the 2022–2023 Federal Duck Stamp stirred late night laughs with a satirical painting of a duck hunting a human hunter. What you may not know: The Federal Duck Stamp serves as more than a conservation tool or a cool collector’s item. Did you know that a current duck stamp will grant you free access to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee? And, the stamp supports conservation efforts for birds beyond waterfowl.
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Chickadee nestling photo by Shutterstock.

What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird

Aside from being an author, artist, and columnist well-known to Bird Watcher's Digest and Watching Backyard Birds readers alike, Julie Zickefoose is also a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with a wealth of experience in caring for injured birds. If you encounter a nestling or fledgling outside the nest, learn how to assess if the bird is in danger—and whether it's wise to intervene—and if so, what to do.
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Believe it or not, this is a male cardinal. He's just missing his head feathers.

Cardinal Baldness: What Happened?

Soon after nesting season ends, many birds replace their feathers. Songbirds generally lose and regrow a few feathers at a time, so molt is hardly noticeable. But some birds, especially northern cardinals and blue jays, can lose all their head feathers at one time—a catastrophic molt. Not all cardinals or blue jays do this, but a significant number do, and it’s considered healthy and normal.
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White-throated Sparrow (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Spotlight on Sparrows: Test Your Knowledge!

To some, sparrows may seem insignificant—a group of mostly small, mostly brown, superficially similar songbirds. Even those of us who love birds may be tempted to brush sparrows off as "little brown jobs." But the truth is that there are several dozen sparrow species in North America alone, and each is unique with something special to offer. As the weather continues to turn colder, many types of sparrows are moving south, showing up in weedy fields, along woodland edges, and at backyard feeders across the country. How much do you know about this ubiquitous group of birds? Take our quiz!
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