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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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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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