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Migratory Bird Center News

A close up photo of Scott Sillett, head of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
May. 05, 2020
This World Migratory Bird Day, May 9, I hope we see record engagement in birdwatching.
an oriole sitting on a branch appears to dissolve into the ether
May. 04, 2020
Migratory birds are now flooding across the continent as they return to their nesting grounds this spring. World Migratory Bird Day is on May 9, 2020, as people around the globe welcome birds back—...
Graphic text with a coffee cup and coffee beans: "your coffee is stronger than you think. save critical bird habitat, one cup at a time. #DrinkBirdFriendly"
Apr. 20, 2020
Join the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center online this World Migratory Bird Day, May 9, in a digital celebration of birds and simple actions you can take from home to help save them.
Two clouded leopard cubs with large paws and thick spotted fur rest together on a large tree limb
Dec. 26, 2019
As 2019 comes to a close, we’re continuing to reflect on some of this year’s biggest conservation success stories.
Adult Egyptian vulture with a yellow face and light brown plumage on its head and neck.
Sep. 20, 2019
Smithsonian scientists tracked Egyptian vultures through 44 countries across 70% of their range. They learned that vultures traveling from Western Europe had shorter, more direct routes to wintering...
Virginia Working Landscapes program director Amy Johnson holds an eastern meadowlark.
Jul. 19, 2019
At first glance, Virginia’s farmlands seem quite peaceful. But beneath the swaying fields of hay lies a bustling ecosystem for the birds that call the grasslands home. One such avian animal—the...
FMBC field researcher Emma Cox holds a small bird, called a black-and-white warbler, in her hand and prepares to release it after banding it.
May. 23, 2019
In April, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center spent two weeks in Texas for the second season of “Ecology of Urban Birds,” a program that brings middle school students into the field with...
A brightly colored bird perched on a thin branch. It has a yellow chest, red head and long, slender tail feather
Apr. 19, 2019
Humans have Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. Wire-tailed manakins have social networks, too. For more than 17 years, Smithsonian ornithologist Brandt Ryder has studied this bird's unique social...
Three versions of the Bird Friendly Coffee logo arranged from oldest on the left to newest on the right with arrows pointing from left to right
Feb. 06, 2019
The Smithsonian Bird Friendly® certification seal has evolved twice since the program began 20 years ago. The latest logo is a bold rectangle that features shady habitat, soaring songbirds and the...
Two bison -- large mammals with thick fur coats, rounded sharp horns, big heads and large shoulder humps -- walk through tall grass at sunset
Dec. 27, 2018
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is dedicated to saving species. Every year, its team of conservationists here and around the globe works hard to make that mission a...
A close-up photo of a green darner dragonfly in flight. It has large eyes, a long tail and a short, round body.
Dec. 19, 2018
A new paper describes a dragonfly’s full life cycle for the first time. Insects are a critical driver of food webs, so figuring out why their populations are falling dramatically is important for the...
Shade grown coffee plantation in Nicaragua
Nov. 30, 2018
As part of the Bird-Friendly Coffee initiative, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center ecologist Robert Rice and partners are gearing up to find out which trees in shade coffee farms supply the most food ...
A small bird with black, white and gray feathers, called a Carolina chickadee, holds a green caterpillar in its beak
Oct. 22, 2018
Insect-eating birds that depend on high-calorie, high-protein cuisine (namely caterpillars and spiders) to feed their young are finding the menu severely lacking in backyards landscaped with even a...
A small, gray-brown and white bird, called a Louisiana waterthrush, being held in a researcher's hand
Apr. 27, 2018
In March, a team of Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center scientists traveled to Texas to begin their annual study of birds that travel through the Gulf of Mexico.
Brown pelican sitting on nest in the Chesapeake Bay.
Apr. 20, 2018
Brown pelicans are a favorite of visitors to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s American Trail exhibit. Yet, many zoogoers may not realize that these marine birds call the Chesapeake Bay home. Last...
Apr. 12, 2018
SMBC Director Pete Marra is the recipient of the American Ornithological Society’s prestigious Elliott Coues Award in recognition of his outstanding and innovative ornithological research.
A dark gray bird with red eyes and an orange and black beak, called a snail kite, wearing a GPS satellite tracker on its back
Mar. 14, 2018
In November 2017, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center postdoctoral fellow Alex Jahn traveled to southern Brazil to study the migration of snail kites with Brazilian colleagues at Taim Ecological...
a flock of birds flies over beach waves
Nov. 22, 2017
With a new statistical tool from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, researchers can take data and better understand the strength of migratory connectivity—whether and when populations spread out...
Brown Pelican
Oct. 13, 2017
For the first time ever, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Migratory Bird Center has teamed up with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to track the migration of brown...
A gray catbird in a researchers hand. It has colored bands around its ankles.
Sep. 06, 2017
What happens when a migratory bird’s path lands it right in an urban area like Washington, D.C.? Can the city's parks support wild birds through the breeding season, and how do their behaviors change...
Island scrub-jay. Photo courtesy of Cameron Ghalambor.
Jul. 13, 2017
The island scrub-jay, a songbird endemic to Santa Cruz Island off the coast of southern California, has made headlines in recent years for bucking evolutionary and biological trends—and is at it...
Gray catbird. Photo courtesy of Dan Vickers.
Jun. 30, 2017
Fitted with a GPS device the weight of a paperclip, a gray catbird in the Washington, D.C., area flies south, unaware that the device records its every move. That data is key for conservation...
A painted bunting bird in someone's hand
May. 03, 2017
The period of a migratory bird’s annual cycle thought to be the most perilous—its twice-annual journeys over oceans and inhospitable landscapes—is also the least understood. A new collaborative study...
A student participates in a scavenger hunt.
Mar. 31, 2017
Where do migratory birds go when they head south for the winter? To find out, students in the United States are partnering with classmates in Latin America as part of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird...
a researcher releasing a bird on a beach
Jan. 01, 1997
When we think about birds migrating to the tropics, we often focus on nearby areas such as Mexico and the Caribbean. However, each fall, millions of songbirds migrate from North America to their...