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Birds: Stories and Lore

Here is a sampling of a few of Diane Porter's articles about birds and birding. Most have previously appeared in magazines, as noted in each story.

White-breasted Nuthatch Feathered Fire
Feathered in stone-cold black, grey, and white, the white-breasted nuthatch is a ball of metabolic fire. Its furious metabolism allows it to survive outdoors through the freezing night of a northern winter.
Great Crested Flycatcher Soft-hearted Tree
Great crested flycatchers nest in the hollows that woodpeckers have excavated in dead or dying tree. Read about it in "The Secret Life of the Soft-hearted Tree."
Sharp-shinned Hawk The Eye of the Sharpie
Sharp-shinned hawks don't eat carrots. The author comes to terms with a sharpie hunting small birds at her feeder.
House Wren House Wrens Do Yard Work
This cover story for Bird Watcher's Digest, July, 2005, profiles the cocky, prolific house wren. It also tells how a family of wrens make good brocolli.
Bell's Vireo Spectrogram The Singing Life
"Looking Deeper into Bird Songs" is the story of how one birdwatcher discovered a whole new level of listening to music of birds.
Tufted Titmouse Tough Titmouse
One morning last year, a certain titmouse began a quarrel with my living room window. It went on for nearly a year. His saga reveals something about the social structure of the tufted titmouse.
Eastern Bluebird Bluebirds Love Mealworms
They're crazy about them. The author offered mealworms on top of the birdhouse, and a few days later the bluebirds were nesting there. Here's a story of communication between bird and woman.
American Robin The Calculus of Spring
At a certain moment in March, spring will arrive. Few events in life are so satisfyingly mathematical. But by my reckoning as an Iowan, spring begins with the first song of an American robin.
Red-bellied Woodpecker Storm of Woodpeckers
Red-bellied Woodpeckers enjoy the abundance of the oak grove and face its hazards as they raise their young. Here is the story of one nest in one grove in one spring.
Killdeer The Precocious Killdeer
Some birds hatch with their running shoes on. Seeing baby killdeer is one of the keenest pleasures of summer. Here's how to find them by watching the behavior of the adults.
European Robin What Good Is a Life List?
Many birders note down the date and place each time they spot a species for the first time. The list becomes a chronicle of one's life. Here the European robin embodies a girlhood hitchhiking trip in England.
Indigo bunting Stars of Navigation
Indigo buntings, like many other birds, migrate at night, navigating by the stars. How do they learn to do that? We may never know the whole mystery, but here is part of the answer.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Jewel Birds Here's a little something about ruby-throated hummingbirds, and where they've been when they return to your garden in spring. There are also some suggestions on attracting them.
Spotted Owl Spotted Owls
The spotted owl, which has stirred so much controversy over logging on public lands in the Pacific Northwest, is rare and hard to find. Here's a personal encounter with the subspecies that lives in Arizona.
Spruce Grouse Episode from a Life List
It wasn't cold enough at home in Iowa, so a group of birders headed for Minnesota in the midst of winter, in search of snowy owls, spruce grouse, and memories to warm them till spring.
Peregrine Falcon Raptor Rapture
Fall is raptor time in much of the United States, and the best time to see migrating hawks. Stand with the author by the edge of a river and watch a peregrine falcon hunt for a meal.
Eastern Meadowlark Eastern Meadowlark
Some birds live in the trees, some by the shore. But the meadowlark loves wide open spaces. The male is entirely golden when he faces the female to impress her at mating time.

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