Kenn Kaufman’s Notebook

The Red-headed Woodpecker Doesn’t Make Sense

October 13, 2017 — It’s popular and unmistakable. But why is this bird in decline, and why are its habits so hard to understand?

Being a Good American Kestrel Dad Comes at a Cost

August 08, 2017 — Why do male kestrels lose out to females for the best wintering sites? It goes back to their roles as breadwinners during the breeding season.

The Catbird Has a Simple Trick to Outsmart Brood Parasites

May 24, 2017 — When it comes to protecting its nest from the Brown-headed Cowbird and other nest invaders, the quirky Gray Catbird is especially talented.

The Barn Swallow Is Slowly Conquering the World

April 27, 2017 — By expanding its breeding range in an unprecedented way, the adaptable swallow continues its spread—while baffling bird experts along the way.

The Fascinating and Complicated Sex Lives of White-throated Sparrows

March 29, 2017 — With their quadruple personalities, those little brown birds at your feeder are a lot more interesting than they might appear.

Even John James Audubon Couldn't Tell the Difference Between Scaup Ducks

February 22, 2017 — Audubon and his rival, Alexander Wilson, disagreed about the habits of scaup ducks. But that's because they were describing two different birds.

Unwelcome by Some, the Ring-necked Pheasant Is an American Success Story

January 24, 2017 — It might not be native to the U.S., but like so many other immigrants, the bird has thrived here.

The White-winged Crossbill Is the Bird That Never Goes Home

January 10, 2017 — A continuous search for spruce cones makes this crossbill the ultimate avian nomad.

How the Stealthy Saw-whet Owl Duped Scientists for a Century

December 20, 2016 — Once thought to be rare and non-migratory by researchers, it turns out this little owl is just the opposite.

The Mighty Ringed Kingfisher Has Invaded Texas

December 06, 2016 — Once a rarity along the border, this ‘King Kongfisher’ has become a year-round resident. Why is still a mystery.