Flamingoly Asked Questions

By Hugh Powell
July 24, 2008
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You’ve still got until noon next Monday (UPDATE: the challenge is over – thanks to everyone who helped and check back soon for a wrap-up and announcement of winners) to help us with our organizational challenge and maybe win a prize. But here at Round Robin it’s time to talk about frequently asked questions.

Our science editor, Laura Erickson, is compiling a book of answers to bird questions, and she wants to make sure she answers whatever you might have been puzzling over lately.

We do have quite a treasure trove of questions to draw from already. For 22 years, Laura has fielded questions on her Minnesota radio show. And here at the Lab, Anne Hobbs negotiates a constant stream of inquiries from e-mails and phone calls.

But questions are like dandelions: they just keep popping up. So consider this post an open thread for collecting your questions – and send your incessantly curious friends over here, too. Over the next few weeks, I’ll add any stumpers that Anne sends me. To set the tone, here’s a quick sampler culled from recent questions:

What is this gorgeous black, white, and red bird at my feeder?

Could a hawk eat my dog?

Where do young Purple Martins disappear to right after they leave the nest?

More questions and answers here. Now let’s hear some of yours!


  • Here’s one that has been stumping me, and it might not even be a bird making the sound.

    In the open prairie, I keep hearing a high pitch trilling sound when I walk by that sounds like it is moving (like running). I suspect it could be an American Woodcock or some young bird, but thus far I can’t actually see what is making the sound. (It is always in the day time as well). What could this northern Illinois bird (or other animal) be?


  • Hugh

    Hm, that’s a good one. Hidden trilling sounds always make me think cricket or frog, but that may be just a way for me to feel better about not being able to find the source. The part about sounding like it’s moving is intriguing.

  • Laura Erickson

    Killdeer often make a trilling sound when they’re running.

  • J.D.

    When it rains, my feeders (both exposed platform & tubes) become extremely busy. Why is that?

  • Laura Erickson

    Birds can apparently sense changes in barometric pressure and they’re well-known to pig out in anticipation of storms.

    During actual bad weather, they need shelter, but because of their high metabolic rates, they also can’t go for too long without food. If a feeding station provides a reasonable amount of shelter, especially from wind, birds will gather there in good numbers.

Flamingoly Asked Questions