In this issue: Bald Eagles are booming; is migration getting more dangerous?; a seabird somersault; a quiz bird; and more!

Cornell Lab eNews

April 2021

Lower 48 Has 4 Times as Many Bald Eagles as a Decade Ago 

In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the latest population estimate for Bald Eagles, and the news was heartening. Some 316,000 eagles now cruise the skies in the Lower 48—more than four times the previous estimate, from 2009. See how the most accurate eagle count in history was partly powered by 180,000 eBirders plus sophisticated eBird Science models.

Dig Deeper: Explore the latest Bald Eagle distribution models, including colorful animated maps that show where eagles go throughout the year.

Violet-green Swallow by Jhoneil Centeno/Macaulay Library
Violet-green Swallow by Jhoneil Centeno/Macaulay Library; clouds by Kolganova Daria/Shutterstock.

Is Migration Getting More Dangerous?

Long-distance migration is perilous—but billions of birds have been making these long journeys year in and year out for millennia. Today, degraded stopover sites, sprawling cityscapes, and wild weather present new challenges to birds—and scientists are finding new ways to aid them on their journeys.

Lights Out Make a Difference: City lights attract and disorient birds as they migrate at night—but there's a solution as simple as flipping a switch. Lights Out campaigns across North America—and especially in Texas—are helping make migration safer. Learn more in this video.

A Northern Royal Albatross lands in New Zealand on Bird Cams.
Watch that first step! Northern Royal Albatross via Bird Cams.

You'll Flip for This Albatross Clip

It's not everyday you see a bird do a somersault. For the usually graceful albatross, landing without a headwind is a challenge—its narrow wings are superb for gliding, but not for generating lift at slow speeds. Luckily, albatrosses are sturdy birds accustomed to periodic mishaps on landing. True to form, this accidental acrobat walked away unscathed.

More Bird Cams: Check out the latest highlights from all of our live nest and feeder cams.

Eastern Bluebird by Kimberlie Sasan/NestWatch.
Eastern Bluebird by Kimberlie Sasan/NestWatch.

Are You Ready For Nesting Season?

To clean or not to clean? That is a common question. Is it nobler to clean out nest boxes and get rid of old nesting material? Or can you just leave it as is? The experts at NestWatch help clarify this annual conundrum to help you provide a warm welcome for your avian tenants.

Nest and Egg ID with the Experts: Brush up on your nesting knowledge—join the the leaders of NestWatch for a recently recorded webinar on backyard nest and egg identification.

April's mystery bird by Mitch Walters/Macaulay Library.
Each nest in these birds' colonies is constructed using around 1,000 individual mud pellets. Photo by Mitch Walters/Macaulay Library.

Which Species Is This?

Despite its name, in much of its range this species is as likely to build its free-form colonies of mud nests on buildings or bridges as on a precipice. In flight, its pointed wings and aerial maneuvering can help narrow the ID down to the right group—then look for a square tail and a pale, buffy rump to help separate it from other members of its family. Have you seen any of these swooping songbirds near you?

Bird Science News: 

eBirder of the Month Challenge: Submit 20 complete checklists from the same location in April and you could win a pair of ZEISS binoculars.

Win a Free Course: In April, every eligible eBird checklist that you submit gives you a chance to win free access to Bird Academy's online course Be A Better Birder: How to Identify Bird Songs.

Global Big Day: On May 8, join birders from around the world to set new records for birding’s biggest team.

Attend a Bird Festival: It's a great way to learn about birds and meet like-minded people. Many festivals are happening virtually this year—check out our full listings.

Work at the Cornell Lab: Visit our jobs page for current openings.

Help Make Big Day a Big Success

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Henry Trombley/Macaulay Library.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker by Henry Trombley/Macaulay Library.

Big Day 2021, the Cornell Lab’s most important conservation fundraiser of the year, is almost here!

Join forces with the Lab's Team Sapsucker this year to make Big Day 2021 a big success. Team Sapsucker will practice social distancing and safe birding from locations around the world. It’s a 24-hour marathon of birding in the name of conservation, and your support makes all the difference.

Discover how you can join our team on May 8 and make a big impact for birds.

Eastern Meadowlark by Marky Mutchler/Macaulay Library.
Eastern Meadowlark by Marky Mutchler/Macaulay Library.

Free Access to Birds of the World

Birds of the World is our ground-breaking online encylopedia—packed with all you need for spring: life histories, range maps, photos, videos, and sounds for every bird. Try it for 30 days—use coupon code SPRINGFREE on a monthly plan. Offer expires June 30. Cancel anytime.

Common Loons by Brian Lasenby/Shutterstock.
Common Loons by Brian Lasenby/ Shutterstock.

Think Like a Bird

One of the funnest parts of watching birds comes from seeing it all from a bird’s point of view—Why do they act that way? and what shapes their decisions? Enroll in Think Like A Bird: Understanding Bird Behavior, a self-paced online course, to find out.

Register for this course and you'll also get FREE access to Birds of the World, the Cornell Lab's online bird encyclopedia, for three months.

bird coloring books and ad for spring 20% off sale

Add Color to Your Spring Birding!

Save 20% when you spend $75 or more on Cornell Lab coloring books and everything else sitewide, including wonderful new puzzles for springtime! Visit the Cornell Lab Publishing Group store and use code APRIL21 through May 5.

Conservation Career Day poster

Free Virtual Career Day For Teens

Register for “Earth Is My Boss”—our virtual career day on April 18. This free online event will introduce 7th–12th graders to people who have turned their interests in science, engineering, education, and tech into careers that help the planet.

Yellow-rumped Warbler by Gary Mueller
Yellow-rumped Warbler by Gary Mueller/Macaulay Library.

Free Webinar: Get Ready for Great Birdwatching

Join a panel of Cornell Lab experts on April 22 at noon Eastern to take a deep dive into spring migration. You’ll pick up tips on forecasting bird migration, along with finding and identifying birds near you. Register to attend.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s website at

Copyright © 2021 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All rights reserved.

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