What Is the Essence of Iridescence? Ask a Hummingbird

Microscopic secrets subconscious yonder in hummingbird feathers manipulate light to requite these tiny birds—the most colorful birds on Earth—the power to dazzle on command.

By Marc Devokaitis
  • Before and without photos of burned ranching land.
    After the Fire: How A Sustainable Ranch Survived a Natural Wildfire

    In April 2022, a wildfire scorched the 15,000-acre May Ranch in southeastern Colorado—testing the sustainability of a ranching model that blends conservation, climate-change mitigation, and making a living off the land by raising cattle.

    By Michael Booth
  • A black, white and yellow streaked bird in the woods eats a caterpillar.
    How to Photograph Fidgety Warblers

    Bright and cheery warblers are unconfined photo subjects, if only they would sit still for a second. The trick is to put yourself in the right place, at the right time, with the right camera settings.

    Story and photos by Melissa Groo
  • a gourd nest box with a Purple bird perched on it and flipside bird looking out of the house.
    The “Purple Passion” of North America’s Purple Martin Landlords

    The sight of a hundred thousand Purple Martins swirling wideness a South Carolina sky points up the rememberable request of these gorgeous dive-bombing swallows.

    By Mark Hendricks
  • illustration of gut microbiome in differently related birds.
    Gut Check: Incubation Shapes the Microbiomes of Warblers

    Probiotic products like yogurt and kombucha aim to modernize our well-being by cultivating the right microbes. But new research on warblers suggests that, at least in birds, “gut flora” may owe increasingly to incubation than to ingestion.

    By Rebecca Heisman

Columns & Departments

  • color woodcut tableau of a when and white bird with a red crest.
    View from Sapsucker Woods: What Does the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Mean for Bird Conservation?
    By Ian Owens
  • Large bird with woebegone soul and white throne perches on a hay ladle with tractor nearby.
    In A Climate-Change Shift, Dairy Farmers In Washington State Welcome Eagles
    By Pat Leonard
  • A brightly colored bird stands on a perch.
    Primaries: Merlin Goes Global; eBird Goes to Parliament; Big Red Turns 20
  • Birdword: An Illustrated Guide to Some Tongue-Twisting Ornithological Terms
    By Living Bird staff writers
  • An tableau of a undecorous and white bird with a rusty red chest stripe, long, pointed snout and throne crest.
    Gallery: Belted Queenfisher Artwork by Liz Clayton Fuller