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Songbird ReMix 10th Annual Audubon Sale!

LisaB

HW3D Vice President & Queen Bee
Staff member
Co-Founder
Flamingos of the Great Rift Valley lg.jpg

John James Audubon, born on April 26th, 1785, was the United States dominant wildlife artist for half a century. His seminal work, Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-size prints, is still a standard by which bird artists are measured. In his later years, Audubon sounded the alarm about the destruction of birds and their habitats. After his death, the Audubon Society was formed and carried his legacy into the future.

Today, Ken Gilliland carries the spirit of JJ Audubon’s work into the 3D digital age by promoting avian artistry and environmental awareness through his Songbird ReMix series. While his contribution to the bird conservation community is an ongoing thing, once a year he hosts a special sale event to bring awareness to the world of birds and raise funds necessary to protect them and their habitat.

2016 marks ten years of this highly anticipated 3D bird event. The 10th Annual Songbird Remix Audubon's Birthday Sale celebrates the third year the sale is being hosted at HiveWire 3D, the new home for the Songbird Remix 3D library. Audubon California has a promotion that coincides with the Audubon Birthday Sale called “Give $5, Save 5 birds”, paying the farmer to leave their crops standing which saves endangered Tri-colored Blackbird chicks from being “harvested” along with the crop that is their home.

Each year, Ken has donated 25% or more of proceeds from the Audubon Birthday Sale to Audubon California. Over the years, the sale has generated thousands of dollars for Audubon. This year, 30% (or more) of Ken’s proceeds on the 2015 Audubon's Birthday Sale will be donated to Audubon California who is directly responsible for preserving many of the birds featured in his Songbird Remix series. The annual Audubon’s Birthday sale has saved almost 20,000 endangered birds to date.

In anticipation of this annual Audubon Birthday sale event, we asked Ken some questions to find out more about Audubon, what else we can do and why saving birds is something everyone should care about.

[HW3D] Why should we care about birds and their habitats?
[SBRMKG]
Apart from the economic benefits birds provide, they are predators, pollinators, scavengers, seed dispersers, seed predators, and ecosystem engineers.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “Birds should be saved for utilitarian reasons; and, moreover, they should be saved because of reasons unconnected with dollars and cents... The extermination of the Passenger Pigeon meant that mankind was just so much poorer... And to lose the chance to see frigate-birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad of terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach— why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.”

But birds are very important to our own survival; both environmentally and economically. Birds provide 17 different ecosystem services - such as pollination and water catchment. If we were to pay them for these services, the amount required is estimated between $16- 54 trillion per year worldwide, which is around twice the entire world's Gross National Product.

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When someone says saving birds or their environment is bad for business and jobs, they are ignoring a huge customer base. There are over 50 million birders in the US (conservatively defined as having taken a trip a mile or more from home for the primary purpose of observing and identifying birds or tried to identify birds around the home). Birdwatchers spent $32 billion in 2001 that in turn generated $85 billion in economic benefits, produced $13 billion in tax revenues and 863,406 jobs. In addition, US Birders spend $3.1 billion on food for birds and other wildlife; $733 million on bird houses and feeders; $2.6 billion on cameras and associated photographic equipment and $507 million on binoculars and spotting scopes, all in one year (USFWS Study 2001).

[HW3D] What else can we do to help?
[SBRMKG]
Audubon recently reported that based on the last 45 years of data, even common species will not be so common tomorrow. Since 1967 the average population of common birds in the United Sates have fallen 70% from 17.6 million to 5.35 million individuals. Certain areas, such as California, are showing declines as much as 95% in some species. So the threat of extinction isn’t limited to obscure and rare species in someone else’s yard-- it’s the jay in your yard, the hummingbird working your flowers, the finches chattering in your tree… and their survival is your responsibility.

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Making Easy Choices…

[SBRMKG]Do great art.
This one’s real easy. The primary idea behind the Songbird ReMix series is that artists will be able to create imagery using the included bird species and help spread awareness. Use them and make a difference. Post your artwork featuring the birds and tell your audience of their plights. Use the text in the Field Guide or write your own. I guarantee you someone will be moved, and perhaps, moved enough to also make a difference.

[HW3D]Yes, that's not only easy but creating imagery using your birds is fun, too! The entries in the Songbird ReMix Open Rendering Season Contest are a great example of how art, inspiration and the plight of birds can come together beautifully.
[SBRMKG]Heal the earth one garden at a time.
One of the primary causes for endangerment and extinction is habitat loss. While few of us can purchase tracts of land to protect and save habitat, almost everyone can garden. Here’s your opportunity to give back to the planet. If you have planting space, whether it be acres or a couple pots on your balcony, use it and plant native plants. You know, the ones that actually belong there. If you’re not aware of what’s native to your area, contact your local native plant society or do internet searches. Native plants and the birds, insects and other wildlife have ancient relationships. Once you start planting the right plants, the wildlife will rekindle these relationships. From my own experience, our bird count when from 40 different species a year to over 100 within a three year period. The types of butterflies tripled and the native mammals and insects I didn’t even know existed in our area now are frequent visitors.

Provide water sources on your property. Whether it’s a bird bath, a mister, a pond or stream, a water source is probably the most important feature you can put on your property for birds. Feeder, nesting boxes, or secluded cover (trees, shrubs, thickets) are also important. Don’t rake away all the leaves. Natural mulch is important to the health of native plants. For many birds, mulch is their forage area. The National Wildlife Federation and Audubon have home wildlife habitat programs. If you have native plants, shelter, food sources and water for wildlife you can be certified as a NWF “Backyard Wildlife Habitat” and for a small fee even get a placard to display out in your yard or on your fence saying so. If neighbors pass by and look at your garden, wondering why it looks a little different (native plants), tell them why. That too, has the snowball effect.

Shop and live green. This is easy to do. If you drink coffee, buy shade grown coffee. Buy organically grown products. Yes, there a little more expensive, but they’re generally better for you. If your city has a recycling service, use it. Also, many power companies offer “green power” options, sign up and if they don’t have one, ask why. Use water, power and gas more wisely. Get energy saving bulbs and water saving toilets and shower heads.

When car shopping, consider less polluting vehicles, hybrids or an EV. Drive less by planning and grouping your stops ahead of time.

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If you dabble in the stock market, consider a “green” mutual fund and if you own stock, demand at shareholder’ meetings that the company become more eco-friendly. If a company is known to exploit the environment, don’t buy their products and let them know why you’re not. Write them. Call them. Email them. Believe it or not, they are concerned about losing your business which hurts their bottom line.

Pets… Before everyone starts with the hate mail—I do not hate cats. The average well-fed outdoor housecat kills over a dozen songbirds a year. The housecat being well fed, cared for, with a safe place to sleep has a much clearer advantage than real predators (such as coyotes or hawks). While housecats are predators, they are not endemic (meaning they are foreign to the ecosystem). Let me put it another way… what if lions or cougars were let loose in a shopping mall? Would that be “nature taking its’ course”? No, big cats are not endemic to shopping malls or cities; they’re dangerous and don’t belong there. They belong in their natural habitat or locked up in a zoo. So why are domestic cats treated differently? Simply said, cats are a domestic pet that belongs indoors.

Be aware what goes on in your community. Of all the government layers, the local levels are the most accessible to you. Hearings regarding important decisions in your community happen all the time. Attend some, and make a difference. I attended a hearing regarding the re-landscaping of a local park. Now they’re going to be planting native plants in the park. My wife, neighbors and I commented on a housing project asking for radical zoning changes on an area, which is currently wilderness. Now the city has to consider whether it wants to rubber stamp the developer’s vision or face the wrath of the community. Let your community leaders know you want “smart growth” and expect them to obey their own zoning laws. Building should occur in places where it’s appropriate to build, not because it’s the place where maximum profit can be achieved.

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Vote Smart. When deciding whom to vote for, don’t trust the mailers or the candidate’s lip service. Just because they may title initiatives “Clean Air” or “Healthy Forests” doesn’t make it so. Check their records. How did they really vote? The internet is great for that. The League of Women Voters even has environmental score cards. The National Audubon Society has an “Advisory” newsletter it emails out that states what going on in the Capital and even provides links to your elected officials along with editable form letters to express your concerns.

Even more important is phone calls and letters to your elected officials expressing how important environmental issues are to you. Consider this, PR firms, lobbyists and others make daily contact with your representatives “helping” to explain the “needs” of their constituents. I’m sure your representatives hearing this day in and day out might start to believe that’s what you want. Call them and set them straight. If they say helping the environment costs jobs, set them straight with the facts.

Yes, you can make a difference, if you want to…

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Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Thanks, Chris.

Yes, this is the 10th year I been going my Audubon's Birthday charity sale and once again, 30% or more of my royalties will go to Audubon to help protect the Tri-colored Blackbird and maintain their wildlife sanctuaries. In the last six years, the tri-colored blackbird has declined 64%, they really need our help.

---

New Releases... I had planned to release my updated library CR2s for the sale, but I've found too many compatibility issues so I really need release them with the entire package updated.

What am I doing in these updates?

The 2016 update transfers the controls and morphs found throughout the body parts of the Songbird ReMix model to the base (BODY) section. This update also includes new morphs and smart controls to enhance the bird’s realism and accuracy as well as it’s ease of use. The selection of controls are divided into two parts; the transferred controls (plus all new ones) found in the body section and the Legacy Controls, which are still found in the individual body parts.


Smart Controls... Smart Controls are helpful hidden codes that determine what species of bird you are building and automatically add the appropriate actions to create them. A good example of this is the new “WingsFold-Gamebird”, “WingsFold-LongWings” and “WingsFold-Swallow”. The dials for these are found in the BODY/Creation Controls/Wing & Tail Shapes section. When one of these dials is “on” (set to “1”), the model will automatically do the correct wing folding behavior when the “WingsFold” morph is used, while in the old version of the Songbird ReMix model this had to be set manually.


Another example is the “Bk-RaiseUpperParrot” morph from the old version which had to be manually set. Now, if the “Parrot” or “Parrot1” species morph is set to “1”, the “Bk-RaiseUpper” morph will automatically use the Parrot shaped morph. It should be noted that parrots that don’t use the Parrot morph settings (or the settings are <1 ) will not use the special shaped morph and may still have deformed beaks when “Bk-RaiseUpper” is used.


A third example is the new “TailFold-Split” dial (found in the BODY/Creation Controls/Wing & Tail Shapes section) which when set to “1” creates a gap in the middle when the tail feathers are folded. (For this to happen either the Action Controls/Common Controls/Tail Spread OR Action Controls/Wing & Tail Controls/TailSpread2 must first be set to "-1" .)This iconic gap appears on some bird species.

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New Morphs and Controls...
The 2016 base features several new morphs and controls. The most notable is the “BetterHipThighs” morph which is found in BODY/Body Shapes. The original 2003 base did not have the leg geometry physically attached to the hip geometry. This morph slightly reshapes the hip geometry so that two circular areas are created and thighs are reshaped to align to those areas to create a more seamless connection. While not perfect, it does offer considerable improvement, while maintaining compatibility with the older content. A series of hidden “smart controls” are active to correct the morphs that were designed for the old model’s shape when “BetterHipThighs” is active.

Other universal new controls include “ShinScale”, “FootScale”, “EyeScale” (as well as several eye positioning controls), and several redone morphs such as “TailFold” (feathers layer better) and Parrot shapes (removes geometry errors at tip of beak).

The Issues...
The modernizing of the Songbird ReMix CR2 bases has gone from a simple project to a massive undertaking. Originally, I though I could just update the CR2, add in all the cool new features and transfer all the controls to the BODY and still maintain compatibly. The approach has become problematic with the older library, which loaded the settings directly into the various body parts. The new settings within the BODY, in some cases, end up doubling the settings. It appears that the only real solution is going to be updating the entire package to ensure compatibility. This will also give me the opportunity to update some texture maps and settings. With almost 800 birds supported by these CR2s, it is going to be a massive undertaking and probably take the rest of the year to complete. This approach also means that you will need to transfer any Songbird ReMix products purchased at my former publisher to Hivewire3D to get the updates. If you haven't, please take advantage of Hivewire's product transfer program that will allow you to keep your purchased products current.

In the works...
-Songbird ReMix Asia (my 4 volume set), which started the need to update these CR2 bases, will probably be worked in between updates over the summer.
-The Wings for the HW Horse have finally moved forward and are in line on Laurie's (CWRW) long to be textured list (I've seen some preliminary images-- they look great)
-Other projects for the distant future: I've promised Hornbills (I know, for years and still plan on doing them). I just picked up a book entitled, "a Field Guide to Mesozoic Birds" (that should make those who have requested dino-birds for years happy) and I'm getting to the point that I'll probably look at Peafowl (since they're honking outside my office door today) and "farm" birds (like roosters, chicken, etc).

The SongbirdReMix.com website...
I did recently update my entire website to be more browser and smart-device friendly. There are several specific Songbird ReMix features I think everyone will find useful:
- Free Downloads and Updates. This section has been combined with my store links so everything is in one place. Simply go to the product and all free downloads and updates, as well as the manual and any promo movies are there.
-The Bird Library (wiki). Looking for a particular bird? This wiki has every bird I've ever created along with the field guide notes and a link to the package it's in.
-Hall of Fame. This section has the winners of my "Open Rendering Season Contests", professional uses of the Songbird ReMix series and some fun vintage advertising and imagery.
 

Lyne

Distinguished
HW Honey Bear
OH shoot... I went to get my DAZ list...and the ones I was going to buy today, I've already got!? Must have lost them in making up my new KenRuntime... I'll send my list to Ken, and will study it hard to see if I can fill in any I don't have... (but may have them all!?!?) :confused:

A little while later… I went shopping! :) I had so many in my cart I really had to save some for another time as my credit card started to look at me cross eyed. Still it feels good to have helped the birds and added more of them that I feel I'll really be able to use to my runtime. :)
 
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Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Lyne, I (and Audubon) appreciate your support. Audubon California says that for every dollar they get, they can save at least one Tri-colored blackbird-- doing a little quick math, that means that the purchase of one of my normally priced sets (with all discounts/brokerage fees/etc) is saving real 2 birds. So you've saved quite a few birds today... thank-you :)

Also, part of the mission of Songbird ReMix is get artists creating art which in turn might get others interested in or at least aware about the plight of birds (and maybe doing something top help save them)... so please, create art!

---

Cool bird facts:
The Egyptian Vulture is the first ever recorded bird ever to be protected by law. The Egyptian Pharaoh felt a kinship to this vulture and feeling that their job as natural cleaners was very important to the health of his kingdom, he forbade anyone to kill this bird. This crime was punishable by death. After this ruling, the bird came to be called "Pharaoh's Chicken."
Sadly, today with that protection gone, the Egyptian Vulture is extinct in Egypt and struggling in it's other ranges.

This endangered vulture has 21,000 - 67,200 mature individuals left in thew wild. It is declining in large parts of its range, often severely. In Europe and most of the Middle East, it is half as plentiful as it was about twenty years ago, and the populations in India and southwestern Africa have collapsed entirely. In the case of India, this apparently is attributable to the widespread use of the NSAID Diclofenac (an anti-inflammatory for livestock which is toxic to birds). Many farmers poison vultures believing they promote disease—in fact, vultures do the opposite by cleaning up potential sites for diseases to spread.




 

SF-Design

Enthusiast
Contributing Artist
I bought your Birds of Prey - Eagles. They are really great, I do love them. So much detail. Fantastic work :)
 

Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Thanks, Eagles was a fun project.

----

Cool Bird Facts #2:
There is only one type of bird that can move down a tree trunk headfirst-- all others have to back-down tail first. Of course, we're talking about the nuthatch.
Nuthatches are omnivorous, eating mostly insects, nuts and seeds. They forage for insects hidden in or under bark by climbing along tree trunks and branches, sometimes upside-down. They forage within their territories when breeding, but they may join mixed feeding flocks at other times. Their habit of wedging a large food item in a crevice and then hacking at it with their strong bills gives this group its English name. There are 27 species of nuthatches (15 of them found in Asia). The Songbird ReMix Series has 4 nuthatches currently available; The red-breasted, the white-breasted, the Eurasian and the endangered Corsican nuthatch.

 

Miss B

Drawing Life 1 Pixel at a Time
CV-BEE
Well, I haven't purchased anything from Ken's store since he moved here to the Hive, but I made up for it yesterday. ;)

That's not to say I'll be entering the Open Season rendering contest, but . . . you never know. :D
 

Lyne

Distinguished
HW Honey Bear
I'll never forget seeing an Egyptian vulture in real life… At the San Diego Wild Animal Park at the bird show they brought out an Egyptian vulture. They had a sort of egg that they placed near the vulture and we, the audience, could watch this amazing bird pick up a rock and continued to drop it onto the egg over and over until it broke it open and could eat what was inside. Of all the beautiful birds-and there were some spectacular raptors that flew out over the audience, and the wonderful emus that have such a tiny brain experienced coming out into the arena every time as though it were the very first time-as explained to us by the trainers-the Egyptian vulture experience was the most unusual.
 

Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
@Miss B... Thanks for your support!

@Lyne... Yes, Egyptian Vultures are egg eaters and yes, I've seen the SD Zoo show dozens of times (we're members and go to the Zoo and Safari park several times a year just to look at the birds).

 

Lyne

Distinguished
HW Honey Bear
Oh I used to have a yearly pass-especially to the wild animal Park. I used to "live there" in the summertime, often driving myself and wandering around… those were wonderful years when I could do that and the memory sustaine me now that I can't get out and about.
 

Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Today, bird cool facts...
Since I've talked about vultures and the San Diego Zoo, it makes since to go to the California Condors today. California Condors have the largest wingspan of any North American bird. Its featherless head reduces bacterial growth from eating carrion.

The Condor, remnants of the prehistoric… At the time of human settlement of the Americas, the California Condor was widespread across North America. However, climate changes associated with the end of the last ice age and the extinction of the Pleistocene megafauna led to a subsequent reduction in range and population. Prehistorically, California Condors are known from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. Condor numbers dramatically declined in the 19th century due to poaching, lead poisoning, and habitat destruction and now the Condor is only found in Southern California. Eventually, a conservation plan was put in place by the United States government that led to the capture of all the remaining wild condors in 1987. These 22 birds were bred at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo. Numbers rose through captive breeding and, beginning in 1991, condors have been reintroduced into the wild. The project is the most expensive species conservation project ever undertaken in the United States. The California Condor is one of the world's rarest bird species. In August 2008, there were 332 condors known to be living, including 156 in the wild.

A condor chick was just born (April 4th)! Check it out on the Cornell Labs Condor Cam...


SBRM Condors is available here
 

Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Today's Cool Bird Facts #4: Being called a Bird Brain is actually a compliment.

Being called a bird brain has for years been had negative connotations but much of the latest scientific research shows birds are quite smart Here are some great examples:

 
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Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Today Cool Bird Fact #5: Audubon's Warbler

Since today is Audubon's Birthday (April 26, 1785), it seems appropriate to talk about the bird named (originally) after him. Audubon's Warbler is now lumped in with several other warbler variants to form the Yellow-rumped Warbler family. The other 3 types of Yellow-rump Warbler are the eastern US Myrtle Warbler (ssp coronata), the northwest Mexican black-fronted warbler (ssp nigrifrons), and the Guatemalan Goldman's warbler (ssp goldmani). The key identifier on all of these warbler subspecies is the yellow patch on the top end of the rump of the bird--this patch is often hidden when the wings are folded.
These birds are one of North America's most abundant neotropical migrants. They are primarily insectivorous. The species is perhaps the most versatile foragers of all warblers. Beyond gleaning from leaves like other New World warblers, they often flit, flycatcher-like, out from their perches in short loops, to catch flying insects.

For those of you actually reading my cool bird facts-- here's a treat (if you have Woodland Jewels)-- some alternative Yellow-rumped Warbler male textures. I felt I went too heavy originally on the black heads so these new ones are grayer :)

 

Alisa

HW3D QAV Director (QAV Queen Bee)
Staff member
QAV-BEE
Happy Birthday Audubon!

Congrats on all the 10th year of your sale and thanks for the Warbler, Ken!!

So glad you're part of the Hive!!
 

pommerlis

Awesome
Contributing Artist
I will have to check what I allready have flying about in my Runtime.....but I started on the Moths allready.
Don't have those, I'm sure of that :D
 

Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Today's Bird Fact: The Endemic birds of Hawai'i

When you go to Hawaii, most of the birds you'll see there, actually don't belong there; they were imported to the island as pets. The endemic (native) birds of Hawaii are only found above the mosquito line (approx. 1660 m, where it's too cold for mosquitoes to survive) because they have no resistance to avian malaria (which was also imported to the islands via mosquitoes hitching a ride aboard ships).

Hawai’i has many of the most unique and usual bird species on the planet. Over half of the known bird species on Hawai’i evolved from the common house finch.

Of the 71 known species of endemic Hawaiian bird, one-third are now extinct and two-thirds of the remaining living species are either endangered or threatened. In 2012, part of the Audubon's Birthday Sale proceeds made a significant donation to help protect the remaining endemic birds.

Interested in these unique birds? Songbird ReMix Hawai'i has almost half of the known species to inhabit Hawai’i (35 species, 41 birds in all).

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Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Wow - interesting, but sad :(
Yes... if you want to see the greatest number of endemic Hawaiian birds in one place-- go to the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the Big Island-- it's an amazing place. Link to my photo gallery of Hakalau

Today's Cool Bird Facts: The Brown Pelican

The Brown Pelican is unique among the world’s seven other species of pelicans in that they only are found along the ocean shores; all others can be also seen in inland lakes. It and the Peruvian Pelican are the only pelicans that dive from the air into the water to catch its food.

While the Brown Pelican is draining the water from its bill after a dive, gulls often try to steal the fish right out of its pouch. They sometimes even perch on the pelican's head or back and reach in. The pelican itself, however, is not above stealing fish from other seabirds. It also follows fishing boats and hangs around piers for handouts.

The Brown Pelican frequently lowers its head onto its shoulders with the bill open, pulls its head back, and stretches the pouch over its throat and neck. The exposed neck looks like a large lump sticking up out of the pouch.

The Brown Pelican came close to extinction in the 1950's due to DDT. With the banning of DDT, the US east coast populations have return to historic levels. The gulf coast population, which was increasing as well, took a big hit with the 2010 BP oil spill. Populations on the western US coast have not fared well and are still protected as endangered species.

You can help Audubon help this Pelican on May 7th if you're on the western US Coast (Washington, Oregon, California and Baja California) by joining the great Brown Pelican count.


The Brown Pelican is available in my Songbird ReMix Pelicans
 
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Ken Gilliland

Extraordinary
HW3D Exclusive Artist
Cool Bird Facts #8:

Wow! I've done a week of these? Hopefully, someone is reading them ;)

Last night, I had two Common Poor-wills calling to each other in our yard right after dusk. Pretty cool stuff and something that's pretty rare in a urban neighborhood. They are almost always heard and not seen and fall into the "Nightjar" family (which, of course, is one of my latest bird sets).

The common poor-will is the only bird known to go into torpor for extended periods (weeks to months). This happens on the southern edge of its range in the United States, where it spends much of the winter inactive, concealed in piles of rocks. This behavior has been reported in California and New Mexico. Such an extended period of torpor is close to a state of hibernation, not known among other birds.

Song of male is a melodious, whistled “poor-will-low” lasting about 5 seconds.

 
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