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Past Shows

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Frigatebirds' Kleptoparasitism

In the warmer regions of the world’s oceans, large seabirds called boobies plunge headfirst into the water, snatching up fish. But as a booby flies up from the waves with a fish now in its gullet, there may be another big seabird — a frigatebird — with its eye on the booby’s fresh catch. Now... read more »

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Voices and Vocabularies - The Basics

Birds’ voices invite us to step into nature and learn more about the singers. Hearing what’s distinctive in one bird’s voice — compared to another — helps us identify our avian neighbors without seeing them. Amazing!  The differences between the songs of three marsh-dwellers: the brassy... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

Spring, The Sky Rippled with Geese - With Maria Schneider

Birds provide a lot of inspiration for composer Maria Schneider, whose album titled Winter Morning Walks won three Grammy awards in 2014. One song from that album, “Spring, The Sky Rippled With Geese,” features Ted Kooser’s poem of the same title. Here’s what Maria says about spring: “That’s my... read more »

Tune Up Your Ears - West

By March in the West, Song Sparrows and other songbirds that don't migrate are already singing heartily to attract mates. Many other birds - including this Warbling Vireo - will return north from the tropics in April and May, announcing themselves in song as soon as they arrive in nesting areas.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Birds Return with the Light

Winter's weak light is finally beginning to strengthen, and some birds, long absent, have begun their journeys north. Tree Swallows, such as this one, phoebes, bluebirds, and more return with the light. So be of good cheer, the birds and Spring are coming back. You can learn more about this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Surfing with Scoters

Surf Scoters are perfectly at home in the element they’re named for. They swim smack in the middle of what surfers call the impact zone: Just where the waves break with greatest violence. Why risk the harshest waves when there’s calmer water close by? Because the churning action of crashing waves... read more »

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Voices and Vocabularies - Eastern Bluebirds

A male Eastern Bluebird stands on a wooden nestbox attached to a fence post. The bluebird’s song – and his alert presence - assert his claim to this territory. In the mid-20th Century, the numbers of bluebirds in the Northeast declined to the lowest level ever, due largely to nesting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

Little Blue Heron, Light and Dark

Two herons, one dark, the other white, feed at the edge of a wooded pond in the South. Both birds are Little Blue Herons. What's going on here? Well, the white bird is a juvenile. These young herons forage with flocks of Snowy Egrets, which stir up prey. The white immatures mix readily with the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Vernal Equinox

Today marks the Vernal Equinox. And birds are singing in the new season. Listen to the sounds of the Greater Prairie-Chicken, Limpkin, Vesper Sparrow, Black Scoter, Horned Lark, Sandhill Crane, Western Meadowlark, Black Oystercatcher, and Western Screech-Owl.Today’s show is brought to you by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Swallows of Capistrano

Every year, the change from winter to spring brings millions of Cliff Swallows from Argentina to North America. Since the early 1800s, swallows had returned, year after year, to the Mission of San Juan Capistrano. But during a restoration project in the 1990s, the venerable mud nests were removed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting
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