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Past Shows

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Flicker Attack

In early spring, a male flicker may drum on a metal stovepipe or other resonant surface to attract a mate and proclaim his territory. This doesn't damage your house. If your flicker is drilling for food, you'd better check for carpenter ants or other insects! A flicker may also be excavating a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Montezuma Oropendola - The Golden Pendulum

In a clearing where an ancient Mayan city once stood, the Montezuma Oropendola perches and sings. His courtship display is astonishing: he swings by his feet and sings, his tail describing a golden pendulum - the very source of his name in Spanish - oropendola. read more »

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Speech and Birdsong - The Genetics of Vocal Learning

Some birds are born with the ability to sing. Others learn to sing while they're young — just like humans, who must learn to speak. It turns out that vocal learning in songbirds and humans may have more in common than anyone suspected. Recent DNA research reveals that songbirds and humans share a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

An Avian Big Bang

Many scientists believe that the demise of the dinosaurs began when an asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago. Some dinosaurs survived, and among them were the early ancestors of birds. Recently an international research team sequenced the genomes of 45 birds of diverse lineages. The... read more »

Amazing Pied-billed Grebe

The small, nondescript Pied-billed Grebe has an astonishing talent. The grebe is the master of its own buoyancy. It can squeeze out both the air trapped in its feathers and in its internal air-sacs and sink effortlessly. Learn more about the amazing, sinking Pied-billed Grebe at Cornell's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  Hollywood

Regal Great Blue Heron

Tall and prehistoric-looking, the Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. Great Blue Herons are often seen flying high overhead with slow wing-beats. When foraging, they stand silently along riverbanks, on lake shores, or in wet meadows. Quickly then, they stab at their prey.... read more »

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Raven's Love Song

Ravens are seen as tricksters in many traditions. But Common Ravens have a softer side. During courtship, a pair will often sit side by side, sometimes preening each other's feathers. And during that ritual, one or both may make soft warbling sounds. Raven nestlings sometimes make this same sound... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, vocalization

Flocking and Foraging

In winter, a foraging flock might include several species of birds: chickadees, kinglets, and even a Downy Woodpecker. Many bird species eat alone, so you might wonder why these birds have chosen to dine together. Different species flocking together to find food enhances the success of all. One... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

February Summer in Argentina

In February, winter still holds sway over much of North America. But in Argentina, it’s summer, and birds are in full voice. Argentina’s national bird, the Rufous Hornero, belts out a rapid trill while the Rufous-bellied Thrush sings its lovely song. In the tropical forests of northeastern... read more »

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Wood Storks and Climate Change

Wood Storks nest in trees, often in big colonies, and only when conditions are just right for them. Because of their feeding technique, they thrive in the early part of the dry season, when receding floodwaters concentrate fish in small pools. But this method of feeding is effective only when the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting
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