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Past Shows

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Why Do Chickadees Come and Go?

A chickadee comes in to the feeder, quickly grabs a seed, and flies away. It may return immediately, but it's more likely to wait its turn. When a whole flock of chickadees moves into the yard, it looks as if they form a living conveyer belt. One chickadee after another flies to the feeder and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, science

The Oilbird's Lightless life

Nature has produced some exceptionally odd and unique animals. One such creature is the Oilbird of northern South America. The Oilbird prefers a diet of wild berries and fruits, especially lipid-rich fruits like palm nuts and avocados (which leads to fatty young and the Oilbird's name). ... read more »

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What Happens When Birds Get Wet?

Have you ever seen a bird foraging in the rain and wondered why it isn't soaked to the bone? While every bird wears one feather coat, different kinds of feathers – and even different parts of the same feather – can perform various functions. The outermost tips of the main body feathers, called... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage, science

Short-eared Owl

Flapping with deep, slow wing-motion, a Short-eared Owl appears almost to float above the ground. This owl has an extensive world range, including North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Still, it's declining, due to development, agriculture, and overgrazing. American Bird Conservancy and... read more »

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Tale of a Rascal Crow

Crows and their cousins - ravens, magpies, jackdaws, rooks, jays, and others - are among the cleverest birds in the world. Some even use tools - including a lit cigarette! A Rook, like this one, allegedly set fire to the thatched roof of Anne Hathaway’s historic cottage in England. And all... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

The Early Bird

We've all heard that the early bird gets the worm. But research shows that birds dining early and heavily may lower their life expectancy. Socially dominant birds stay lean (and agile at avoiding predators) during the day, and then stoke up later, before a cold night. Subordinate birds have to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Laysan Albatrosses Nest at Midway Atoll

Midway Atoll is the winter home of nearly a million nesting albatrosses. Laysan Albatrosses return to Midway in November to breed. Roughly 450,000 pairs wedge their way into a scant 2½ square miles of land surface. And why do Laysans nest in winter? Well, the big birds forage mostly at night, so... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting, vocalization

Sparrows Kick, Robins Pick

If you watch backyard birds, you will likely see some characteristic behaviors. One example is "foraging" styles – the behaviors that a bird uses to find food. Some birds, such as sparrows, are famous for their "double-scratch" behavior. The bird jumps forward and back, quite quickly...twice. In... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

How Evolution Reshaped the Woodcock

Evolution works with what's at hand. So if you start with a normal bird skull – bill pointing forward, eyes oriented front or sideways, ears behind eyes – and introduce the challenge of seeing behind your head while your bill is pushed deeply into the soil, what do you get? The American Woodcock!... read more »

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Blackbird, by Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney and the rest of the Beatles most certainly grew up hearing Eurasian Blackbirds. Their song is beautiful, so it's no wonder the Beatles chose to weave it into one of their songs. But McCartney wasn't singing about the bird. He was singing about the racial strife in the American... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, music
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