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Past Shows

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Listening to Nuthatches

Nuthatches rank high on the list of favorite backyard birds. Compact and stub-tailed, they climb down tree trunks and along the underside of branches with comical ease. One at a time, they flit in for suet and sunflower seeds. But out in the woods, where they spend most of their time, nuthatches... read more »

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The Birds of Block Island - With Scott Comings

Scott Comings spent a lot of time on Block Island when he was growing up in Rhode Island. Today, as the associate state director of the Rhode Island chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Scott works to protect birds and nature — including the habitat on Block Island. BirdNote asked Scott if there’s... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

The Fine Art of Dabbling

Picture this Gadwall duckling swimming slowly across a pond, skimming the water’s surface with its broad, spatulate bill. This behavior is called dabbling. Along with the pond water, multitudes of tiny particles pass through the duck’s bill. Somehow it sorts out and swallows the edible seeds and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Long-billed Curlew - Singing over the Grassland

The Long-billed Curlew is North America's largest shorebird, seen here in its breeding habitat, a western grassland. They may be the largest, but they're also among the rarest. Their numbers are declining as arid grasslands disappear. Because curlews depend on very different environments for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, migration

Race4Birds - With Tim Keyes

The Race 4 Birds Foundation offers a “blueprint” for creating a bird races for young people. The inspiration for this model is Georgia's Youth Birding Competition. Tim Keyes, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is a founder of that competition — and an advocate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding

Do Crows Sing?

It’s been said that if someone knows only three birds, one of them will be the crow. They’re common, easy to see, and even easier to hear. But crow voices are complicated. Altogether, crows may use 30 sound elements in different combinations, and one of the most intriguing is their song. Unlike... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Swallows Return to Nest

Each spring, eight species of swallows — including this Barn Swallow — migrate north from the tropics to nest in North America. Tree Swallows and Purple Martins are especially dependent on man-made nestboxes. Tree Swallows nest over much of the continent, while Purple Martins are most prevalent... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Ruddy Duck

When male and female Ruddy Ducks meet on their breeding grounds, the male gets right to strutting his stuff. The male raises his tail and his head, until his feathers look like horns. He inflates his neck and, faster and faster, strikes his chest with his bill. These blows cause the water to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Northern Saw-whet Owl - A Bird with a Lot to Say

For such a small owl, the Northern Saw-whet has a lot to say. And a lot of ways to say it. Males weigh about as much as an American Robin. And they send out at least 11 different calls, including “toot-toot-toot” advertising calls, from late January through May. The rate of calling is partly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Common Eiders Favor Close Relatives

Some species of birds try to save energy by tricking others into incubating their eggs. But if the parasitic female is a related species, she may have an advantage. After studying the nests of Common Eiders, such as the one pictured here, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting
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