Past Shows

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The Amazing, Head-turning Owl

An owl's seeming ability to rotate its head in a complete circle is downright eerie. An owl's apparent head rotation is part illusion, part structural design. Because its eyes are fixed in their sockets, it must rotate its neck to look around. It can actually rotate its head about 270 degrees – a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

When Starlings Cheat

When Hank Williams wrote Your Cheatin' Heart, birds probably weren't on his mind. But researchers have found evidence of what we might call "infidelity" in birds. Scientists in east Africa learned that female Superb Starlings often seem to have "cheatin'" on their minds. Superb Starlings live in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

The Crows' Night Roost

Have you noticed groups of crows flying overhead in the late afternoon, wheeling and diving? These are American Crows with a purpose. They're headed to their night roost, a giant slumber party. Up to 40,000 crows in one space is not uncommon for a winter-time roost. Gathering at dusk, crows land... read more »

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Some of My Best Friends Are Salt Marshes

Riding the train west to New Haven or New York, you pass salt marshes with old and evocative names like The Saw Pit, Great Harbor, and Old Quarry. Watch for marsh birds - yellowlegs, sandpipers, Snowy Egrets. In the fall, you may find Northern Pintails, teal, and Black Ducks, like this one. We... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

The Hardy Harlequin

Some ducks don't sound like ducks at all. Some, like the Harlequin, squeak. Harlequins are unique in other ways, too. Quick and agile in rushing white water, they dive to the bottom of mountain streams for food, and use fast-flowing rivers for breeding. If you're lucky enough to spot a Harlequin... read more »

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Raven, Dog, Bone

Ravens are crafty! BirdNote listener Gary Cummins tells a story about the intelligence of ravens. When he worked at Grand Canyon National Park, Gary had a Siberian husky named Tasha. When two ravens saw her with a tasty bone, they teamed up on her. One raven acted distressed, hopping slowly,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  listener story

Gull Identification I

Relatively few gull species are common nesters in the Lower 48. But in October, both the variety and number of gulls increase dramatically. Gulls that nested in Alaska or Canada fly south to spend winter in more temperate climates. Western Gulls are present in the West all year, mostly near the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Pileated Applepeckers

It's autumn, and apples have begun to fall, although many remain on the trees. In full view of its offspring, an adult Pileated Woodpecker stabs a tasty apple treat. After it feeds, it flies to a nearby tree. Alone now, the youngster repeats what it's seen, knocking apples to the ground until it... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Cape May in October

Cape May Autumn Birding Festival, October 24 - 26!Cape May is one of the most famous birding destinations in the US. And October may be the most exciting month of all to watch birds there. It's hawk migration! Cape May lies at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, on a peninsula that divides... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding

Geese in V-formation

Autumn … and geese fly high overhead in V-formation. But what about that V-formation, angling outward through the sky? This phenomenon – a kind of synchronized, aerial tailgating – marks the flight of flocks of larger birds, like geese or pelicans. Most observers believe that each bird behind the... read more »

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