Past Shows

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What the Pacific Wren Hears

What does the Pacific Wren hear in a song? It's a long story. What we hear as a blur of sound, the bird hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a movie as a series of still pictures. That birds can hear the fine structure of song so acutely allows them to convey... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Little Red Spot on a Gull's Bill

In the mid-20th Century, Dutch scientist Niko Tinbergen studied nesting Herring Gulls. He noticed that newly hatched chicks were fed by their parents only after they pecked at the adults' bills. Tinbergen devised experiments that varied the shape and coloration of the adult's bill. It became... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

The Lost Bird Project

In a forest on Martha’s Vineyard, a Heath Hen struts through the brush. Columbus, Ohio, harbors a Passenger Pigeon. In Okeechobee, Florida, you can find a Carolina Parakeet. A Great Auk scans the Atlantic Ocean from atop a rock on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. A sea-going Labrador Duck rests near... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Great Horned Owl Family VI

Compared to many birds, Great Horned Owls remain with their parents a long time. They hatched in early March, from eggs laid in late January. By April, both parents were hunting through the night to feed their young. But for the last two weeks, the adults have not fed the young. The owlets have... read more »

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How High Birds Fly II

Bar-headed Geese, champions of high-altitude migration, leave their nesting grounds in Tibet and scale the Himalayan range on their way to wintering grounds in the lowlands of India. How do they do it? These geese have a breathing structure that extracts oxygen from thin air, even at 30,000 feet.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Birding Trails

Coast to coast and border to border, Birding Trails offer great opportunities to find birds. On a summer trip in New England, along the Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire, you can hear the vividly colored Blackburnian Warbler. Texas birding trails offer birds that can't be found... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Tweety Bird

Do you recall when you were a young Saturday-morning birdwatcher, learning the intricate lessons of predator-prey relationships? Twitiavis superciliosis is a small, animated yellow bird, native to Southern California. It's particularly susceptible to predation, and so has developed a complex... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  Hollywood, humor

The Swath Uncut

We might not always realize it, but our lives are intertwined with the lives of birds. Sometimes in subtle ways, and sometimes directly. Poet Kevin Black explores that relationship in A Swath Uncut, about a Canadian farmer who once depended on the geese he could hunt to feed his family, and who... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language, reflection

Ducks - Diving and Dabbling

Autumn brings many species of wintering ducks and seabirds to our waters. Watch carefully. Some dabble along the surface, feeding along shallow edges of lakes and estuaries. Others dive under the water, using their feet and occasionally their wings for propulsion. The male "dabblers" are often... read more »

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Sandhill Cranes Wait Out the Storm

At the fall equinox, gillnetter Misha Noonan would often get stuck at the far east end of the Copper River Delta, waiting out the storms. Once the storms were so unrelenting, that not only were fishermen unable to return to Cordova, but Sandhill Cranes were unable to proceed with their southeast... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration