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Past Shows

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Three Brown Thrushes

The Swainson's Thrush, the Hermit Thrush, and the Veery are small, brown birds, but their songs clearly distinguish them. The Swainson's Thrush announces its presence in early spring with subtle, limpid "whit" or "wink" sounds. Many rate it among the finest singers. A Veery's phrases... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound, vocalization

America's Love of the Lawn

According to NASA, there are about 63,000 square miles of lawn in the US — nearly enough to cover the state of Wisconsin. That’s bad news, because most birds (other than this European Starling) prefer shrubs that provide food and cover. And lawns suck up fertilizers, herbicides, fossil fuels, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Singing Sandpipers

We've all seen sandpipers foraging busily on mudflats or at the ocean's edge. But this Lesser Yellowlegs often carols from the top of a tall conifer in its nesting territory in Alaska. The name "sandpiper" actually comes from the voices of these birds, rather than from their long-billed probing... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet Tunes Up

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is one of the smallest songbirds on the continent, weighing in at just a little more than half a chickadee. Mostly green and hard to spot, it hovers in mid-air as it catches tiny insects. In early spring, the kinglet's rollicking song echoes from the forest edge in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Nest Building

Want to try building a nest? Consider this... An average American Robin weighs less than three ounces. An average person weighs 170 pounds, or 1,000 times as much as a robin. A robin's nest, made of grass and mud, weighs about seven ounces, so yours will weigh 450 pounds. You'll need to collect... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Silly Willow Ptarmigan

Some bird songs leave us in admiration of their beauty, some with a sense of wonder at their complexity—and others are downright comical. As a maker of silly sounds, the male Willow Ptarmigan beats the Three Stooges hands down. But these sounds are no laughing matter. Where it nests in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, vocalization

Probing with Sandpipers

The variety of bill sizes and shapes among the sandpipers is astounding! Many sandpipers have sensitive nerve receptors in their bill tips, so they can find unseen prey through touch, odor, and pressure changes. Those sandpipers with long, straight bills - like this Long-billed Dowitcher - are... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Color of Birds' Eyes

Peer into the world of birds, and eyes of many different colors peer back. While eye color isn’t tied to one group of birds or another, a common pattern is a change in eye color as immature birds grow to adulthood. Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, and ducks such as goldeneyes and scaup have brown... read more »

The Marsh Wren

Some bird-lovers have tagged the Marsh Wren the "Heinz-57 variety bird," because scientists have recorded 57 different variations of its song. And nightfall doesn't faze them. A male may sing straight through the night. Marsh Wrens usually forage out of view, hopping up only for brief moments.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Hovering with Horned Larks

Horned Larks rival meadowlarks as the most colorful birds of North American grasslands. They live in prairies, fields, and tundra, but agriculture and development now intrude on many of the Horned Lark's traditional nesting areas. The farmland Conservation Reserve Program encourages agricultural... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display
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