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Past Shows

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Most Kingfishers Don't Fish

In North America, kingfishers fish. But in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia, most of the roughly 90 species of kingfishers don’t “fish.” They hunt in woodlands, where the smaller ones, like the four-inch Pygmy Kingfisher, eat grasshoppers and centipedes. Larger kingfishers will... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Aldo Leopold and the Field Sparrows

The Field Sparrow was the first bird song Aldo Leopold awoke to on his farm in the 1940s. In his Sand County Almanac, a classic of conservation and nature writing, Leopold brought to life scenes of nature, a month at a time. Field Sparrows aren't as common today as they were in Aldo Leopold's day... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

If It Weren't for Birds

If it weren't for birds, how many of us would take notice of the natural world? Birds are all around us. In our back yards or driving across country, most of the animals we see are birds. Many draw attention with their songs. Some birds hunt on the wing, and you'll see one if you watch the sky.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, reflection

Adaptations for Flight

Birds evolved not only wings, but many other adaptations that make it possible to fly. Feathers provide insulation, waterproofing, and a lightweight means to become airborne. Birds have honeycombed or hollow bones, reducing body weight. And instead of weighty jawbones and teeth, birds evolved a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Puffins - Clowns of the Sea

Puffins are icons of the seabird world. With clown-like faces and huge, multicolored bills, they stand upright on sea cliffs along the northern oceans. Tufted Puffins nest on islands and rough coastlines, from the Channel Islands of Southern California across the north Pacific to Siberia. The... read more »

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Okefenokee Swamp and Prothonotary Warbler

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was set aside to protect the fabled Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia and Florida. Tall cypress trees and Spanish moss give the swamp a prehistoric appearance. The Prothonotary Warbler is one of the most striking of the swamp’s denizens. Having wintered in the... read more »

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Poorwills at Night

Close kin to the Whip-poor-will, the nocturnal Poorwill can be heard in summer in canyons at the deep end of dusk. And the Common Poorwill's greatest claim to fame? It was the first bird confirmed to hibernate, based on evidence verified in 1946. Since then, we have learned that Lewis and Clark,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

Flyin' in the Rain

Most birds are mostly waterproof. Their feathers, combined with oil from preen glands, keep them pretty watertight. So why do birds avoid flying during rainstorms? It may have more to do with the air than with the water. Rainstorms tend to occur when atmospheric pressure is low. Air in a low... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Gray Jay - Picnic Bird

Often called the Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack, the mountain-dwelling Gray Jay will crash a picnic faster than hungry ants. The robber escapes with edible tidbits and caches them in trees with its sticky saliva, reclaiming its stored food in the cold, snowy winter. The nickname "Whiskey Jack" comes... read more »

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Endangered Plovers

Strolling at sunset along the ocean beach at California's Morro Bay or Washington's Leadbetter Point, you hear a male Snowy Plover. At Milford Point in Connecticut, you might hear a Piping Plover. Plovers are threatened in much of their coastal ranges. Conservation efforts are afoot on the... read more »

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