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vocalization

Blackbirds' Strange Music

Blackbird songs have a strange music. The Red-winged Blackbird can be heard in nearly every marsh on the continent — bold, brassy, and piercing. The songs may not seem musical, but they definitely get your attention. Brewer’s Blackbirds, which live in open habitats like farms and grasslands, make... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Fairy-Wrens - To Duel or Duet?

The Red-backed Fairy-Wren, a tiny songbird living the Australian scrublands, is highly territorial and promiscuous. The male can’t be sure the eggs in his nest are his own. One way to help avoid this problem? The male may rough up a rival who approaches his territory. But research shows when Red... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, vocalization

Golden-crowned Sparrows in the Klondike

Words help us identify birds by vocalizations. Like the towhee's "Drink your tea,” or the Great Horned Owl’s “Who’s awake? Me, too…” Then there are the sweet, clear whistles of the Golden-crowned Sparrow. In the late 1890s, the gold prospectors of the Yukon may have imagined they were singing: ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Decoy - Shrike Trickery

Northern Shrikes are unapologetically cool, with their black masks, elegant gray plumage, and predatory lifestyle. But these little raptors, although technically songbirds, sometimes sound less than appealing. Two species of shrike — the Loggerhead and the Northern — are widespread in North... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

New Sam Peabody

In late winter, White-throated Sparrows erupt into song, easily set to human words: “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” Or “Oh, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.” But something changed since those classic memory aids were coined. Sixty years later, the bird sings a simpler, shorter song. Bird song,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Thomas Jefferson's Mockingbirds

Mockingbirds, masters of mimicry, are prone to ramble on and on. Sometimes they even sing at night. Thomas Jefferson kept Northern Mockingbirds in his office and sleeping quarters, while president in the early 1800s. One of Jefferson’s pet mockingbirds — named Dick— would perch on his shoulder... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

Vernal Equinox

Today marks the Vernal Equinox. And birds are singing in the new season. Listen to the sounds of the Greater Prairie-Chicken, Limpkin, Vesper Sparrow, Black Scoter, Horned Lark, Sandhill Crane, Western Meadowlark, Black Oystercatcher, and Western Screech-Owl.Today’s show is brought to you by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Cactus Wren's Signature Voice

Most wrens in North America are small, furtive birds that stay deep in the vegetation. But the Cactus Wren is large, bold, and brassy. These wrens are well adapted to the desert and can get all the moisture they need from their food. Cactus Wren nests are a regular sight in their range of dry... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Sounds of Nine Special Birds

Can't get enough bird sounds? Enjoy a full minute of beautiful sounds of Cerulean, Golden-cheeked, Swainson's and Kirtland's Warblers, plus the Piping Plover, Lark Bunting, American Golden-Plover, Black-capped Vireo, and Olive-sided Flycatcher, recorded throughout North America, from Texas to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, sound, vocalization

Cisticolas - Chirping, Croaking, and More

This Zitting Cisticola is a little brown bird from a big family of fifty-odd species. Its simple but cheerful song is familiar to people around the Mediterranean. In Africa, where most species of cisticolas are found, they occupy just about any open habitat, from marshlands to agricultural fields... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

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