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Past Shows

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Shorebirds - Masters of Long-Distance Migration

Dr. Dennis Paulson, BirdNote’s chief science advisor, is an expert on shorebirds. He says new technology is revealing fascinating information about migration routes. (For instance, the alpha-alpha flag, unique to this Whimbrel, tells us the bird was banded in Canada.) For many shorebirds,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

National Symbol - Turkey vs. Eagle

As an old tale goes, after the eagle was chosen for national emblem, Benjamin Franklin questioned the choice. In a letter to his daughter regarding a medal created by the Society of the Cincinnati, he wrote wrily: "The Bald Eagle is too lazy to fish for himself; when the Osprey has taken a fish .... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

The Big Thicket - America's Ark

Tucked away in southeast Texas is one of the most remarkable enclaves of nature. Known as The Big Thicket, this region is home to ten different ecosystems, including cypress bayous, arid sandylands, palmetto thickets, pine forests, marshes, and grasslands. The variety of natural landscapes... read more »

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Wrens from North to South

There are nearly ninety species of wrens in the world, and quite a few are exceptional singers. Nearly all of them reside in the Western Hemisphere, with the majority living in Central and South America. The White-bellied Wren ranks among the tiniest, at just under four inches, while the Giant... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrikes are found across much of the United States in open country, like pasture and sagebrush. Male shrikes are well known for impaling their prey on thorns, creating a larder that may help impress potential mates. But pesticides and the loss of habitat to residential and commercial... read more »

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Tallgrass Prairie

Tallgrass prairie, a sea of grass, once stretched from Manitoba to Texas, a landscape of almost unimaginable natural abundance. Heading west, Lewis and Clark came upon savannahs as far as the eye could see, covered with herds of bison, elk, pronghorn, and deer. Only a tiny fraction of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Begging Sounds and Postures

After young birds have left the nest and can fly short distances, they still follow their parents and beg for food. They squawk and assume a begging posture, wings drooping and head hunched down. Most young birds, including this European Starling, depend on their parents for days, weeks, or even... read more »

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How Do Birds Brake from Flight?

Birds are often admired for their ability to fly. But braking just in time to avoid a crash landing is amazing by itself. How does a robin go from full-out flight to a dead stop at a tree? If we could watch in slow motion, we’d see it raising the angle of its wings higher and higher from the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Summer Tanagers: Wasp Hunters

Summer Tanagers snatch bees and wasps in mid-air, as they buzz about. Bug in beak, the bird flies to a perch, slams the insect against a branch until it’s dead, then wipes it against the branch to remove the stinger before eating it. Summer Tanagers will also tear open paper-like wasp nests to... read more »

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California Quail, Up and Running

The most distinctive characteristic of the California Quail is the black, forward-facing topknot that juts out from its forehead like a small flag. The California Quail – the state bird of California – builds its nest right on the ground. Almost immediately after hatching, the precocial chicks... read more »

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