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Past Shows

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Audubon and the Ruby-throat

Strictly birds of the Americas, hummingbirds don't exist in the Old World. John James Audubon, the French naturalist who spent his adult life studying and painting the birds of North America, saw only this Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a bird of eastern North America. Audubon described the Ruby... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Dunlins and Peregrines

In a dramatic and sometimes deadly aerial ballet, a Peregrine Falcon dives on a flock of Dunlins. Seeking escape, the shorebirds flash white and dark, rippling through the sky.  This dance has changed dramatically since the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1973. As the number of peregrines on... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Kipukas and Akis

One of Hawaii’s rarest forest birds is this ‘Akiapola’au. Some of the roughly 1,000 'Akis left on earth live and breed in kipukas on the lower slopes of Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s largest active volcano. A kipuka is an island of native forest surrounded not by water but by recent lava flows - a green... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

White-headed Woodpecker

The White-headed Woodpecker is widely scattered and nowhere common in the Pacific Northwest. Like other woodpeckers, the White-headed Woodpecker digs out juicy insect larvae from the trees by pounding with its sharp bill. But by holding its bill at an angle, the White-headed Woodpecker... read more »

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Robins Are Very Choosy Nesters

When scientists looked at climate data for more than 8,500 robins’ nests in the US, they found that robins will nest only if the mean noon temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. But even more critical is relative humidity: it needs to be around 50 percent in the middle of the day. What’s so... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, ecology, nesting, science

Three Buntings - Indigo, Lazuli, and Painted

Each spring and summer, Indigo Buntings sing their buzzy, jumbled songs from brushy edges throughout the Eastern US. West of the Rockies, a different bunting sings his song. Named for the gemstone lapis lazuli, a male Lazuli Bunting shimmers an iridescent azure. He looks as if he might have been... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  plumage, vocalization

Summer Solstice - Dawn Songs

On the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, birds across the North American continent greet the dawn — from the Florida Keys and the marshes of Chesapeake Bay, from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, home of this Audubon's Oriole, and the great plains of North Dakota, to the mountains of... read more »

Do Woodpeckers Harpoon Their Prey?

Because many woodpeckers have pointed tongues, it was once assumed that they “harpoon” their prey. But what they actually do is more complex. Like a safe-cracker in a movie, birds like this Hairy Woodpecker use a killer combination of sensitivity and force. First, as it scales a tree trunk, the... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Megapodes - Mound-Builders

There’s a group of birds that lay their eggs underground — in geothermally heated burrows, or  warm sands, or even mounds of organic material warmed by the heat of decomposition. These megapodes or mound-builders — like this Australian Brushturkey — are found in Australia, New Guinea, and... read more »

A Rufous in the Rain

In a garden near the McKenzie River in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, a downpour pummels the landscape. Imagine a Rufous Hummingbird, like this male, out and about, extracting nectar, searching for gnats and aphids. A hummingbird's stamina against the heavy rain is marvelous. Consider this: its body... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration
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