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Past Shows

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Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrows are abundant in open habitats throughout North America. In spring, they migrate north from the Southern US and Mexico to open agricultural fields, meadows, coastal grasslands, saltmarshes, and even tundra to breed and raise young. They nest on the ground and walk, run, or hop to... read more »

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Steller's Birds

In July, 1741, Georg Wilhelm Steller set foot on land later known as Alaska, the first European to do so. Steller was a German naturalist on the St. Peter, a Russian ship exploring the Bering Sea. He was shipwrecked on Bering Island for over a year, and later wrote a book about the creatures that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Gaping Blackbirds

Gordon Orians describes an unusual adaptation in blackbirds called gaping: "...the ability to forcibly open the bill against some pressure, so that a bird can push its bill into the base of a grass clump, and forcibly open it, which reveals the insects that may be down hidden in the base. ...... read more »

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Birdwatching 104 - A Summary

How do birdwatchers identify one species from another? First, they look carefully at the bird. What's the overall color? Is its bill long or short, thin or stout? What about its markings -- a ring around its eye or stripe on its head? What's your bird doing? Bird behavior can help you sort out... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Birds That Say Their Own Names

Some birds, such as the Northern Bobwhite, take their names from their songs or vocalizations: "Bobwhite! Bobwhite!" The Killdeer is another bird named for its song: "Kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee." There are others. "Poorwill, poorwill, poorwill" calls this Common Poorwill. This bird is the... read more »

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Kentucky Warbler

Kentucky Warblers nest in forested regions in much of the East, preferring woodlands with a dense understory, often near streams or other wetlands. These birds can use our help. As their forest habitat shrinks, it’s easier for Brown-headed Cowbirds to find and parasitize the warblers’ nests.... read more »

Grosbeaks and Monarchs

Black-headed Grosbeaks are one of very few birds that regularly eat Monarch butterflies. Most birds and other animals find the butterflies unpalatable, if not downright toxic. The caterpillars of Monarchs consume milkweeds that contain toxic substances known as cardenolides. The poison is stored... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Sounds of the Boreal Forest

The boreal forest is a vast band of spruce and poplar, extending from coast to coast across Alaska and Canada. Called North America's "songbird bread-basket," for a brief time, it teems with song. Birdsongs heard on this show include a Common Loon (like this one), Swainson's Thrush, White... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, vocalization

White-throated Swifts

A pair of White-throated Swifts twists and turns, sailing through the air. Dashing headlong across the canyon toward an unyielding wall, the birds disappear at the last second into a slender crevice. This swift is aptly named — and doubly so. The White-throated Swift is among the fastest of all... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Are Birds Nests Reused?

Let’s talk about nests. Every spring, robins build their cup-shaped nests using grass and mud. Orioles weave a hanging sack. It’s hard work, and yet once the chicks fledge, the structures probably won’t be reused. But bigger birds, such as herons, hawks, and eagles, often reuse a nest for many... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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