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Past Shows

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Swallows and Mud - A Myth?

The swallows that make mud nests in spring and catch flying insects all summer are now far south in Mexico, and Central and South America. It's only as recently as the end of the nineteenth century that ornithologists agreed that swallows, including this Cliff Swallow, migrate. Many formerly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, myth

Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jays take their name from pinyon pines. Extracting the seeds from cones, the jays fill their throats. Then they fly to a caching site, sometimes miles away, to push each seed into the leaf litter. Collectively, they cache millions of seeds, some of which sprout before they can be eaten.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening

Look Up - A Family of Falconers

For Mike Jackson, a firefighter in Washington, DC, falconry is a family affair. He learned the sport of training and hunting with birds of prey from his dad. Now, he’s a father himself, and he works with birds of prey as a way to connect with the natural world — and his kids. He hopes that when... read more »

The Great Missoula Floods

During the last ice age, part of the ice sheet covering what is now western Canada advanced far enough into Idaho to block a major waterway, now called the Clark Fork River. The ice dam backed up the river, creating a gigantic lake in (what is now) Montana. Every so often, the weight of all that... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Clark's Nutcracker - Nature's Arborist

High in the mountains, a Clark's Nutcracker buries a cache of whitebark pine seeds. This will be nearly its sole source of food until the next summer. But some of those cached seeds will germinate, spawning a small grove of pines. Whitebark pines are one of more than 20 species of pines worldwide... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening

Big She, Little He (in Raptors)

In many birds, plumage is often the easiest way to tell males from females. But in raptors, size is often the best indicator of sex. In many bird and mammal species, males are larger than females. But in birds of prey, including Ospreys, hawks, falcons and eagles, the rule is reversed. It’s... read more »

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Meet the Blue Jay

If we had to pick one bird’s voice to symbolize our Eastern woodlands, the Blue Jay’s voice would likely be it. And as a frequent visitor to back yards and bird feeders, the Blue Jay is among the most recognized birds of the region. Nearly a foot long, Blue Jays can be loud and assertive when... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound

Shorebirds Aren't Always on the Shore

Shorebirds' lives take them to many places other than the shore. Most of the shorebirds we see along our coasts migrate to the Arctic in summer. Here, many nest on the tundra, some along rushing streams, and others on rocky mountainsides. Long-billed Curlews winter on the Florida, Gulf, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Who Likes Suet?

Chickadees and titmice, nuthatches and jays, and woodpeckers, like the Pileated pictured here, all love suet. As do birds whose beaks can’t open seeds, like tiny kinglets, and almost any wintering warbler. The Brown Creeper, usually creeping up tree trunks, is a cool bird to discover at your suet... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, birdfeeding

Spark Bird: A Lifetime in Science

When he was just a kid, Gordon Orians kept notebooks about the birds he saw. And then he realized he could make discoveries – he could add to the body of knowledge and contribute to science. That opened a whole new world to him, and he has spent the rest of his life studying birds and the natural... read more »

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