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Past Shows

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Why Do Birds Come to Birdfeeders?

A tube of black oil sunflower seeds isn’t “natural”…and neither is a suet cake. Yet as soon as you hang them up, the neighborhood birds, like these female finches, find them. Those grosbeaks at your feeder probably never ate sunflower seeds in nature. Sunflowers grow in open plains, while... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding

The Early Bird

We've all heard that the early bird gets the worm. But research shows that birds dining early and heavily may lower their life expectancy. Socially dominant birds stay lean (and agile at avoiding predators) during the day, and then stoke up later, before a cold night. Subordinate birds have to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Capuchinbirds

The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken with the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre birds in South America. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Burrowing Snowbirds

Light, fluffy snow can be up to 90% trapped air — just the thing to keep birds and other animals warm. Ptarmigan spend winter nights in cozy caves they excavate in snow. During truly harsh weather, they will hunker down in their caves through the short arctic day, too. Common Redpolls break... read more »

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Gray Jays

While camping in the mountains, you might see this Gray Jay, boldly swooping into your camp. This handsome jay’s big, black eyes seem to miss nothing — especially food. But the one food Gray Jays don’t eat is conifer seeds. The jays hide other food in conifer needles and tuck it under the bark of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Gliding with Tropicbirds

With the strong, direct flight of a falcon, a tropicbird can catch a flying fish on the wing, or plunge like an arrow into the sea and — with its serrated bill — capture a squid. Three species of tropicbirds range through most of the tropical latitudes of the world's oceans, and have done so for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

Sparrows Kick, Robins Pick

If you watch backyard birds, you will likely see some characteristic behaviors. One example is "foraging" styles — the behaviors that a bird uses to find food. Some birds, such as sparrows, are famous for their "double-scratch" behavior. The bird jumps forward and back, quite quickly...twice. In... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Why Do Owls Bob Their Heads?

If you were to stand face to face with an owl, it would eventually move its head, bobbing rhythmically from side to side, then forward, then back. Or almost completely upside down. This head-bobbing action helps make up for an anatomical limitation: an owl’s eyes are fixed in position — they can... read more »

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Winter Brings Falcons

A Merlin — like this one — hunts boldly from a high perch. A Peregrine Falcon dives on a hapless pigeon, with an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour. The Gyrfalcon can fly down even the fastest waterfowl in a direct sprint. A Prairie Falcon blends in with its background. And the smallest... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

61 Tons of Robins!

In winter, flocks of American Robins spend the night together. Typically, a few dozen to a few hundred birds roost communally in trees or an old barn, or under a bridge. But larger robin roosts can number in the thousands, or even tens of thousands! In 2007, observers near St. Petersburg, Florida... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, science

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