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Past Shows

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Bobolinks and Grasslands

Male Bobolinks are first to arrive on their breeding grounds in the grasslands. Why are there fewer Bobolinks than in decades past? Probably because the landscape of North America has changed so much. Bobolinks originally nested on native prairies of the Midwest and southern Canada. Much of the... read more »

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Salmonberry Bird

The native names of birds sometimes distill the essence of their appearance or behavior. In the Cherokee language, for instance, the Meadowlark is called "star," because of the way the bird's tail spreads out when it soars. To the Northwest Coastal people, this Swainson's Thrush is known as the ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Rufous Hummingbirds' Marvelous Nest

The nest-building skills of the female Rufous Hummingbird are amazing. She first weaves a cup of soft, fluffy plant material, then envelops it with moss and binds it with strands of spider web. The final touch: a layer of lichen flakes to provide perfect camouflage. A favorite nest site is the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

The Diminutive Downy Woodpecker

As part of their spring courtship, Downy Woodpeckers perform a spectacular "butterfly flight." The birds seem to dance in the air, holding their wings high, and flapping slowly and lazily like butterflies. It's the smallest woodpecker in North America, and you might miss it, as it pecks for... read more »

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Preening 101

If a bird’s feathers get too dried out, they become brittle. To prevent that from happening, most birds have a gland located above the base of the tail that produces oil. They use their beaks to massage oil from the gland into their feathers to keep them supple. A bird first grips a feather in... read more »

Larkspurs: Flowers and Birds

Open a flower guide, and you may find larkspur, owl’s clover, parrot’s beak, wake-robin, peacock plant, and storksbill. And there’s chickweed, hawkweed, ragged robin, cuckoo flower, and hens-and-chicks. At least one flower packs in two bird names: the dove’s-foot cranesbill. There are still more.... read more »

Lazuli Bunting

With its beautiful colors, the Lazuli Bunting might just have inspired Navajo artists. In summer, these beautiful singers inhabit the brushy canyons of Western mountains. And where the Lazuli Bunting sings, you'll often hear the music of Vesper Sparrows and Western Meadowlarks. read more »

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Do Alligators Protect Herons?

Raccoons sometimes invade nesting colonies of herons, spoonbills, and other wading birds to eat their eggs and chicks. But some of these birds have found ways to deter the masked bandits. Researchers in the Everglades found wading birds including Great Blue Herons and Roseate Spoonbills, among... read more »

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Spring Serenade in the Ozarks, With Steve Hilty

The Buffalo National River in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas was the first "national river" in the US. The river, part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, runs undammed for 135 miles. Its forest habitat is a great place for birds and other wildlife. There are at least 18 species of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection, sound

Galápagos Archipelago - Melville's Encantadas

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, described the Galápagos, a group of volcanic islands in the Pacific, as: "an archipelago of aridities, without inhabitant, history, or hope of either in all time to come." Charles Darwin also found the Galápagos' stark landscape on first view hellish to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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