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Past Shows

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Frank Bellrose and the Wood Ducks

In the 1800s, Wood Ducks were possibly the most abundant ducks east of the Mississippi. But the draining of wetlands, the cutting of forests, and market hunting caused precipitous declines. In 1918, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act completely banned the hunting of Wood Ducks for 23 years. This... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Sunning with Doves

A Mourning Dove lies belly down on the soil of a garden bed. It fluffs its feathers, then relaxes its wings, draping them outward to expose fully its back and rump to the morning sun. A great many birds sun themselves, often in postures that give maximum sun exposure to the head, neck, and upper... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

The Lark Ascending

In “The Lark Ascending,” composer Ralph Vaughan Williams conjures up a bucolic vision of pastoral England. Small fields, hedgerows, an early summer’s morning. And the display flight of a Eurasian Skylark: Alauda arvensis. The lark — not much bigger than a swallow — has been severely affected by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, music

Sharp-tailed Grouse on a Lek

During spring at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, male Sharp-tailed Grouse  - like the one pictured here - perform their elaborate mating dances on a matted patch of ground called a lek. They stomp their feet, extend their wings, and zip around the lek. Then, in an instant,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, science

Hummingbird Migration Myths

Does a hummingbird migrate by hitching a ride on the back of a goose? Not exactly. This Rufous Hummingbird may travel as much as 8,000 miles, as it makes its full migration loop. And a hummingbird can fly backward, forward, hover in one spot, or even flip upside-down momentarily. Learn more... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Color of Birds' Eyes

Peer into the world of birds, and eyes of many different colors peer back. While eye color isn’t tied to one group of birds or another, a common pattern is a change in eye color as immature birds grow to adulthood. Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, and ducks such as goldeneyes and scaup have brown... read more »

Bird Songs of April

The month of April inspires poets, sometimes with contradictory results. Poet TS Eliot describes April as "the cruelest month." Shakespeare strikes an upbeat note, writing "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." Let April speak for itself. Listen to the birds. In Southeastern Alaska,... read more »

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Tanagers - Coffee Birds

This Scarlet Tanager (R), its cousin the Western Tanager (L), and your latte have a connection. Much of the birds' prime wintering habitat has been turned into coffee plantations. When shade-giving trees are cut down to grow coffee in direct sunlight, the tanagers' winter habitat is also removed.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

American Robin, Valiant Challenger

The male American Robin - fiercely territorial - belts out its distinctive cheery song to defend its breeding territory from invasion by other robins. Sometimes, the robin sees its own reflection as an interloper and challenges the “invader” over and over, even to the point of exhaustion or... read more »

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Walk Down an Arroyo

Arroyo means "stream" in Spanish. With mesquite, yucca, and cactus along their edges, arroyos in the Southwest fill with water only a few times a year, mostly during the heavy rains of late summer. There's a remarkable diversity of wildlife here, including this Pyrrhuloxia. Birds here are most... read more »

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