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Past Shows

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William Turner and the First Bird Book

The first printed bird book, The Principal Birds of Aristotle and Pliny, was published in 1544. Written by the English physician and naturalist William Turner, the book is noteworthy for its inclusion of Turner’s personal observations — a real innovation at a time when ancient authorities held... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Wilson's Warblers Benefit from Shade-grown Coffee

Early this fall, the tiny Wilson's Warbler began its long migration to Belize, where it winters. Navigating by the stars, the 1/4-ounce bird made a series of night flights spanning more than 2500 miles. This warbler returns to the same coffee plantation each year. Taller trees that shade the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

A Bird in the Hand

You’ve probably heard the old saying: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Well, it’s a very old saying, and it’s gone through some changes over the years. In each era, the pragmatic wisdom is clear: Hold on to the sure thing rather than taking a gamble on something better. The saying... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language

Margaret Morse Nice and the Song Sparrow

Few backyard birds in North America are more widespread than the Song Sparrow. But it was the study of this seemingly unremarkable bird that helped shape modern ornithology. In 1928, Margaret Morse Nice began carefully observing Song Sparrows near Columbus, Ohio, where she lived. For eight years,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology

Rock Sandpipers Are Tough - Homer Spit Christmas Bird Count

It's winter on Homer Spit in southern Alaska, and Rock Sandpipers feed along the gravelly shore. These small shorebirds probe for food. Anything that moves is fair game, especially amphipods, the little crustaceans that hop about when exposed. The sandpipers also snap up clams, snails, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, citizen science

Why Some Birds Sing in the Winter

By late January, some resident birds, such as the Northern Mockingbird, are beginning their spring singing. When you step outside on a particularly sunny day this winter, a Fox Sparrow like the one pictured here may be warming up for the coming spring. And as far north as British Columbia,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Wingspan - A Stealth Ecology Lesson

The board game Wingspan came out this year to a lot of buzz. The bird-themed game is fun — but it’s also having a surprising impact. It’s gotten nonbirders hooked on birds. And it’s also gotten birders hooked on board games. Meanwhile, everybody’s learning something!For more great stories, check... read more »

The Majestic Gyrfalcon

Gyrfalcons are the largest falcons in the world, with a wingspan of almost four feet and weighing almost five pounds. The name “Gyrfalcon” derives from an Old Norse word for “spear.” During the summer, you’ll find Gyrfalcons on the tundra, where they feed on arctic birds. But in the winter, some... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Birds and Bird Conservation Matter - Interview with David Yarnold

We asked David Yarnold, President of National Audubon, why bird conservation matters. He says that preserving wild places and preserving the links in nature's chains allow wildlife to thrive. Where birds thrive, you're going to have clean water and clean air, and that's good for kids, and it's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

The Pecking Order

Birds in flocks almost invariably develop a pecking order. An alpha chicken can peck any other in the flock, and a beta chicken can peck all others but the alpha bird. Juncos and other small birds have a pecking order, too. The pecking order - or dominance hierarchy - of a flock of birds is... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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