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Past Shows

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Vernal Equinox - West

Ahhh, the first day of spring . . . at last! And the birds know somethin' is up. Both science and folklore tie Spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long cold winter. Here's a Virginia Rail, usually unseen but hardly unheard, ringing in the new season. Spring has sprung.... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Homing Pigeons

Pigeon fanciers from around the world race specially bred homing pigeons over distances up to 600 miles. These stalwart and intelligent birds course the skies at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour. In 2005, a homing pigeon flying home to a loft in Norfolk, Virginia earned the record for that... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  history

The Mockingbird - A Virtuoso of Variety

This aptly named Northern Mockingbird might imitate, in succession, birds as different as a bobwhite quail, a chat, a sandpiper — even a cardinal — then cap it off with the meow of a cat and a few phrases of car alarm. In spring, a male mockingbird sings all day, with hundreds of variations ... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  sound, species account, vocalization

Amazing Pied-billed Grebe

The small, nondescript Pied-billed Grebe has an astonishing talent. The grebe is the master of its own buoyancy. It can squeeze out both the air trapped in its feathers and in its internal air-sacs and sink effortlessly. Learn more about the amazing, sinking Pied-billed Grebe at Cornell's... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  Hollywood

The Great Horned Owl Nest

When Great Horned Owl eggs hatch, the downy owlets are the size of newborn chickens. Their mother broods them day and night. A few weeks later, the owlets can be left alone while both adults resume hunting at twilight. Great Horned Owl young remain in the nest for about six weeks, then climb out... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Walking on Eggshells

Walking on eggshells usually means dealing with something delicate, fragile. But eggs are far from fragile. An egg has to be strong enough to withstand the weight of an adult bird during incubation. But the tiny, weak baby bird within has to be able to peck its way out. Is it true that if you... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  language

Why Birds Sing

Why do birds sing? Ornithologists have learned that the longer hours of light that come with spring trigger the release of hormones in birds. These hormones prompt the enlargement of the birds' gonads which, in turn, stimulate male birds to sing. Male birds - like this Black-headed Grosbeak - can... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting, vocalization

Biomimicry - Japanese Trains Mimic Kingfisher

High-speed passenger trains in Japan were once a real headache, because their engineering caused a "tunnel boom," a huge boom created by air being pushed out of the tunnel ahead of a train. But the chief engineer for the West Japan Railway Company was a birder, and he’d seen Eurasian... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  science

Snatching Berries on the Wing

When American Robins gather to pluck berries, you can expect to see a lot of fluttering. The robins are heavy, making it a lot harder to perch and creep along a thin stem. And they have long, strong legs because they spend so much time walking and hopping on the ground in search of food. An easy... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

The Nightingale

From Hans Christian Andersen... Long ago, in an emperor's garden, lived a Nightingale. The emperor ordered the bird to be brought to him, and she was locked in a golden cage. When the emperor received a mechanical Nightingale, the real Nightingale was banished. Years later, the emperor lay dying.... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  myth

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