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Past Shows

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Great Tinamou, Eerie Voice in the Jungle

The eerie sound of the Great Tinamou can be heard in the lowland jungle throughout much of Central and South America. Secretive — and almost impossible to see — Great Tinamous call early and late in the day. And their voices carry a long distance. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Red-winged Blackbird Harem

As spring begins, the male Red-winged Blackbird brandishes his red epaulets to warn other males away from his patch of cattails. At the same time, he sings to lure females into his marsh...many females, in fact. One male may attract up to a dozen females. The male is dressed for defending his... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting

Dawn Song - Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson: "The Birds begun at Four o'clock..." As the first rays of sunlight fill the trees on a spring morning, a symphony of birdsong erupts. As early morning light extinguishes the stars, male birds begin to belt out their songs. One of the magical gifts of spring is the dawn song.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection, vocalization

Syrinx and the Satyr

Birdsong owes its beauty and variety to a complex structure called the syrinx. The name comes from an ancient Greek story. Syrinx was a beautiful wood nymph, and she was trying to escape the advances of the satyr Pan. Just as Pan caught her, Syrinx was transformed into reeds. And Pan was left... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth, vocalization

Elf Owl

By late February or March, Elf Owls depart Mexico to breed in the US. These miniscule owls weigh less than an ounce and a half — a bit less than a golf ball. During the breeding season, Elf Owls live in woodlands and desert cactus habitats from southwest Texas into southern Arizona. And they’re... read more »

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Spring, The Sky Rippled with Geese - With Maria Schneider

Birds provide a lot of inspiration for composer Maria Schneider, whose album titled Winter Morning Walks won three Grammy awards in 2014. One song from that album, “Spring, The Sky Rippled With Geese,” features Ted Kooser’s poem of the same title. Here’s what Maria says about spring: “That’s my... read more »

Drumming with Woodpeckers - West

Early spring in the West resounds with the percussive hammering of woodpeckers. Their rhythmic drumming functions as other birds' songs do, to broadcast over a long distance a clear statement of territory and mating rights. Learn about this Pileated Woodpecker and the others in this show - the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

Bearded Vultures Return Home to Europe

With its enormous size and black tuft of a beard, the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, has a stark appearance. These distinctive birds erroneously acquired a reputation for killing livestock and stealing babies, which led to relentless persecution and eventual disappearance from much of Europe.... read more »

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Vernal Equinox

Today marks the Vernal Equinox. And birds are singing in the new season. Listen to the sounds of the Greater Prairie-Chicken, Limpkin, Vesper Sparrow, Black Scoter, Horned Lark, Sandhill Crane, Western Meadowlark, Black Oystercatcher, and Western Screech-Owl.This story was also produced with... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

New Zealand's Kakapo

The Kakapo of New Zealand is a kind of parrot, but one that doesn’t fly. At five pounds, it’s the world’s heaviest parrot. And like many parrots, it’s long-lived -- up to 90 years. Still, the species is highly endangered. These odd parrots evolved in an island world that lacked terrestrial... read more »

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