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Past Shows

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Sound Escapes - A Jubilant Riot of Music

When he was just 22 years old, a young man named Samuel Clemens (who would go on to become the writer Mark Twain) signed on to train as a pilot on a Mississippi riverboat. He quickly realized that, if he volunteered for the early morning shift he could experience one of the most incredible... read more »

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Hearing Loss and Birds

More than 20 years ago, Professor Ed Rubel of the University of Washington discovered that chickens could repair their own damaged hearing. The birds regrow tiny structures in the inner ear, known as auditory hair cells. Most vertebrates can regenerate these cells - but mammals cannot. Studying... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Giant Owls of Cuba

The Cuban Giant Owl, now extinct, was 3½ feet tall and weighed 20 pounds — the largest of all known owls. It had very small wings, running after its prey on long, powerful legs. Similar large owls, with long legs and small wings, have been unearthed in places as disparate as Georgia and Hawaii.... read more »

Sound Escapes - Dawn on the Mississippi

The Mississippi Flyway is one of North America’s four major corridors for migrating birds. Billions of birds make their way north from Central and South America into the U.S. and Canada each spring and head south again in the fall. For a time, they join residents, including this Barred Owl.... read more »

Birds Move from Fresh to Salt Water

To hear a Common Loon in the wild during summer, you’ll need to find a northern, freshwater lake where a pair is nesting. But to find that same Common Loon in winter, you’ll likely need to look on a saltwater bay. This shift from fresh to salt water would kill most animals. But loons — along with... read more »

What Are Birds Saying with Their Crests?

A bird’s crest is made up of a slender array of feathers on top of its head. These feathers are a bit longer and can be spiked up or slicked back, depending on what the bird is trying to communicate. Even birds without crests, like crows or sparrows, sometimes puff up their short crown feathers... read more »

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Henry David Thoreau and the Wood Thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: "This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning." Wood Thrushes thrive in large expanses of forest. And their numbers have... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Eastern Wood-Pewee and Eastern Deciduous Forest

Each year, the plaintive song of the Eastern Wood-Pewee carries through the forests of eastern North America. For the past 25 years, the number of Wood-Pewees has fallen. But providing economic incentives for private landowners to save forests can help. So can enacting policies that promote smart... read more »

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Father Birds

The male hummingbird leaves the female to build the nest and raise the young alone, but other father birds are more involved. A Peregrine Falcon father shares duties almost evenly with the mother. (Stewart, seen here, nested on a Seattle skyscraper for many years.) But the male Emu of Australia... read more »

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Oxbow Lakes Are Often Rich With Birdlife

Many birds look for islands when they want to find a great nesting site, because islands are often protected from mammalian predators. Some of the best places to find islands are oxbow lakes, like many of the ones protected by the National Wildlife Refuge System. read more »

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