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Past Shows

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Common Merganser

The Common Merganser is one of our biggest ducks, about the size of some loons. Although it’s not closely related to loons, it has evolved a similar overall structure and predatory behavior. But a merganser has a unique feature: tooth-like serrations along the edge of the bill that help the bird... read more »

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There's More Than One Way to Climb a Tree

No bird is better adapted for climbing up a tree trunk than a woodpecker. The foot of this Pileated Woodpecker is ideal for clinging, and its relatively short legs allow it to anchor itself securely. When traveling upward, the woodpecker’s a master. But hitching down? Not so much — usually they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Tweety Bird

Do you recall when you were a young Saturday-morning birdwatcher, learning the intricate lessons of predator-prey relationships? Twitiavis superciliosis is a small, animated yellow bird, native to Southern California. It's particularly susceptible to predation, and so has developed a complex... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  Hollywood, humor

Starlings and Roman Divination

European Starlings were present in great numbers in ancient Rome. They swarmed in massive flocks or murmurations — thousands of individuals cascading and folding in awe-inspiring geometric patterns in the sky. Roman augurs, or diviners, scrutinized these patterns for signs of how the gods were... read more »

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Whip-poor-will

In September, 1851, Henry David Thoreau wrote: "The Whip-poor-wills now begin to sing in earnest about half an hour before sunrise, as if making haste to improve the short time that is left them. As far as my observation goes, they sing for several hours in the early part of the night . . . then... read more »

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Birdwatching 103

One of the easiest ways to keep a finger on the pulse of the seasons is to keep an eye on the birds. When do the Dark-eyed Juncos (like this one) return from the mountains, ready to pick up at the birdfeeder where they left off last year? When do migratory Canada Geese fly over on an autumn... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Saving Chimneys for Vaux's Swifts

Vaux’s Swifts are perfectly adapted to lives spent in the air. They mate on the wing, and their feet and legs are so small they can’t even walk. But they can hang. So at dusk they collect along the inner walls of giant chimneys, at places like Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, migration

Binoculars and Birders' Exchange

Across Central and South America, conservationists, teachers, and researchers are benefiting from groups like Birder’s Exchange, a program of the American Birding Association. The program collects new and used binoculars, scopes, books, and tripods, and passes them on to people working to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

In Seattle, Scrub-Jays Are Here to Stay

California Scrub-Jays are moving north up the Pacific coast of North America. The crafty birds join a number of other corvids, the crow- and jay-like birds, that already call the Pacific Northwest home. As climate and weather change, and human development continues, birds everywhere are on the... read more »

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Snail Kite - Bird of the Everglades

When Florida became a state in 1845, the legislature declared the Everglades, America's largest wetland, totally worthless. In 1905, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was elected governor on a campaign to drain them. So over the years, the slowly flowing "River of Grass" has been replaced by a series of... read more »

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