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Past Shows

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A Giant Parrot of New Zealand

New Zealand was once home to a massive parrot that stood three feet tall, about hip-high to most adult humans. It’s estimated that the bird weighed around fifteen pounds, and it probably didn’t fly. But it didn’t need to, because there were no land predators at that time — between sixteen and... read more »

American Woodcock

At sunset, the male American Woodcock - a plump, robin-sized bird - walks slowly on short legs from the cover of the forest to a nearby clearing. After a few sharp calls, the woodcock takes flight. As it spirals upward, slim, stiff feathers at its wingtips create a curious twittering. At the apex... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Thomas Jefferson's Mockingbirds

Mockingbirds, masters of mimicry, are prone to ramble on and on. Sometimes they even sing at night. Thomas Jefferson kept Northern Mockingbirds in his office and sleeping quarters, while president in the early 1800s. One of Jefferson’s pet mockingbirds — named Dick— would perch on his shoulder... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

The Lark Ascending

In “The Lark Ascending,” composer Ralph Vaughan Williams conjures up a bucolic vision of pastoral England. Small fields, hedgerows, an early summer’s morning. And the display flight of a Eurasian Skylark: Alauda arvensis. The lark — not much bigger than a swallow — has been severely affected by... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  breeding display, music

Spring Rain Refreshes a Desert

Springtime in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California. Cacti and wildflowers glisten with raindrops, and birds begin to sing. A House Finch, a Bewick's Wren, a Cactus Wren, a Mourning Dove, and this Costa's Hummingbird all add their sounds.The soundscapes featured in today's... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Spider Silk - Duct Tape for Bird Nests

The spider’s web is an intricate piece of precision engineering. Made from large proteins, it’s sticky, stretchy, and tough. So it’s no surprise that many small birds — including this Anna’s Hummingbird — make a point of collecting strands of spider silk to use in nest construction. Spider silk... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

A Wide World of Crows

Crows are found on every continent except South America and Antarctica. And while there are a lot of similarities, there are a lot of differences, too. Imagine a powder-gray crow with a pink beak. There’s one thing they have in common, though: they’re all smart. read more »

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Seabirds Drink Salt Water

Seabirds have no problem drinking sea water. The salt they take in is absorbed and moves through their blood stream into a pair of salt glands above their eyes. The densely salty fluid is excreted from the nostrils and runs down grooves in the bill. As the drop gets larger, the bird shakes its... read more »

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A Cardinal That's Half Male, Half Female

In Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, people have reported seeing Northern Cardinals that are red on one side and brown on the other, indicating that a bird is half male and half female. This anomaly occurs in other species of birds, as well, not just cardinals. Insects, too! Scientists call... read more »

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Hummingbird Migration Myths

Does a hummingbird migrate by hitching a ride on the back of a goose? Not exactly. This Rufous Hummingbird may travel as much as 8,000 miles, as it makes its full migration loop. And a hummingbird can fly backward, forward, hover in one spot, or even flip upside-down momentarily. Learn more... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration

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