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Past Shows

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August Molt

By August, many birds have just completed the intense rigors of nesting and raising young and now undergo a complete molt. Molt is a cyclic process of feather growth. As new feathers grow in, they push the old ones out. Why molt? Because feathers wear out. Songbirds that migrate long distances... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Swallow or Swift?

At a glance, swallows and swifts, both graceful fliers, look much alike. But swifts — like this Chimney Swift — have longer, slimmer wings and short bodies, enabling them to glide for long periods. Their glides are punctuated by rapid, stiff bursts of wing-beats. Swallows, on the other hand, flex... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching, flight

Pied-billed Grebes - With Martin Muller

Birds, while guided by instinct, seem able to adapt to specific situations. Martin Muller is an expert on waterbirds called Pied-billed Grebes. One spring day, on an urban lake in Seattle, Martin observed a pair of grebes switching roles in order to protect their young and defend their territory.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Shifts in Habitat = Shifts in Species

We asked David Sibley, creator and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, how changes in the environment are affecting birds such as this Brown Thrasher. He says, “A shift of habitat has caused a shift in the species” he's observed in the Northeastern US. For example, Wild Turkeys, Pileated... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Birds and Robots

One of the things airplane pilots worry about most is birds colliding with their planes, possibly causing an accident. Preventing bird strikes is a serious concern. Many airports resort to killing birds that might pose a threat. But the airport in Edmonton, Alberta, has found a more humane... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

One Square Inch of Silence

Gordon Hempton, the Sound Tracker, seeks those rare places untouched by human noise, where birds and nature create a complex, quiet music. In the Hoh Valley, in a rain forest in Olympic National Park, is a place he calls One Square Inch of Silence. It’s the least noise-polluted place in all of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, recording

Roadrunner

The Greater Roadrunner is a common species in the desert and brush country of the Southwest, but its full range reaches from California to western Louisiana. Its soft cooing voice hints at its connections to another bird: scientists group roadrunners with the cuckoos. Where to see a roadrunner?... read more »

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Birdsong Therapy

Where some noises — like TV, traffic and random conversations — can make it hard to concentrate, birdsong may make it easier. In Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, the sweet sounds of birdsong carry along the hallways. In an Amsterdam airport, a lounge plays bird sounds to help... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Singing Like a Bird and Feeling Good

Every now and then, don’t you just want to belt it out? Imagine singing like a Black-headed Grosbeak! Or what about a Carolina Wren? Picture warbling like a House Finch. All this just too rambunctious for you? The call of the American Bittern more your style? Or this Yellow-headed Blackbird?... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, sound

Bonaparte's Gull Chorus-line

Small, tern-like Bonaparte's Gulls often form a chorus-line at the water's edge. Side by side, in half an inch of water, they stomp their feet as fast as they can. Under this pummeling, a smorgasbord of shrimp is stirred up for the gulls to harvest. Is this a learned behavior, or were these gulls... read more »

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