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Past Shows

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What Do Desert Birds Drink?

In the desert Southwest, water can be scarce. Yet some birds, like this Black-throated Sparrow, thrive in a scorching landscape. The birds obtain moisture from foods like nectar and fruit, as well as insects and other prey. They tuck into the shade in the heat of the day, so they won’t lose water... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Migration and Fat

If long migratory flights are amazing, what goes on inside a bird’s body during those flights seems absolutely astonishing. To store fat, birds may eat three times as much and forage over many more hours than normal, as they prepare for long-distance travel. Blackpoll Warblers double their weight... read more »

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Crow Parents, Fearless Defenders

Although the American Crow may seem blasé about pillaging another bird's nest, it regards a threat to its own young as a punishable offense. To protect their nest, adult crows dive-bomb people, cats, and other animals, and even other birds (including this kite -- click View Large). Young crows... read more »

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Olive-Sided Flycatcher - Preserving a Unique Voice

These days we're hearing the song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher less often. Clear-cutting and fire suppression in forests, along with acid rain, has reduced its available habitat. Pesticides affect the supply of food. American Bird Conservancy has named it a priority species for conservation.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Thick-billed Euphonia - Deceitful Mimic

Northern Mockingbirds can learn to mimic the sounds of just about any bird. They mimic to show off, not to deceive. But this Thick-billed Euphonia, a tiny songbird in South America, employs what scientists call “deceitful mimicry.” When frightened by a predator near its nest, a Thick-billed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, ornithology

Band-tail, Pigeon of the Woods

Band-tailed Pigeons are found mostly in low-altitude forests. Though about the size of city pigeons, they can be shy and sometimes hard to see. Strictly a bird of the western states, the Band-tailed Pigeon is decreasing in numbers. This is probably because the forests that the pigeons depend on... read more »

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Mysterious Disappearance of Evening Grosbeaks

In 1987, when Project FeederWatch began, Evening Grosbeaks were among the most common birds at birdfeeders during the Northeast winter. Now they're completely absent in many of those same areas. In the West, too, they're showing up in reduced numbers. Why have so many Evening Grosbeaks... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, citizen science

American Golden-Plover Lays Claim to the Tundra

A male American Golden-Plover proclaims its nesting territory with an aerial display known as the "butterfly flight." After flying up 50 feet, the plover switches to slow motion, raising its wings languidly until the wingtips nearly touch over its body, then lowering them gradually until they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

What's Behind Those Lustrous Red Feathers?

Male Northern Cardinals, Scarlet Tanagers, and House Finches all have striking red plumage that’s thought to play a role in attracting mates. Males with the brightest red feathering tend to have the best luck with the females. Scientists think that a male’s redness signals to females that he has... read more »

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White-headed Woodpecker

The White-headed Woodpecker is widely scattered and nowhere common in the Pacific Northwest. Like other woodpeckers, the White-headed Woodpecker digs out juicy insect larvae from the trees by pounding with its sharp bill. But by holding its bill at an angle, the White-headed Woodpecker... read more »

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