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Past Shows

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Bufflehead Return

This month, the Bufflehead returns from the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska to winter in our waters. Its nicknames include little black-and-white duck, bumblebee duck, buffalo-headed duck, butterball, and spirit duck. Buffleheads have elaborate courtship displays that they perform throughout... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Late Fall Sounds to Listen For

By the time November rolls around, the bird songs of summer can seem a distant memory.But there’s always something to listen for. Small birds like chickadees and kinglets, including the Golden-crowned Kinglet pictured here, often mix in flocks while foraging. Geese can be heard overhead in the... read more »

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Chickadee Brains Are Bigger in the Cold

As the colder months arrive, birds that remain in northern climates face the harsh realities of staying warm and finding food. Some birds approach the food problem by storing it in advance — a behavior called caching. Chickadees, nuthatches, jays, and some woodpeckers are known to cache large... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

How Much Do Birds Eat?

There used to be a saying about somebody who doesn’t eat much — “she eats like a bird.” But how much does a bird typically eat? As a rule of thumb, the smaller the bird, the more food it needs relative to its weight. A Cooper’s Hawk, a medium-sized bird, eats around 12% of its weight per day. For... read more »

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Welcoming Back Winter Birds

Although we may think of autumn as the end of the growing season, a sort of winding down in the natural world, for birds it’s as much a season of renewal as the spring. In the colder months, we welcome back our winter birds — juncos, swans, and more — which spent the summer in their breeding... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching

Is It the Same Robin?

Autumn brings robins to feed on tree fruit and berries. Are the robins you see now the same robins that you saw in your garden last summer? Some robins do remain year 'round. Others spend only the winter, having nested farther north. John James Audubon may have been the first to band birds, in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Life Improved for Penguins in Argentina

Professor Dee Boersma, working with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Province of Chubut, has been studying the Magellanic Penguins of Argentina. "In 1983, we realized that oil pollution was really a huge problem for these birds. We were seeing birds coming ashore, covered in oil. We... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Songbirds: The Large and Small of It

The group of birds called “songbirds” — the perching birds — is incredibly broad. Half the world’s 10,000 birds are in the songbird group, and their range of body sizes is mind-boggling. One of the smallest songbirds in North America is the Golden-crowned Kinglet, barely larger than a hummingbird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birding, ornithology

Saw-whet Owls Hoot and Hoot

Northern Saw-whet Owls are common in forests across southern Canada and the northern U.S. In early autumn, many move southward, making a large concentration especially in the region of the Great Lakes. To our ear, the "advertising call" of the male, made mostly in spring and summer, sounds... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Chipping Sparrows

The begging calls of male baby Chipping Sparrows mix into what is known as "subsong," a sort of infant babbling. And, very quickly, subsong begins to change to imitations of adult songs. Next spring, when the young male returns for its first breeding season, it will settle in near an older male.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

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