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Past Shows

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Purple Martins Head South to the Amazon

The Purple Martin is the largest swallow that nests in the US and Canada. It’s also one of our most beloved birds, judging by how many people put up nest boxes for them! During fall, Purple Martins from western North America migrate to a distinct wintering area in southeastern Brazil — a travel... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Clean Nestboxes in October

It’s a beautiful moment when your backyard birds — like these Black-capped Chickadees — depart their nestboxes. By October, it’s time for one last duty as nestbox landlord: to clean it out. Cleaning will reduce the incidence of parasites in the box and make it more inviting to next spring’s... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Rufous-collared Sparrow - Tico-Tico

The song Tico-Tico no Fuba, like Carmen Miranda, came to us from Brazil. Believe it or not, the song is about a bird. The Portuguese lyrics tell the story of the tico-tico, a local name for the Rufous-collared Sparrow. Like so many birds, tico-tico was named for its song. In the song, the bird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Birding Trails

Coast to coast and border to border, Birding Trails offer great opportunities to find birds. On a summer trip in New England, along the Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire, you can hear the vividly colored Blackburnian Warbler. Texas birding trails offer birds that can't be found... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Fastest Bird on Two Legs

Imagine an Ostrich, an Emu, a roadrunner, and the world’s fastest man and woman, all lined up for a race. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt holds the men’s record for the 100-meter dash — 28 mph — and Florence Griffith-Joyner ran it just a shade slower. But in this race, Africa’s Ostrich takes gold,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

Celebrating Service on National Public Lands Day

More than one-third of all US lands – as well as near-shore ocean waters – are owned and shared by the American public. Marine protected areas, national and state parks, military installations, national forests, and wildlife refuges are vital habitats for birds like the Northern Hawk Owl pictured... read more »

What in the World Is a Hoopoe?

The soft, modest hoots of the Hoopoe signal a bird so distinctive and fabled that it’s hard to know where to begin this story. Hoopoes are the only existing members of a unique family of birds: Upupidae. They fly on rounded, zebra-striped wings, fluttering unevenly like a giant butterfly. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Great Horned Owl Family VI

Compared to many birds, Great Horned Owls remain with their parents a long time. They hatched in early March, from eggs laid in late January. By April, both parents were hunting through the night to feed their young. But for the last two weeks, the adults have not fed the young. The owlets have... read more »

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Bird in Flight, Strong but Light

The feathers of a bird are, for their weight, among the strongest structures in the world. The bones of this Magnificent Frigatebird weigh less than its feathers! To further reduce weight while maintaining strength, many bird bones are fused. In addition, the pectoral and pelvic girdles and ribs... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight, science

What Kind of Music Is Bird Song?

Composers from Vivaldi to Beethoven have been inspired by birdsong. But how similar is birdsong to the music we create? Two recent studies offer contrasting answers. One analysis used nearly 250 song examples of the Nightingale Wren, pictured here, a tropical bird widely admired for its haunting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, science, vocalization

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