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Past Shows

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How High Birds Fly I

Birds usually fly relatively low. Most of the year, they stay under 500 feet. During migration, though, birds gain altitude, and many species fly at 2,000 to 5,000 feet or higher, using prevailing winds to assist them. A bird may begin migration at about 5,000 feet and slowly climb to 20,000 feet... read more »

Migration: Innate or Learned

Have you ever wondered how some migrating birds return to the same location, year after year? Do they learn from their parents, or do they just know how to migrate? Some birds (like this Bar-tailed Godwit) have an innate homing ability, while others follow their parents. The Bar-tailed Godwit... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

Condor Release - Interview with Eddie Feltes

In late September 2011, three California Condors were released near the Grand Canyon. Eddie Feltes of The Condor Recovery Project says: "We open up the gates from a blind and watch those birds take to the sky." The first few days are the most crucial in the birds' life, because they've never... read more »


Saltmarsh Sparrow - Interview with Russ Greenberg

Imagine a heat wave, and your body covered in down and feathers. How do birds cope? Well, Saltmarsh Sparrows use their bills to shed excess heat. Russ Greenberg, head of the Migratory Bird Center of the Conservation Biology Institute at the Smithsonian, explains that these birds' bills convect... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Extinction and Islands - Interview with George Wallace

Hawaii has more bird species in danger of extinction than anywhere else in the United States. George Wallace of American Bird Conservancy explains that a long period of evolution in isolation gives rise to specialized island species. Birds that nest on the ground don't have any natural resistance... read more »


Living Alone on Earth

September 2007 - The last 40 years have witnessed the dramatic decline of many common American birds, including Boreal Chickadees, like this one. New York Times essayist Verlyn Klinkenborg writes, "...we seem determined to discover whether we can live alone on earth. Harvard biologist, E.O.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  reflection

Cygnus the Swan

The story of Cygnus the Swan constellation, from Greek mythology: Phaeton, unable to control the chariot of the sun, careens wildly though the heavens, scorching the earth. The god Zeus strikes the impetuous charioteer with a bolt of lightning, causing him to fall headlong into the river. His... read more »

Topics & Themes:  myth

Hummingbirds at the Border

Thousands of hummingbirds - including these Ruby-throats - are now in southward migration. Hummingbirds that summer in the western US will arrive in the mountains of southern Arizona. (Ruby-throats take a more easterly route.) Countless hummingbird feeders provide continuous nectar in this... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

Chimney Swift Roost

Scores, perhaps hundreds, of Chimney Swifts whirl in a flock, then form a funnel-shaped cloud above a chimney. Now they begin to descend, first one - and finally hundreds - swirling down into the chimney. Each bird drops inside and catches onto the rough interior, where it will hang until morning... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

Bird-friendly Glass - Interview with Christine Sheppard

Why, when birds have such exceptional vision, do hundreds of millions die every year by slamming into glass windows? Christine Sheppard, who manages the Bird Collisions Campaign for American Bird Conservancy, explains: "Birds don't see glass. ... People don't see glass either, but people... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, science