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Past Shows

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Brown Kiwi

Kiwis are so unlike other birds that they've been called "honorary mammals." Kiwis cannot fly, having evolved in New Zealand's island environment without mammalian predators. The only bird to have nostrils at the end of its beak, the kiwi snuffles and snorts as it probes the forest floor for... read more »

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Kinglets in Winter

The Golden-crowned Kinglet weighs six grams, the weight of two pennies, yet it survives under conditions that would make a grizzly bear shiver. Wintering as far north as Alaska and Nova Scotia, with short days, intense cold, and heavy snow, how can kinglets possibly stay alive? Good insulation... read more »

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Jay's Whisper Song

It's hard to imagine that the boisterous Steller's Jay could possibly have a softer aspect to its blustery behavior. But it does. It's called the "whisper song." Male jays use this whisper song during courtship, and it also emanates from solitary birds for no apparent reason. Quietly, the bird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Saving Shearwaters on Diamond Head

On Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii, on a vacant lot in the middle of an exclusive neighborhood, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters are nesting. The nesting success of shearwaters - including the Newell's Shearwaters seen here - has been greatly reduced on all of the main Hawaiian Islands. But Carolyn... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Song of the Dipper

The American Dipper makes its living in the boulder-strewn rapids of mountain streams. The dipper starts to belt out its sprightly song while icicles still hang thickly from frozen waterfalls. John Muir wrote of this bird: "His music is that of the streams refined and spiritualized. The deep... read more »

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A Bird of Two Colors

Related to shearwaters and petrels, the Northern Fulmar will eat just about anything it finds on the surface of the ocean, from fish and squids to dead whales. Fulmars are polymorphic, that is to say they come in more than one color. This difference is independent of sex and age. The reason for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

John Burroughs II

John Burroughs, one of the masters of American nature writing, wrote "The birds do indeed begin with the day. The farmer who is in the field at work while he can yet see stars catches their first matin hymns. In the longest June days the robin strikes up about half past three o'clock..."... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Song of the Kauai O'o

The sweet, bell-like tones of the Kauai O'o were heard for the last time nearly 20 years ago. The native birds of the Hawaiian Islands, like birds of many island groups, have been hard hit by changes wrought by humans. At least 90% of the bird species driven to extinction in recorded history have... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording, sound, vocalization

Birds Carry Plants to Hawaii

Three-quarters of Hawaii's native flowering plants probably come from seeds that hitched rides with birds. The bird-borne seeds that sprouted in Hawaii evolved into more than a thousand new species. The most likely seed-carriers were undoubtedly strong fliers, such as plovers or tropicbirds -... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

How the Steller's Jay Got Its Crest

The Makahs tell a story about how the bird we know as the Steller's Jay - the bird the Makahs call Kwish-kwishee - got its crest. The mink, Kwahtie, tried to shoot his mother, the jay, with an arrow but missed. Her crest is ruffled to this day. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

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