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Past Shows

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Northern Spotted Owl II

The plight of the gravely endangered Spotted Owl illustrates the imperiled status of old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest. More than 90% of that forest is gone, a percentage that dwarfs even the worldwide loss of tropical forests and wetlands. Spotted Owls rely on those ancient trees -... read more »


Operation Migration

Unlike many other birds that have an inherent sense of direction and destination, young Whooping Cranes have to learn their migration route from the adults. Enter Operation Migration and ultralight aircraft to lead them on their journey! Fortunately, the young cranes need to be shown the way only... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

How the Turkey Got Its Name

Turkeys were domesticated in Mexico long before Europeans set foot there. After early European explorers colonized Mexico, they took some of the tamed turkeys home with them. But when the bird we today call the "turkey" arrived in England in the 1500s, people got them mixed up with another big... read more »

Topics & Themes:  history

Seabird Crash with Tony Scruton II

Tony Scruton is a sentinel of seabirds; he's on the water at least six times a week, year 'round. He has been closely observing seabirds for more than 30 years. And as he tells it, numbers of murres and scoters - like this White-winged Scoter - have dwindled. There are barely one-tenth of the... read more »

Listeners' Stories: Cardinal and Vireo

BirdNote listener, Betsy MacGregor, talks about finding solace in the company of birds. First a bird of the eastern US, a Northern Cardinal, and then a Hutton's Vireo, a bird of the West. The cardinal creates its pure whistle by producing sound in its left and right bronchial tubes simultaneously... read more »

Topics & Themes:  listener story

Bird Songs Reflect Habitat

The Canyon Wren's eloquent song soothes the soul. Naturalist Ralph Hoffman likened it to "the spray of a waterfall in sunshine." Its close cousin, the Marsh Wren, wound up with a harsh, ratcheting song - about as musical as a tiny machine-gun barrage. Birds' songs mirror their environments. The... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Tracking Burrowing Owls

Helen Trefry, a wildlife biologist in Edmonton, Alberta, wanted to know where the Burrowing Owls in her part of Canada migrated to. How long did it take them to get to their destinations? Where and how did they spend their stopovers? An amateur radio operator from Texas, along with a network of... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Sky Larks in Vancouver

The Sky Lark is a bird whose songful brilliance inspired English poets, and gave its name to the phrase "an exaltation of larks." To glimpse a singing Sky Lark, look high up, where the male flutters and circles perhaps 100 feet off the ground, broadcasting its complex song. Around 1902, Sky Larks... read more »


Birdwatching - Where to Look

How do birdwatchers identify a particular species? Like fishermen who know how to "read the water," it helps to understand habitat. At a wetland full of cattails, for example, you're likely to find a Red-winged Blackbird, because it requires dense marsh vegetation to nest. If you take notes about... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Black Guillemot, Part 2

To feed their young, Black Guillemots search for food at the edge of pack-ice. In 1972, this was a just short trip from Cooper Island. Now it's more than 25 miles. Unable to find sufficient food close by, they're abandoning their chicks in order to save themselves and try again the next year. The... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science