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Past Shows

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Flyin' in the Rain

Most birds are mostly waterproof. Their feathers, aided by oil from preen glands, keep them pretty watertight. So why do birds avoid flying during rainstorms? It may have more to do with the air than with the water. Rainstorms tend to occur when atmospheric pressure is low. Air in a low-pressure... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

The Bald Eagle, A National Symbol

Immature Bald Eagles look so different from mature Bald Eagles that John James Audubon thought they were a different species entirely! Sitting about three feet tall, these majestic birds have wingspans of more than six feet. Stretch your arms as far as you can, and imagine a bird whose reach is... read more »

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Swallow-tailed Kite

A bird of prey in the American Southeast takes grace to an utterly new level. It's the Swallow-tailed Kite. A sleek raptor with a deeply forked tail, the Swallow-tailed Kite almost never flaps its wings. The bird makes sudden tight turns, upside-down moves, and quick backward dives, all by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Canada Jays Are Bold Residents of the Mountains

Formerly known as the Gray Jay — and nicknamed the Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack — the mountain-dwelling Canada Jay seems to crash your picnic even faster than hungry ants. The fluffy, long-tailed jay will escape with any edible bits it can get, which it will store for the long mountain winter by... read more »

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The Peacock's Tail: More Than Meets the Eye

When a male Indian Peafowl unfurls its magnificently-colored tail and shakes it, it creates an ultra low frequency sound that we humans can’t hear. But it seems to get the special attention of female birds, called peahens.Today's show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Turkey Vultures and Gas Pipelines

Do vultures detect carrion by sight or by smell? The lightbulb moment came to ornithologist Kenneth Stager when a Union Oil employee told him of vultures congregating at the spots along pipelines where gas leaks were occurring. Why would they do that? Because a key ingredient in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

Brewer's Sparrow, Sageland Singer

One of the most musical and complex bird songs in the US is that of the Brewer's Sparrow. It's a veritable aria, ringing forth from the sagebrush of Eastern Washington's Columbia Basin. Shrub-steppe is disappearing from the interior west as it is cleared for irrigated crops. The quintessential... read more »

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Gannets and Dolphins

Northern Gannets, fish-eating seabirds, dive headfirst into the ocean at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour, pursuing their prey. Sometimes, they get help. Dolphins herd fish into dense, frantic concentrations near the surface, while gannets take advantage and plunge into the shoals from aloft.... read more »

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The Arctic Plain in June

In early June, millions of birds arrive on the Arctic Coastal Plain in Alaska, from all over the world. They're there to attract a mate and raise their young. One shorebird, the Pectoral Sandpiper, has a pectoral sac on its chest. It stands on the ground and inflates this sac, and then takes off... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting

Great Black-backed Gull, North Atlantic Predator

Great Black-backed Gulls have a reputation as serious predators of other birds. During the nesting season, they’ll prey on eggs and nestlings of other seabirds. They’ll also hunt adult seabirds including puffins and grebes, as well as songbirds as big as a grackle. read more »

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