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Past Shows

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Adaptations for Flight

Birds evolved not only wings, but many other adaptations that make it possible to fly. Feathers provide insulation, waterproofing, and a lightweight means to become airborne. Birds have honeycombed or hollow bones, reducing body weight. And instead of weighty jawbones and teeth, birds evolved a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Birdhouses in Turkey

It’s easy to imagine that putting up a birdhouse or nestbox is a relatively recent practice. But in Turkey, it has a long history. Since at least the 13th century and continuing through the period of Ottoman rule, birdhouses were placed on all sorts of structures: mosques (like this one – the... read more »

Sparrows Sing in Arizona Monsoon

Midday temperatures in southeast Arizona soar above 100 degrees during the month of July. But relief is coming. A summer monsoon refreshes the Sonoran Desert like a second spring. Grass grows lush, wildflowers spring forth, and birds sing. Cassin’s Sparrows sing their plaintive phrases almost... read more »

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The Cold Lake Amphitheater

A great place to listen to insects - and birds - is a remote mountain lake in the spring. Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist, recorded the sounds of this lake in Washington’s Methow Valley. The air is so clear of noise you’ll actually be able to hear the tiny splashes of lake trout gobbling up... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording

Crested Auklets Entice Their Mates with Scent

Crested Auklets are small seabirds that nest on remote cliffs in the Northern Pacific and the Bering Sea. But it’s their smell that really sets these birds apart. They smell like tangerines! Experiments show that females go for males that emit the strongest scents.This episode brought to us by... read more »

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Killdeer, Master of Distraction

Since Killdeer don’t always pick the safest places to lay their eggs, they’ve developed a clever way to protect their young. They use the art of distraction. When it spots a predator close by, the Kildeer parent will pretend it has a broken wing - calling loudly and limping along as it stretches... read more »

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Sound Escapes - Turning a Mountain Lake into a Microphone

If you’re at a cold mountain lake at just the right time and the air above it is warmer, then you might hear something magical. Because sound travels faster through warm layers than through cold ones, the lake can turn into a giant funnelling microphone. Hear it for yourself at BirdNote.org... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording

House Sparrows' Dance

In 1559, Duke August of Saxony ordered that the House Sparrows of Dresden be excommunicated. The birds were slipping into Holy Cross Church, where they interrupted the sermon with exuberant chirping and “endless unchaste behavior” before the altar. Now their manic chirping and courtship displays... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, history

Fairy-Wrens Sing Secret Passwords to Unborn Chicks

Superb Fairy-wrens teach their embryonic chicks a secret code. This "incubation call" contains a special note that will later serve as a password. When the chicks have hatched, this password enables the adult birds to identify their babies in the darkness of their domed nest. A species of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science, sound

Burrowing Owls: Howdy Birds

A Burrowing Owl is about as big as a can of beans on stilts. Between the long legs, bright yellow eyes, and signature bobbing salute, these little birds are comical members of the western ecosystem. Cowboys riding Western rangelands have a nickname for these little owls. They call them “howdy... read more »

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