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Past Shows

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Here Come the Barred Owls

The emphatic hoots of a pair of Barred Owls resonate in the still of a winter's night. Like many owls, Barred Owls initiate their vocal courtship in winter. A fairly large owl - a perching bird is 21 inches tall - Barred Owls are also among the most vocal. More than a dozen Barred Owl calls range... read more »

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Common Poorwills Can "Hibernate"

Common Poorwills don’t sing much when the mercury drops. But they can do something else that is remarkable. As the winter cold deepens, these petite members of the nightjar family can enter a hibernation-like state — and stay like that for hours — or even weeks! Scientists call it torpor. It... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Yellow-rumped Warbler - The Winter Warbler

By winter, most warblers have migrated south. But the Yellow-rumped Warbler, which birders affectionately call “butterbutt” is a lesson in adaptation, notes Bryan Pfeiffer, a writer, naturalist, and educator who lives in Vermont. “In winter, when most of their kin are enjoying insects in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, ornithology

American Redstart - The Tale Is in the Tail

Who knew that this American Redstart’s feathers could reveal so much information about its life? For example, the more intense the color of a male American Redstart’s feathers, the better his chances of holding a good winter territory, which means access to good nutrition. Being well fed and in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, ecology, migration, plumage

Of Grouse and Gizzards

During winter, the Greater Sage-Grouse is wholly reliant on its namesake species — sagebrush — for both shelter and for food. Scientists call this bird "sagebrush obligate," meaning it needs this plant to survive. In the spring, its diet shifts to insects and plants, as it gets ready for the most... read more »

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Why Do Chickadees Come and Go?

A chickadee comes in to the feeder, quickly grabs a seed, and flies away. It may return immediately, but it's more likely to wait its turn. When a whole flock of chickadees moves into the yard, it looks as if they form a living conveyer belt. One chickadee after another flies to the feeder and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, science

Rhinoceros Hornbill

Rhinoceros Hornbills are among the largest of the world’s 54 species of hornbills, which are spread across Africa and India to Asia and New Guinea. Some hornbills eat mostly fruit. Others are carnivorous, snapping up lizards, small mammals, and birds. Most live in mature, tropical forests, but... read more »

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How Evolution Reshaped the Woodcock

Evolution works with what's at hand. So if you start with a normal bird skull – bill pointing forward, eyes oriented front or sideways, ears behind eyes – and introduce the challenge of seeing behind your head while your bill is pushed deeply into the soil, what do you get? The American Woodcock!... read more »

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A Crossbill's Beak Does the Job

A close look at this Red Crossbill reveals a curious adaptation. The long tips of the upper and lower bill don't meet, but instead cross over each other. The bills of young birds are not crossed at hatching, but cross as they grow. The Red Crossbill bites between the scales of a cone and pries... read more »

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Costa Rica Winter Sunrise

On a winter morning in Costa Rica, a colorful choir welcomes the day. A pair of Bay Wrens sings a brisk duet just before sunrise. Perched in the upper canopy of the tropical lowland forest, a group of Keel-billed Toucans calls out. In a nearby tree, Purple-throated Fruitcrows (like this one) add... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

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