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Past Shows

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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

Tree Swallows Spend the Winter

Most swallow species that nest in North America eat almost nothing except flying insects. When the bugs die off in the fall, the swallows head south to winter in the tropical zones of Central and South America and the Caribbean. However, Tree Swallows can also eat small fruits. If Tree Swallows... read more »

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Feeding Frenzy

It's late winter at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida. Many birds have finished nesting, and young birds are everywhere. This morning, wind and tide have conspired to strand schools of fish in backwater ditches. And the birds are taking advantage of it. It's a... read more »

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The Owl and the Pussy-cat Went to Sea

During much of his life, Edward Lear, the poet who wrote The Owl and the Pussy-cat, was known for his paintings. Lear’s first major project was a book of paintings of parrots, inspired in part by the friendship and mentoring of John James Audubon. He spent years traveling the globe, painting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, language

Sleeping on the Wing

Some swifts and frigatebirds stay aloft for months. But for a long time, scientists did not know if the birds might be sleeping on the wing. A 2016 study provided answers. Tiny devices attached to the heads of frigatebirds revealed fascinating information: the birds did sleep while aloft, most... read more »

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Hanging-Parrots

There are a dozen species of hanging-parrots — also known as bat parrots — in the tropical forests of southern Asia and Indonesia. Clad in bright greens, blues, and reds, they sleep —and sometimes bathe — upside down. No other birds sleep like this. This bizarre behavior probably protects hanging... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Western Tanagers Are Flashes of Bright Color

Western Tanagers dart from tree to tree, on the lookout for delicious bugs. They’ll find them by scanning the tree bark — or maybe snatching them from mid-air during flight — a tactic called hawking. Come winter, these lovely songbirds head south, where they fit right in with the other brightly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Early Bird

We've all heard that the early bird gets the worm. But research shows that birds dining early and heavily may lower their life expectancy. Socially dominant birds stay lean (and agile at avoiding predators) during the day, and then stoke up later, before a cold night. Subordinate birds have to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

A Brief History of Cars Named for Birds

Birds can be sleek, aerodynamic, and powerful — all in one package. Automakers picked up on this early: a cool bird name will sell cars. So far, more than twenty models of cars have been named for birds — some real, some mythical — and they go way back.Ford Thunderbirds, Buick Skylarks, Plymouth... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, humor

A Bird Walk 65 Million Years Ago

For today’s bird walk, we’re going to need binoculars, sunscreen, hiking boots, annnnnd a time machine. Let’s set our course for the late Cretaceous Era, 65 million years ago. Stay alert! There are dinosaurs all around us, of all sizes — and appetites — including some of the earliest birds, like... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, science

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