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Past Shows

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What Happens When Birds Get Wet?

Have you ever seen a bird foraging in the rain and wondered why it isn't soaked to the bone? While every bird wears one feather coat, different kinds of feathers – and even different parts of the same feather – can perform various functions. The outermost tips of the main body feathers, called... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage, science

Jynx!

A birder may have a target bird so elusive that the bird becomes a kind of "jinx bird." But there was a real bird by that name! The bird once called the "jynx" is known today as the Eurasian Wryneck. When a wryneck is threatened, it twists its head like a snake and hisses. This behavior led to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, ornithology

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

National Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is birdy at any time of year. But in winter, this mixture of cypress swamp and pineland comes alive with migratory songbirds. On a warm, sunny morning, birds are active all around, from the tops of the tall cypresses to the shrubs along the boardwalk.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Treeswifts: Exquisite Minimalists

The treeswifts of India, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and beyond make their nests out of bits of plants and feathers and hold it all together with some very sticky saliva. A treeswift’s whole nest is but a tiny cup — just large enough to hold a single egg — stuck to a bare upright branch. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Bohemian Waxwings - Exquisite Winter Visitors

It's winter, and apples litter the ground. A few still hang, frozen and thawed again and again. Suddenly a flock of hundreds of birds rises from the ground beneath the trees, swarming in tight formation, wing-tip to wing-tip. Bohemian Waxwings are erratic winter visitors from their nesting... read more »

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Hooded Merganser

Hooded Mergansers, affectionately known as “Hoodies,” nest across most of the northern US and well into Canada. They’re especially prevalent around the Great Lakes, though some winter as far south as Florida. By November, courtship and pair formation is well under way. And by early spring,... read more »

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Kittiwake, Kittiwake

Named for its rhythmic calls, the Black-legged Kittiwake as it is known in North America - it's also known as the Common Kittiwake - is a dapper, oceanic gull. As described by Roger Tory Peterson, the tips of its pale gray wings "are cut straight across, as if they had been dipped in ink." Unlike... read more »

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Ridgway's Rails on San Francisco Bay

Once abundant around San Francisco Bay, the Ridgway’s Rail — formerly known as the California Clapper Rail — is now endangered. In the 19th Century, unregulated hunting plundered the species. In the 20th Century, rampant development reduced salt marsh habitat by 85%. But in the 21st Century, the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Black Kites - Do Birds Start Fires?

In the savanna country of northern Australia, the vegetation is well adapted to the area’s recurrent fires. As flames sweep across the savanna, Black Kites watch for prey like grasshoppers and lizards that flee the fire. But there’s now evidence that Black Kites may actually create fires by... read more »

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Comparing Chickadee Calls

In the Pacific Northwest, you might see both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees at your birdfeeder. The Chestnut-back (seen here) sounds different from the Black-capped Chickadee. The call of the Black-capped follows the familiar “Chick-a-dee, dee, dee” pattern. But the call of the... read more »

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