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Past Shows

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American Robin Babies Afoot

After hatching, baby robins spend up to 15 days in the nest. By July, many young American Robins have left the nest, or fledged. But they aren't ready to make it entirely on their own yet, and they follow their parents around, learning to fend for themselves. Outside of the breeding season,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Who Was That Masked Bird?

Football and baseball players sometimes wear eye black to reduce glare from the sun or stadium lights. According to scientists, some birds — including many shrikes, like this Northern Shrike — have evolved a band of black feathers across their eyes that helps in the same way. The black markings... read more »

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Wimbledon Raptors - And Pigeons

Wimbledon is legendary: the verdant green of the courts, the throngs of fans in sun hats, sightings of royalty ... and lots of pigeons. Since the tennis tournament at the All England Club began in 1877, pigeons nested in the stands and generally made a mess of things. Today, though, very few... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

Towhees' Distractive Plumage

Both this Eastern Towhee and the Spotted Towhee of the West sport a black or dark brown hood and back. And when they fly, their tails flash white. When a hawk gives chase, the towhee's flashing tail-feathers draw the predator's attention. Momentarily distracted, the hawk may come up with just a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

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

Birdwatching 104 - A Summary

How do birdwatchers identify one species from another? First, they look carefully at the bird. What's the overall color? Is its bill long or short, thin or stout? What about its markings -- a ring around its eye or stripe on its head? What's your bird doing? Bird behavior can help you sort out... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

A Different Drumming

The drumming of the male Ruffed Grouse is one of the most evocative sounds of the North American forest. Familiar as these accelerating burps are to hunters and hikers, the origin of this bizarre sound was long a mystery. It took the advent of wildlife cinematography to solve the riddle. In the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound

Shorebirds - Masters of Long-Distance Migration

Dr. Dennis Paulson, BirdNote’s chief science advisor, is an expert on shorebirds. He says new technology is revealing fascinating information about migration routes. (For instance, the alpha-alpha flag, unique to this Whimbrel, tells us the bird was banded in Canada.) For many shorebirds,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

National Symbol - Turkey vs. Eagle

As an old tale goes, after the eagle was chosen for national emblem, Benjamin Franklin questioned the choice. In a letter to his daughter regarding a medal created by the Society of the Cincinnati, he wrote wrily: "The Bald Eagle is too lazy to fish for himself; when the Osprey has taken a fish .... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

The Big Thicket - America's Ark

Tucked away in southeast Texas is one of the most remarkable enclaves of nature. Known as The Big Thicket, this region is home to ten different ecosystems, including cypress bayous, arid sandylands, palmetto thickets, pine forests, marshes, and grasslands. The variety of natural landscapes... read more »

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