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Past Shows

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Cetti's Warbler

It took centuries to match the Cetti’s Warbler, a secretive singer, to its disembodied song. In 1819 Italian naturalist Alberto della Marmora was walking along the River Var, in France, when he heard a song he thought he recognized. One well-aimed shotgun blast later, and he knew for sure. He... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

Birdsong Wanes with the Season

By this time in September, most migratory birds have departed. Many resident birds remain, but their voices are now quiet. During fall and winter, birds don't need to sing to establish a breeding territory or attract a mate. Many songbirds lose the ability to sing. The part of the brain used for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

Eclectic Plumages of Eclectus Parrots

Eclectus Parrots are big, loud, colorful parrots native to the lowland rainforests of New Guinea and northern Australia. The female (seen right) and the male are so different, they were once thought to be two separate species. Such a dramatic sexual contrast in plumage is rare in parrots. It... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

The Cuban Tody

The Cuban Tody is almost indescribably cute! It’s a "must-see" bird for anyone heading for the West Indies. In woodlands throughout the island of Cuba, todies are terrific foragers. In fact, their Puerto Rican cousins have been known to catch up to one or two insects a minute — hunting from dawn... read more »

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Canyon Spectacle - Swakane Canyon

Canyons, whether large or small, can host a spectacular variety of birds! Consider Swakane Canyon, in central Washington State. It cuts west from the Columbia River into the Entiat Mountains for nine miles, while gaining nearly 3,000 feet. Steep slopes wall in the canyon floor, several hundred... read more »

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Ospreys Head South

Ospreys may log more than 160,000 air miles over a lifetime. One female Osprey in Massachusetts, which researchers tagged in 2008 and named Penelope, headed south in early September, later reaching the Bahamas. After pausing in the Dominican Republic, she traveled to the Island of Birds, off... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

House Sparrows Can Open Doors

House Sparrows are ingenious birds that have learned a highly specialized skill: how to open automatic doors. House Sparrows have been seen activating electric-eye sensors to fly into restaurants, supermarkets, and home supply stores.What will they be up to next? read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

Bee Hummingbird

The Bee Hummingbird, found only in Cuba, is the smallest bird in the world. An absolute miniature, even among hummingbirds, it measures only two and a quarter inches long. Often mistaken for bees, they weigh less than a dime. The female builds a nest barely an inch across, and lays eggs about the... read more »

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Common Merganser

The Common Merganser is one of our biggest ducks, about the size of some loons. Although it’s not closely related to loons, it has evolved a similar overall structure and predatory behavior. But a merganser has a unique feature: tooth-like serrations along the edge of the bill that help the bird... read more »

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There's More Than One Way to Climb a Tree

No bird is better adapted for climbing up a tree trunk than a woodpecker. The foot of this Pileated Woodpecker is ideal for clinging, and its relatively short legs allow it to anchor itself securely. When traveling upward, the woodpecker’s a master. But hitching down? Not so much — usually they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

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