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Past Shows

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Why a Gorget Glitters

A hummingbird's brilliant throat feathers are called a "gorget," a term applied in past centuries to the metallic swatch protecting the throat of a knight-in-armor. Light waves reflect and refract off the throat feathers, creating color in the manner of sun glinting off a film of oil on water.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Eagles Rebuild

Bald Eagles build large stick nests in tall trees. These nests endure rough treatment. Rambunctious chicks pull sticks out and flap madly, holding on with their feet, before they fledge. Wind buffets the nest year round. But eagles reuse their nests year after year. Adult eagles break off dead... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Australia's Rainforest Birds

The rainforests of Eastern and Northeastern Australia harbor many species of birds found almost nowhere else. This Eastern Whipbird — which is more often heard than seen — hangs out in the dense understory. Easier to lay eyes on is the large, pigeon-like Wompoo Fruit-Dove. Feathered in a stunning... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Secretive Varied Thrush

Except in winter, when it gathers in loose flocks to move to lower elevations, this shy bird prefers solitude. The intricate pattern of color on its wings resembles dappled sunlight on the forest floor. Naturalist Louis Agassiz Fuertes called the song of the Varied Thrush, "... as perfectly the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, species account

King Penguins - World's Largest Kazoo Band

While it’s still winter in many parts of North America, it’s summer in Antarctica. And the King Penguins are singing! Some form breeding colonies that number in the tens of thousands. When many pairs of these colorful birds tip their heads back and sing, it sounds like the world’s largest kazoo... read more »

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Drumming with Woodpeckers

Like a jazz player beating out a drum roll, a woodpecker uses its bill to rap out a brisk series of notes. Early spring resounds with the percussive hammering of woodpeckers. Their rhythmic drumming says to other woodpeckers, "This is my territory!" We also hear them knocking on wood when they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

Sanderlings

Here and there along winter shorelines, little flocks of pale, silvery shorebirds probe at the water's edge, keeping pace with each wave's ebb and flow. These are Sanderlings, small sandpipers that stay through the winter. Rachel Carson, in Under the Sea Wind, described Sanderlings as running ... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  migration

Cranes' Voices Across the Globe

There are fifteen species of cranes across the globe, found everywhere but Antarctica and South America. During the winter, cranes forage and rest together by the thousands. Listen in to the voices of cranes from all over the world. Nothing evokes the spirit of the wild like the voices of these... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  vocalization

February Summer in Argentina

In February, winter still holds sway over much of North America. But in Argentina, it’s summer, and birds are in full voice. Argentina’s national bird, the Rufous Hornero, belts out a rapid trill while the Rufous-bellied Thrush sings its lovely song. In the tropical forests of northeastern... read more »

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Birds in Music

We have many examples of music inspired by birdsong, but there are also composers who have used actual bird sounds in their works, including Ottorino Respighi in his 1923 work, The Pines of Rome. When Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara composed "Cantus Arcticus" (also known as "Concerto for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

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