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Past Shows

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The Secret Stash of Eggshells

Developing eggshells requires a key ingredient — calcium — in larger quantities than the female typically has in her bloodstream. Just how different bird species supply or store calcium for egg-laying isn’t fully known. While some species seek out extra calcium from their... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Paul Bannick Photographs the Great Gray Owl

A few years ago, Paul Bannick went to photograph the Great Gray Owl irruption in Northern Minnesota. He writes: "I went out one morning before the sun had risen and found one owl that was in a particularly photogenic place. I watched that owl." Paul learned what the bird's habits were, and that... read more »

Topics & Themes:  photography

The Flicker's White Rump

When a Northern Flicker takes flight, a bold patch of white feathers flashes on its rump, in contrast to its brown body. This white rump likely evolved as an anti-predator adaptation. A hawk flying in pursuit of a flicker may focus on the white spot rather than the darker image of the whole bird.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  plumage

Nictitating Membranes - Nature's Goggles

For most birds, keen eyesight is critical for survival. But many birds lead lives that can be very hard on the eyes — like flying at breakneck speed, racing for cover into a dense thicket, or diving under water to capture prey. Imagine how the chips fly as this Pileated Woodpecker chisels a... read more »



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 »

Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Bohemian Waxwings Wander South

In winter, when snow blankets the northern states, nearly all of the songbirds that graced the days of summer are gone. But there’s one special winter visitor that fills the absence: the Bohemian Waxwing. In autumn, waxwings wander south from the boreal forest into the northern states and along... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

Yellow-rumped Warbler - The Winter Warbler

By winter, most warblers have migrated south. But the Yellow-rumped Warbler, which birders affectionately call “butterbutt” is a lesson in adaptation, notes Bryan Pfeiffer, a writer, naturalist, and educator who lives in Vermont. “In winter, when most of their kin are enjoying insects in the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, ornithology

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 »

Topics & Themes:  plumage, science

John Burroughs

John Burroughs was probably the most popular nature writer of the late 19th Century. Many consider Burroughs the founder of the modern nature essay. Yet Burroughs wrote not about nature on a grand scale, but about glimpses of nature close to home. He preferred to walk his own backyard woods - on... read more »

Topics & Themes:  history, reflection

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 »