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Past Shows

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Sparrows Kick, Robins Pick

If you watch backyard birds, you will likely see some characteristic behaviors. One example is "foraging" styles — the behaviors that a bird uses to find food. Some birds, such as sparrows, are famous for their "double-scratch" behavior. The bird jumps forward and back, quite quickly...twice. In... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology

Why Do Owls Bob Their Heads?

If you were to stand face to face with an owl, it would eventually move its head, bobbing rhythmically from side to side, then forward, then back. Or almost completely upside down. This head-bobbing action helps make up for an anatomical limitation: an owl’s eyes are fixed in position — they can... read more »


Winter Brings Falcons

A Merlin — like this one — hunts boldly from a high perch. A Peregrine Falcon dives on a hapless pigeon, with an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour. The Gyrfalcon can fly down even the fastest waterfowl in a direct sprint. A Prairie Falcon blends in with its background. And the smallest... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

61 Tons of Robins!

In winter, flocks of American Robins spend the night together. Typically, a few dozen to a few hundred birds roost communally in trees or an old barn, or under a bridge. But larger robin roosts can number in the thousands, or even tens of thousands! In 2007, observers near St. Petersburg, Florida... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, migration, science

Why Do Chickadees Come and Go?

A chickadee comes in to the feeder, quickly grabs a seed, and flies away. It may return immediately, but it's more likely to wait its turn. When a whole flock of chickadees moves into the yard, it looks as if they form a living conveyer belt. One chickadee after another flies to the feeder and... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, science

A New Year Dawns

Listen to the earth awaken, as dawn circles the globe. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton recorded these sounds around the globe. He's with SoundTracker. read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Bird of the Year, From Lyanda Haupt

Many birders play a New Year's game called "Bird of the Year." The first bird you see on January 1st becomes your theme bird for that year—one to bless your perspective, your imagination, your spirit. Author Lyanda Haupt was at first disappointed with her "bird of the year," a European Starling.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, reflection

Hummingbirds - To Feed or Not to Feed?

Have you wondered about the right time to remove your hummingbird feeders during fall? Consider leaving your feeders hanging for a week or two after you’ve seen the last hummingbird of the season, just in case a late migrant stops by to fatten up. However, Anna’s Hummingbirds – like the one... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, migration

Strange Twins - Purple and Rock Sandpipers

On the north Atlantic coast, a slate-gray sandpiper picks among the barnacles and mussels that encrust a jetty’s massive boulders. At the same moment, a parallel scene unfolds on the north Pacific Coast. A slate-colored sandpiper emerges from the salt spray to forage over a windswept jetty. These... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology

Downy Woodpeckers

Coast to coast, border to border, forest to feeder, the Downy Woodpecker goes about its business in 49 states. The smallest woodpecker in the United States, it turns up everywhere there are a few trees, except in the dry deserts of the Southwest and in Hawaii.Sign up for weekly preview email and... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology