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Shows With Contributions by Frances Wood

Why Birds' Feet Don't Freeze

Have you ever watched ducks walking around in freezing temperatures and wondered why their feet don't freeze? And how do birds, including this Northern Flicker, sit on metal perches with no problem? Birds' feet have a miraculous adaptation that keeps them from freezing. Rete mirabile — Latin for ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology, science

Why the Crow Is Black

Out of the 810 species of North American birds, the only completely black birds are the crow and the raven. Here's a story that explains why the crow is black, according to Native American tradition. When Crow came into the world, he wore all the colors of the rainbow, but the other animals and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

Old and New Memories of Black-capped Chickadees

Fernando Nottebohm of Rockefeller University studies the growth of neurons in the brains of birds. He’s an expert in the remarkable ability of Black-capped Chickadees to recall the locations of hundreds of stored seeds. Dr. Nottebohm suggests that as demand for memory space peaks, chickadees... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Feisty Cardinal

You may not have seen a Northern Cardinal in the wild, but you've probably seen one on holiday cards or the cover of a bird book. During spring breeding season, biologist Eric Lind and his team capture and band birds at Constitution Marsh on the east side of the Hudson River. For eight years in a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Canada Geese - Migratory or Not

It's the time of year that geese migrate south for the winter. Isn't it? So why are there so many geese still hanging around, setting up housekeeping on our parks and golf courses? Did they decide to forgo the long trip north? In the early 1900s, a subspecies of non-migratory geese were imported... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Swallows and Mud - A Myth?

The swallows that make mud nests in spring and catch flying insects all summer are now far south in Mexico, and Central and South America. It's only as recently as the end of the nineteenth century that ornithologists agreed that swallows, including this Cliff Swallow, migrate. Many formerly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, myth

Is It the Same Robin?

Autumn brings robins to feed on tree fruit and berries. Are the robins you see now the same robins that you saw in your garden last summer? Some robins do remain year 'round. Others spend only the winter, having nested farther north. John James Audubon may have been the first to band birds, in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, nesting

Autumnal Equinox

Today marks the mid-point between June's longest day and December's shortest day. We may hardly notice, but ancient cultures closely watched the changes in the sun's daily patterns. One legend from the Andes of South America held that only the giant Andean Condor (like the one pictured here),... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Whip-poor-will

In September, 1851, Henry David Thoreau wrote: "The Whip-poor-wills now begin to sing in earnest about half an hour before sunrise, as if making haste to improve the short time that is left them. As far as my observation goes, they sing for several hours in the early part of the night . . . then... read more »

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Male Mallards Disappear

By late summer, the male Mallard’s need for fancy feathers to attract the females has passed. These birds have molted, and their bright feathers are replaced with mottled brown ones. Subdued colors help camouflage the male ducks, protecting them from predators. Come fall, the male Mallards will... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

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