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Shows With Contributions by Frances Wood

Regal Great Blue Heron

Tall and prehistoric-looking, the Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. Great Blue Herons are often seen flying high overhead with slow wing-beats. When foraging, they stand silently along riverbanks, on lake shores, or in wet meadows. Quickly then, they stab at their prey.... read more »

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Storks and Babies

Storks and babies have been linked together for centuries. But how did that old legend get started? Researchers suggest that the legend goes back to pagan times, when civilizations were keen to have high birthrates. The myth of storks and babies was forged by the birds' return in spring, when... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, human interaction

Why Birds Stand on One Leg

Birds' legs have an adaptation called "rete mirabile" that minimizes heat loss. The arteries that transport warm blood into the legs lie in contact with the veins that return colder blood to the bird's heart. The arteries warm the veins. Because the veins also cool the arteries, the bird’s feet... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

The Wild Turkey - One Well-Traveled Bird

It’s likely that the Mayans of southern Mexico were the first to domesticate turkeys. Early Spanish explorers in the Americas took these domestic birds back with them to Europe, and then early European colonists migrating to America’s Atlantic seaboard brought domestic turkeys back along with... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Return of the Snowbird

You may see Dark-eyed Juncos in the summer, but come fall, many more — those that have been nesting in the mountains or farther north — arrive to spend the winter. These juncos often visit birdfeeders for winter feasting. Dark-eyed Juncos forage on the ground. The flash of white tail-feathers... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Butcherbird

The Northern Shrike breeds in the tundra and taiga of the north, but migrates south into the lower 48 for the winter. It has a pleasing and rhythmical song, which it sings even in winter. But its song belies a rather bloodthirsty feeding habit. The shrike impales its prey on sharp thorns or... read more »

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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

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

Ducks - Diving and Dabbling

Autumn brings many species of wintering ducks and seabirds to our waters. Watch carefully. Some dabble along the surface, feeding along shallow edges of lakes and estuaries. Others dive under the water, using their feet and occasionally their wings for propulsion. The male "dabblers" are often... read more »

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Green Heron

The Green Heron forages on the banks of small bodies of fresh water. Relying on its plumage for camouflage, it perches motionless — body horizontal and stretched forward — waiting for small fish to come close. This heron may use "bait" while hunting for fish. It drops a feather, a live insect, or... read more »

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