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Shows With Contributions by Todd Peterson

Homing Pigeons

Pigeon fanciers from around the world race specially bred homing pigeons over distances up to 600 miles. These stalwart and intelligent birds course the skies at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour. In 2005, a homing pigeon flying home to a loft in Norfolk, Virginia earned the record for that... read more »

Topics & Themes:  history

Riding with Red-tails

Traveling home after a flight into Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, you might share a ride on the shuttle with a Red-tailed Hawk! To protect passengers, planes, and birds, airport biologists Steve Osmek and Bud Anderson capture raptors for relocation away from the airport. Then, as a public service,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

More Information than from 100 Years of Bird Banding

Geolocators are revolutionizing our ability to track migrating birds. When mounted on the backs of birds like this Common Swift, these tiny technological backpacks reveal fascinating information. For example, when researchers in Europe used geolocators to study Common Swifts, they discovered a... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Hunters' Names for Ducks

Hunters have nicknames for waterfowl that capture the distinctive sound and sight of these birds, such as "Spoonbill" for this Northern Shoveler. And why is the Northern Pintail called a "Sprig"? WNPR listener David, in Belchertown, MA, tells us that the answer can be found in Gurdon Trumbull's... read more »

Topics & Themes:  language

Restoring Bird Colonies with Social Attraction

What does relocating Caspian Terns from an island in the Columbia River have to do with luring Short-tailed Albatrosses away from an active volcano in Japan? They both use methods of social attraction pioneered by Dr. Stephen Kress. Social attraction utilizes visual cues such as decoys and audio... read more »


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 »

Topics & Themes:  science

What the Pacific Wren Hears

What does the Pacific Wren hear in a song? It's a long story. What we hear as a blur of sound, the bird hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a movie as a series of still pictures. That birds can hear the fine structure of song so acutely allows them to convey... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Some of My Best Friends Are Salt Marshes

Riding the train west to New Haven or New York, you pass salt marshes with old and evocative names like The Saw Pit, Great Harbor, and Old Quarry. Watch for marsh birds — yellowlegs, sandpipers, Snowy Egrets. In the fall, you may find Northern Pintails, teal, and Black Ducks, like this one. We... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Barred Owlets Nap

Keeping its talons tightly gripped on a branch, a Barred Owlet will sometimes lie down on its stomach, turn its head to the side, and fall asleep. A young owl doesn't fall out of the tree while it snoozes, because its back toe, the hallux, holds onto the branch. The hallux will not open or let go... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Love and Risk Are Inseparable, With Gordon Hempton

Gordon Hempton, the Sound Tracker, believes there are lessons we can learn from listening to birds. When Gordon was traveling in the Australian Outback, he heard a Rufous Whistler — like the one pictured here — singing his heart out. Gordon notes the delicate nature of the male's work: “When the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  recording, sound