Shows With Contributions by Todd Peterson

Turkey Vulture soaring with characteristic "V" wings

Turkey Vulture - Sky Sailor

Although some of the Turkey Vulture's habits may evoke our disgust, these remarkable birds also inspire our awe. With wingspans approaching six feet, Turkey Vultures ride currents of air to make their spring and fall journeys, and to cover the miles of their home range in summer. Gliding…
A Superb Fairy Wren perched on a wire fence

Fairy-Wrens Sing Secret Passwords to Unborn Chicks

Superb Fairy-wrens teach their embryonic chicks a secret code. This "incubation call" contains a special note that will later serve as a password. When the chicks have hatched, this password enables the adult birds to identify their babies in the darkness of their domed nest. A species of…
Sharp-tailed Grouse

Sharp-tailed Grouse on a Lek

During spring at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, male Sharp-tailed Grouse - like the one pictured here - perform their elaborate mating dances on a matted patch of ground called a lek. They stomp their feet, extend their wings, and zip around the lek. Then, in an instant…
Pacific Wren singing

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…
Barred Owlet napping on a branch

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…
Cygnus constellation show in illustration from 1825

Cygnus the Swan

The story of Cygnus the Swan constellation, from Greek mythology: Phaeton, unable to control the chariot of the sun, careens wildly though the heavens, scorching the earth. The god Zeus strikes the impetuous charioteer with a bolt of lightning, causing him to fall headlong into the river…
Whooping Crane in closeup view, bright red plumage on top of its head and very long beak

A Fascination with Cranes, With George Archibald

George Archibald has devoted his life to the conservation of cranes, including the Whooping Crane pictured here. His inspiration? At the age of eight, George heard a radio broadcast about Whooping Cranes at school. He says, “. . . it was this drama of a male and female crane who’d flown…
Common Murre swimming

Murres' Swimming Migration - With Bob Boekelheide

When we think of avian migration, we generally think of birds in flight. But Common Murres migrate north by swimming. Some Pacific Coast murres paddle north to the sheltered bays of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to feed on herring and other small fish. During their ocean migration, the adult…
Thousands of Western Sandpipers taking flight

Experience Wildness with Adrian Dorst

In a wild place on the west coast of Vancouver Island, author, photographer, and birdwatcher, Adrian Dorst, tells of a time he witnessed fifty or sixty thousand migrating Western Sandpipers: “It looked like snow – except that the snow was drifting upwards! It was just an amazing sight – so…
A female Wilson's Phalarope foraging in wetlands scene, her brown, grey, and white plumage reflected in the blue water. Her long neck is stretched forward, with a black stripe running up to her eye, while her long black beak leads the way.

Shorebirds in Kansas - Oval Migration Pattern

Almost half of all migratory shorebirds nesting in North America migrate through the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas. Almost all of the continent's Wilson's Phalaropes rest and refuel at the wetlands here. The birds fly a great oval route. In autumn, in the East, they head…