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Shows With Contributions by Ellen Blackstone

Walking on Eggshells

Walking on eggshells usually means dealing with something delicate, fragile. But eggs are far from fragile. An egg has to be strong enough to withstand the weight of an adult bird during incubation. But the tiny, weak baby bird within has to be able to peck its way out. Is it true that if you... read more »

Topics & Themes:  language

The Nightingale

From Hans Christian Andersen... Long ago, in an emperor's garden, lived a Nightingale. The emperor ordered the bird to be brought to him, and she was locked in a golden cage. When the emperor received a mechanical Nightingale, the real Nightingale was banished. Years later, the emperor lay dying.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  myth

Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 16-19, 2018, is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Birdwatchers across the country count birds and then report the numbers on-line. Although it may seem that crows are everywhere, the Northern Cardinal is reported on the most lists nearly... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, citizen science, science

Jacana - Lily-trotter

The strange wading birds known as jacanas are nick-named "lily-trotters" for their ability to walk on lilypads. In Jamaica, they're known as "Jesus birds," because they appear to be walking on water — a feat made possible by their long toes. But that's not all that's cool about jacanas.... read more »


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

Northern Saw-whet - The Christmas Tree Owl

Christmas tree plantations may not be the best habitat for wild birds, but they do hold an attraction - for Northern Saw-Whet Owls. These miniature owls seem to feel at home in the small evergreens. And when the birds are spotted, they're most likely to remain motionless rather than fly away. So... read more »


Crows and Chips

Crows didn't get where they are today by being shy or slow. They take advantage of whatever food they find, where and when they find it. Listener Jerry Campbell told his story of one crow making off with three chips. Catch a video of another clever crow in Japan.Sign up for the BirdNote podcast,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  humor, listener story

The Crows' Night Roost

Have you noticed groups of crows flying overhead in the late afternoon, wheeling and diving? These are American Crows with a purpose. They're headed to their night roost, a giant slumber party. Up to 40,000 crows in one space is not uncommon for a winter-time roost. Gathering at dusk, crows land... read more »


The Moon of Falling Leaves

The Cree called the full moon in October "The Moon of Falling Leaves." It's almost time to stow the tools and put the garden to bed for the winter. When the trees lose their leaves, you can see the nests of summer. It's a good time to prune trees, because you won't disturb nesting birds. If you... read more »

Topics & Themes:  gardening, nesting

Birds in Summer - The Heat of the Day

Just a few weeks past the solstice, and the real heat of summer is yet to come. Some shorebirds are already on their way south, but most songbirds will be here for a while longer. What's the best time of day to look for them? Many birds are most active in the early morning, taking advantage of... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching