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Shows With Contributions by Ellen Blackstone

Julenek - Birds at Christmas

Birds are an important part of Christmas in Norway. On Christmas Eve, sheaves of wheat or oats are tied to a post or hung on the door, to feed the birds on Christmas morning. This bundle of grain, the julenek, has become a symbol of Christmas in Norway, and a julenek hangs on nearly every door,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding

The Lowly Starling

Much maligned as a pest and cursed by many as an "invasive species," the European Starling has had many fans, too. Eugene Schieffelin introduced about 50 pairs into the United States in the 1890s. And Rachel Carson noted that the starling carries "more than 100 loads of destructive insects per... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, vocalization

Mistaken Identity

This Band-tailed Pigeon may sound like an owl, but it's a case of mistaken identity. The song of the American Robin could be confused with that of the Black-headed Grosbeak. And then, there's the Black-capped Chickadee. At certain times of year, the male sings "Fee-bee, fee-bee," even though it's... read more »

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Stand-still Birding

While full-speed-ahead birding can mean spotting a large number of species, there's quiet joy in stand-still birding. Pick a place-forest, field, or marsh. Find a seat that's dry, and hold your binoculars to your eyes. Be still and blend in. After perhaps twenty minutes, birds accept you as part... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Watching Birds' Behavior

To distinguish one bird from a similar one, watch how the bird moves. Does it flick its wings? Bob up and down? Flip its tail? The White-breasted Nuthatch (right) works its way down the trunk of a tree, while the Brown Creeper works its way up. A field guide usually mentions these behaviors, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

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 »

RELATED
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 »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  myth

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 »

RELATED
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 »

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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 »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, listener story

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