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Shows With Contributions by Ellen Blackstone

Acorn Woodpecker

He doesn't sound exactly like Woody Woodpecker, but the Acorn Woodpecker was probably the model for the cartoon character. The story goes that Walter Lantz and his new bride, Grace, were on their honeymoon in a cabin in California. A racket on their roof drew them outside, where they spotted an... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  Hollywood, humor, vocalization

Pirates and Parrots

Ahoy, Mates! September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day. No doubt the most famous image of a pirate with a parrot is Long John Silver in Treasure Island. During the 1700s, pirates plied the waters of South and Central America, home to many species of parrots, including this Blue and Yellow Macaw.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor

The Crow and the Gull

Crows and gulls are opportunists - grabbing a bite wherever, whenever, however they can. Listener Nick Woodiwiss of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, wrote to BirdNote about a funny scene between an American Crow and a Glaucous-winged Gull on the beach. Can you guess who won?The gull seen here... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, listener story

Clever Nuthatches

Of the four nuthatch species living in the United States, the most common are the Red-breasted Nuthatch, seen left here, and the White-breasted Nuthatch, on the right. The nuthatch's insistent call matches its aggressiveness. As it works its way down a tree trunk, the nuthatch can spot-and eat... read more »

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Keep Your Cats Indoors

When they first leave the nest, young birds are especially vulnerable to cats. For some birds, it takes a few days before they can fly high enough to be out of harm's way. You can help by keeping your cat indoors, especially during the breeding season, March through July. If you hear a bird's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

The Baltimore Oriole

Not all blackbirds are mostly black. This Baltimore Oriole is orange! It’s named after Sir George Calvert, First Lord of Baltimore, whose coat-of-arms carried a gold and black design. In spring and summer, you may see these orioles in the Midwest and eastern US, lighting up the trees where they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, nesting, plumage

Old Abe, War Eagle

Abe Lincoln's Birthday! An infantry regiment from Wisconsin had a Bald Eagle as its mascot during the Civil War. Named "Old Abe", in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, this eagle accompanied Company C in nearly 40 battles. After the Civil War, Old Abe retired to the Wisconsin Capital, appearing... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

The Crane Wife

Throughout history, the Japanese have viewed the crane as a symbol of good fortune. Because cranes mate for life, they also represent fidelity and honor. Visit SavingCranes.org, to learn more about the International Crane Foundation and the fight to save the Japanese Red-crowned Crane. Music in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

Swainson's Birds

William John Swainson, ornithologist, author, illustrator, was born in October 1789. He settled in New Zealand, and it's quite likely that he never saw any of the birds named for him. But because of Swainson's reputation and knowledge about birds, the Swainson's Warbler, Swainson's Thrush, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology

A Murder, a Party, a Stare, or a Siege

Collective nouns are a mixture of poetry, alliteration, and description. Victorians often made up creative names for groups of birds, as a parlor game. Many names bring a vision of the birds instantly to mind.How about this spring of teal? These are Green-winged Teal.So what would a bunch of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language

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