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Shows With Contributions by Ellen Blackstone

Birding without Sight

It can be difficult to identify a bird by its appearance, and just as challenging to do so by its song. But birding by ear is a great way to get to know birds. A blind birder in Kitsap County, Washington, was puzzled by a haunting bird song. She thought it might be a special song of the American... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear

Sitting in the Catbird Seat

Longtime baseball announcer Red Barber often described a player in a winning situation as "sitting in the catbird seat." So what is "sitting in the catbird seat"? And what is a catbird? The Gray Catbird is a cousin of the mockingbird, and it does sound a little like a cat. During breeding season,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, language, sports

City Peregrines

The Peregrine Falcon is the fastest bird on earth. But its speed couldn't help it avoid the dangers of the pesticide DDT. By the 1970s, the species had declined as much as 80-90% across the US. Since the ban of DDT – and with the help of the Endangered Species Act – well, theyyyy're baaaack! And... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Rita Shultz - Friend to Bluebirds

Rita Shultz, a rural mail carrier outside of Richmond, Virginia, says, "Every person's yard is an important bird area!" When Rita discovered that Eastern Bluebirds were nesting in some of the newspaper delivery boxes on her route – and that many customers were throwing the nests out – she went... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

The Peregrine Falcon Makes a Comeback

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which came out in 1962, linked the pesticide DDT to the decline of many birds, including songbirds. But Peregrine Falcons and other raptors had declined, too. When the birds ingested DDT, it caused their eggshells to thin and break under the weight of the incubating... read more »

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Lame Duck

"Lame duck" is probably a very old term, from before there even was a Congress of the United States. In 1772, an Edinburgh newspaper reported that many people had gone broke in the London stock market (Exchange Alley), and that "Only one lame duck waddled out of the Alley." In 19th century... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, language

50th Anniversary of Silent Spring

September 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. The book awakened the public to the dangers of DDT and other pesticides. But many weren't ready to listen. Her opponents called her "an hysterical woman." Even people who could see the effects of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, history

Christmas Bird Count 2011

In the year 1900, the holiday season was approaching. With that would come the Christmas "Side Count," when, by tradition, you'd go out and shoot as many birds as you could. But a birder named Frank Chapman proposed that people go out and count birds, instead. Today, the Christmas Bird Count is... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  citizen science, science

Tom Pincelli, a.k.a. "Father Bird"

Father Tom Pincelli is a Catholic priest known to many as "Father Bird." He's a birder and conservationist in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Southern Texas. One of his favorite birds is this Green Jay. The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival starts today. Can't make it to Texas? There may be a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  festival, gardening

The Lobstick Family of Whooping Cranes

The celebrities of the Whooping Crane world have to be the Lobstick family, named for the Lobstick marshes where they nest in Canada. The Lobstick male, at 33, is the oldest Whooping Crane in the wild whose age we know for certain. And Tom Stehn of the US Fish and Wildlife Service tells us the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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