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Shows With Contributions by Bob Sundstrom

Make Your Cloud-watching More Like Bird-watching

When we watch birds in flight, they’re often seen against a backdrop of clouds. Clouds have many different types and are listed in the International Cloud Atlas. The asperitas cloud was first described by citizen-scientists and has now been incorporated into the official atlas. read more »


Vernal Equinox - West

Ahhh, the first day of spring . . . at last! And the birds know somethin' is up. Both science and folklore tie Spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long cold winter. Here's a Virginia Rail, usually unseen but hardly unheard, ringing in the new season. Spring has sprung.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

The Mockingbird - A Virtuoso of Variety

This aptly named Northern Mockingbird might imitate, in succession, birds as different as a bobwhite quail, a chat, a sandpiper — even a cardinal — then cap it off with the meow of a cat and a few phrases of car alarm. In spring, a male mockingbird sings all day, with hundreds of variations ... read more »

Topics & Themes:  sound, species account, vocalization

Amazing Pied-billed Grebe

The small, nondescript Pied-billed Grebe has an astonishing talent. The grebe is the master of its own buoyancy. It can squeeze out both the air trapped in its feathers and in its internal air-sacs and sink effortlessly. Learn more about the amazing, sinking Pied-billed Grebe at Cornell's... read more »

Topics & Themes:  Hollywood

The Great Horned Owl Nest

When Great Horned Owl eggs hatch, the downy owlets are the size of newborn chickens. Their mother broods them day and night. A few weeks later, the owlets can be left alone while both adults resume hunting at twilight. Great Horned Owl young remain in the nest for about six weeks, then climb out... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Why Birds Sing

Why do birds sing? Ornithologists have learned that the longer hours of light that come with spring trigger the release of hormones in birds. These hormones prompt the enlargement of the birds' gonads which, in turn, stimulate male birds to sing. Male birds - like this Black-headed Grosbeak - can... read more »

Topics & Themes:  breeding display, nesting, vocalization

Snatching Berries on the Wing

When American Robins gather to pluck berries, you can expect to see a lot of fluttering. The robins are heavy, making it a lot harder to perch and creep along a thin stem. And they have long, strong legs because they spend so much time walking and hopping on the ground in search of food. An easy... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons

In higher animals, the brain is like a BMW — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted in a... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

An Avian Big Bang

Many scientists believe that the demise of the dinosaurs began when an asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago. Some dinosaurs survived, and among them were the early ancestors of birds. Recently an international research team sequenced the genomes of 45 birds of diverse lineages. The... read more »

Beauty and Secrecy: The Montezuma Quail

The Montezuma Quail is a tiny bird of Mexican mountains and the Southwestern US. It appears boldly colored in the open but disappears into the brush as if invisible. Habitat loss and overgrazing have diminished the bird’s range, but conservation agencies have been working together to protect it... read more »

Topics & Themes:  birding, birdwatching