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Shows With Contributions by Bob Sundstrom

How Geese Made History

It was the wing feathers of geese that supplied most of the quill pens that were humanity’s prime writing tool for more than 1200 years—from the 6th century until the 1820s, when steel pens took over. The lightweight goose quill has a hollow shaft ideal for storing ink. With a smooth, light... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Roseate Spoonbill

Of all the bold colors nature has bestowed on birds, bright pink may be the most surprising. And just about the hottest pink bird of all lives year round along the Gulf of Mexico — the Roseate Spoonbill. These birds stand out, especially when flying against a blue sky. And the spoon-shaped... read more »

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Henry David Thoreau and the Wood Thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: "This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning." Wood Thrushes thrive in large expanses of forest. And their numbers have... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is one of the least studied and least known of all birds in North America. Northern Hawk Owls are owls, but they share several traits with hawks and falcons: A streamlined body shape, daytime hunting habits, and stiff wing feathers for daytime hunting. (Owls that hunt at... read more »

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The Phoebe and the Pewee

The Eastern Phoebe (pictured here) is one of the most familiar flycatchers east of the Rockies. Because the Eastern Phoebe repeats its name when it sings, it’s a pretty straightforward voice to identify and remember. But there’s another flycatcher east of the Rockies that whistles its name over... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Voices and Vocabularies - Robin's Evening Song

During the day, an American Robin, a member of the thrush family, sings a lovely, familiar song of rich phrases. But as the sun begins to set, robin song takes on a different character. From sunset until dark, a robin adds ethereal whispered notes to its carol, creating a song of remarkable grace... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

Saving Snags for Red-headed Woodpeckers

Red-headed Woodpeckers excavate cavities in large, dead trees called snags. Yet, over much of the Red-head's range, snags are frequently cut down as unsightly, or because they make good firewood. There are ways we can help the Red-headed Woodpecker -- and many other woodpeckers, too. The key is... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening, nesting

Voices and Vocabularies - Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owls have a lot to say! When a pair of Great Horned Owls calls in a duet, the female usually hoots first, and the male replies at a lower pitch. Great Horned Owls may also pierce the darkness with an eerie shriek, which may signal a hungry owlet begging for food or a female defending... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound

What’s a Beak Made Of?

Bird beaks, or bills, come in many shapes and sizes. And birds use them for just about everything: to collect food, preen, fight, court (as this pair of Laysan Albatrosses is doing), chop holes in trees, weave nests, and more. In order for a bird to fly, its beak must weigh as little as possible.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

How Many Eggs to Lay?

When nesting, most birds lay a predictable number of eggs. Bald Eagles: 2. Bluebirds: 4 to 6. Mallards: 10 to 12. But how do they determine when they have laid the right number? To find out, scientists experimented by going to nests and repeatedly removing eggs soon after they were laid. Some... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, ornithology

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