Shows With Contributions by Bob Sundstrom

Hummingbird sitting on its tiny nest built of plant material held together with spider's silk

Spider Silk - Duct Tape for Bird Nests

The spider’s web is an intricate piece of precision engineering. Made from large proteins, it’s sticky, stretchy, and tough. So it’s no surprise that many small birds — including this Anna’s Hummingbird — make a point of collecting strands of spider silk to use in nest construction. Spider…
A Russet-backed Oropendola looks out above a fruiting branch. The bird is dark brown and has a long narrow sharp orange beak.

Seasonal Flooding of the Amazon

When it’s predictable and wildlife is well adapted, natural flooding can create a biological bonanza. In the Amazon River Basin, which holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water, annual rains can raise water levels 30 to 40 feet in just days. Forests turn into vast lakes, dotted with trees…
Gartered Trogon perched on branch

Which Species of Bird Sings First in the Morning?

The dawn chorus is that time when, just before sunrise, birds begin to sing. One by one, then all together, their voices join to greet the new day. But which bird sings first? The timing of when a bird joins the chorus seems to depend on how well it can see in low light. So the birds with…
Bar-tailed Godwit flock

Precision Flight in Flocks: How Does It Work?

A flock of shorebirds flying wingtip to wingtip seems to act like a single organism, rolling and twisting in exquisite patterns. Flocks like these use a combination of two organizational patterns. One is a “cluster”: lots of birds flying together in a loose, three-dimensional cloud. The…
Kestrel nestlings in a nest box

Kestrels Love Nest Boxes

This American Kestrel evolved to nest in tree cavities or small caves in cliffs. We humans have made life difficult for kestrels. Development has shrunk the open spaces they need. We’ve cleared away dead trees they rely on for nests and sprayed pesticides that eliminate the insects the…
Canvasbacks 2014-15 Duck Stamp artwork by Adam Grimm

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge

The United States is home to more than 550 National Wildlife Refuges - havens for wildlife, including this Canvasback. But only one refuge can claim the distinction of being international: the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. It hosts millions of migratory ducks annually in the…
Roseate Tern flock on nesting grounds

Have You Ever Seen a Pink Gull?

Some gulls and terns may show a glowing pink color, similar to that of flamingos and spoonbills. This pink color comes from pigments in the birds' food called carotenoids. These gulls and terns are able to convert these naturally occurring pigments to hues that may enhance their success at…
Scarlet Tanager showing vivid red plumage on head and body, with dramatic black eye, wing, and tail.

Scarlet Tanagers Under the Canopy

In summer, the forests of the eastern United States are home to a bounty of birds, including this gorgeous Scarlet Tanager, which spends most of the year in tropical South America. The male’s body is a dazzling red, in contrast to his black wings and tail. It seems that these boldly…
Chuck-will's-widow

Night Voices - Nightjars

As darkness descends on a May evening, the voices of many birds go quiet. But for some birds, especially those known as nightjars, the music is just beginning! An Eastern Whip-poor-will shouts out its name. The call of a Common Poorwill echoes across a canyon. A Common Pauraque calls from…
Lesser Yellowlegs, its wings raised as it balances on the slender tip of a tree in the sunlight

Singing Sandpipers

We've all seen sandpipers foraging busily on mudflats or at the ocean's edge. But this Lesser Yellowlegs often carols from the top of a tall conifer in its nesting territory in Alaska. The name "sandpiper" actually comes from the voices of these birds, rather than from their long-billed…