Shows With Contributions by Bob Sundstrom

Closeup of a Northern Goshawk looking forward, sharp beak partly open, and yellow gold eyes

The Baddest Birds on the Block

Meet three of the most fearsome predatory birds. The Northern Goshawk is a silver blur when it rockets toward an unsuspecting grouse. The Brown Snake-Eagle snatches six-foot cobras off the ground. And the Eurasian Eagle-Owl preys on animals as large as deer fawns.
An American Robin standing in grass, with earthworms clasped in its beak

Robins Are Very Choosy Nesters

When scientists looked at climate data for more than 8,500 robins’ nests in the US, they found that robins will nest only if the mean noon temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. But even more critical is relative humidity: it needs to be around 50 percent in the middle of the day. What
Female Great-tailed Grackle striding across wet sand in sunlight

Great-tailed Grackles on the Move

The range and abundance of the Great-tailed Grackle have expanded significantly since 1900, when the species barely reached Texas from Mexico. One winter roost of grackles in South Texas was pegged at 500,000 birds! Great-tailed Grackles can present pest management problems for agriculture
A Warbling Vireo sitting in its small nest that is attached to a slender branch.

Choosing Where to Nest

When it comes to building a house, one of the first decisions is where to put it. The same is true for birds. It's called "nest site selection." And one thing most birds have in common? The female chooses the site. A robin builds its nest on top of a stout branch. This Warbling Vireo hangs
Rivoli's Hummingbird looking slightly to its left; the iridescent greenish blue color on its throat and some violet showing on its dark head

How Hummingbirds Got Their Sweet Tooth

All birds lack the typical gene for detecting sweetness, but hummingbirds avidly seek out sugary nectar. It turns out that evolution has transformed hummers’ taste receptors. Mutations to their savory taste receptor gene allowed the receptor to respond to sucrose and other sugars
A male Bobolink singing in the sunshine

Bobolinks

Washington Irving called the Bobolink "the happiest bird of our spring...he rises and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes ..." Bobolinks nest in hayfields and grasslands, returning north each spring, all the way from southern South America. Listen to more
Tufted Titmouse showing its grey back and perky little crest. It's perched on a branch and looks ready for takeoff.

Tufted Titmouse - What's in a Name?

A Tufted Titmouse has just about everything you could ask for in a backyard bird. Petite and strikingly elegant, it’s as perky as a chickadee. In fact, it’s a cousin to the chickadee. And as it comes boldly to your seed or suet feeders, the Tufted Titmouse will even hang upside down like
Prothonotary Warbler perched on a branch, its bright yellow body turned slightly to its left, with shiny dark eye and beak contrasting against the glowing yellow plumage

World of Warblers

May is the prime month across much of North America to celebrate the return of migratory birds from the tropics. Of all those coming back, it is the warblers that many birders eagerly await. And of the more than 50 species that brighten our spring, many gleam like precious stones. From the
An Osprey flying back to the nest while carrying a stick in its talons. The Osprey's wings are outstretched, the feathers's colors ranging from dark brown to white with brown stripes.

Ospreys Never Stop Building

Ospreys are remarkable nest builders. Many reuse their massive stick nests from the previous year, but continue tinkering with it once the nesting season begins. And the nest transforms along with the growing chicks. It’s bowl-shaped at first, corralling the young birds, but it gets
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Listen for Tapping

Woodpeckers are our most familiar bird carpenters, but other birds also chip out nests in trees and wood structures. Nuthatches — like this Red-breasted Nuthatch — are exceptional wood carvers, with their chisel-like bills. Chickadees will peck into less dense wood, carrying out wood chips