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Shows With Contributions by John Kessler

Birds in Music

We have many examples of music inspired by birdsong, but there are also composers who have used actual bird sounds in their works, including Ottorino Respighi in his 1923 work, The Pines of Rome. When Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara composed "Cantus Arcticus" (also known as "Concerto for... read more »

Topics & Themes:  music

Hakalau Forest National Refuge - With Jack Jeffrey

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1985 to protect endangered birds and their rainforest habitat. Only about 25% of old-growth forests remain on the Big Island of Hawaii, and people like Jack Jeffrey have been working to protect and restore them. 60-70% of the plants in Hawaii... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, environmental champion

Jazz for the Birds

Birds are an inspiration for many musicians. Before writing “The Penguin,” Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo. Though penguins are clumsy on land, Gentoos like the ones pictured here are the fastest of any diving bird, reaching 22 miles an hour. Speaking of swimmers,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  music

Hitchcock's Movie, The Birds

In Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller, "The Birds," Bodega Bay, California, is inexplicably besieged by crazed birds. After the birds attack and kill several residents, the townspeople flee in terror. We never find out why the birds became deranged, but research may give Hitchcock's film some... read more »

Topics & Themes:  humor

Jay and Martin

Just for a LARK, MARTIN and JAY decided to have a SWALLOW. MARTIN's car, a FALCON, was low on PETREL, so he said, "Let's DUCK into a local tavern - TERN here." They had to show IDs at the door, to prove they weren't TANAGERS. MARTIN and JAY met some cute GULLS - PHOEBE, a RAVEN-haired CHICK, and... read more »

Topics & Themes:  humor, language

Tweety Bird

Do you recall when you were a young Saturday-morning birdwatcher, learning the intricate lessons of predator-prey relationships? Twitiavis superciliosis is a small, animated yellow bird, native to Southern California. It's particularly susceptible to predation, and so has developed a complex... read more »

Topics & Themes:  Hollywood, humor

Pied-billed Grebes - With Martin Muller

Birds, while guided by instinct, seem able to adapt to specific situations. Martin Muller is an expert on waterbirds called Pied-billed Grebes. One spring day, on an urban lake in Seattle, Martin observed a pair of grebes switching roles in order to protect their young and defend their territory.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Consider the Ostrich

The flightless Ostrich is a bird of superlatives. It's the largest and tallest bird on the planet, growing to maybe eight feet tall, and weighing 250 pounds! It's also the fastest creature on two legs, capable of running at 40 miles an hour. Ostriches have never been observed to stick their heads... read more »


Radar Ornithology with Dr. Cliff Mass

Did you know that weather radar can track the migration of birds? Dr. Cliff Mass, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, describes the radar images from a massive migration through the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Shortly after midnight on September 8, huge... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Precious Poop

Seabird poop, known as guano, has been used to enrich soil, to make gunpowder, and believe it or not, as a skin treatment. Bird poop is a valuable commodity. South America's Pacific Coast has some of the world's largest deposits of guano, from species including the Peruvian Pelican, the Peruvian... read more »

Topics & Themes:  history, humor