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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

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

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

How Long Does a Robin Live

The mortality rate is high in our familiar songbirds. For robins, it's around 50% each year once young birds have fledged. If a robin survives to midwinter, it lives an average of 1.7 years after that. The oldest robins in your yard might be about six years old, although one banded bird lived... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting, science

Why a Gorget Glitters

A hummingbird's brilliant throat feathers are called a "gorget," a term applied in past centuries to the metallic swatch protecting the throat of a knight-in-armor. Light waves reflect and refract off the throat feathers, creating color in the manner of sun glinting off a film of oil on water.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  plumage

Australia's Rainforest Birds

The rainforests of Eastern and Northeastern Australia harbor many species of birds found almost nowhere else. This Eastern Whipbird — which is more often heard than seen — hangs out in the dense understory. Easier to lay eyes on is the large, pigeon-like Wompoo Fruit-Dove. Feathered in a stunning... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization


Here and there along winter shorelines, little flocks of pale, silvery shorebirds probe at the water's edge, keeping pace with each wave's ebb and flow. These are Sanderlings, small sandpipers that stay through the winter. Rachel Carson, in Under the Sea Wind, described Sanderlings as running ... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration

Cranes' Voices Across the Globe

There are fifteen species of cranes across the globe, found everywhere but Antarctica and South America. During the winter, cranes forage and rest together by the thousands. Listen in to the voices of cranes from all over the world. Nothing evokes the spirit of the wild like the voices of these... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

February Summer in Argentina

In February, winter still holds sway over much of North America. But in Argentina, it’s summer, and birds are in full voice. Argentina’s national bird, the Rufous Hornero, belts out a rapid trill while the Rufous-bellied Thrush sings its lovely song. In the tropical forests of northeastern... read more »


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