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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

Bird Life at the Grand Canyon

With its awe-inspiring vistas and eons of geologic time on display, the Grand Canyon also offers a unique habitat for birds. What you're likely to see first is this Bronzed Cowbird, strutting on the lawn of a lodge or restaurant. Common Ravens call and squabble. If you're lucky, you may spot the... read more »

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Northern Goshawks and Fire

Among the great firs and Ponderosa pines of Stanislaus National Forest in central California, Northern Goshawk nestlings crowd a platform nest of branches and pine needles halfway up a mature fir tree. In 2013, what’s known as the Rim Fire occurred, and some of the area burned with high intensity... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Magnificent Frigatebird Drum Roll

Magnificent Frigatebirds are huge, gangly seabirds found around the warm waters of the Western Hemisphere. When it comes time to mate, males inflate giant red throat sacs, then rattle and drum their bills against them to create jazzy percussive sounds. read more »

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Marsh Voices at Sunrise

In marshes across the country, birds awaken on a summer morning. Tall dense grasses and reeds often make marsh birds hard to see, but their voices carry easily across the lush, green landscape. You can hear birds like the Redhead, the Sora, the American Bittern, the Ruddy Duck, this Yellow-headed... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Double-jointed Hawks and Convergent Evolution

Crane Hawks of Central and South America and African Harrier-Hawks both have legs that bend forward and backward. Each bird’s wonderfully peculiar leg adaptation is completely original - it evolved all on its own - even though the end result is the same. Scientists call this convergent evolution. read more »

Mountain Walk with Bird Songs

A hike through the mountains of the West, from the lowlands to the rocky alpine zones, reveals an incredibly diverse array of beautiful birds: Swainson’s Thrushes, Pine Grosbeaks, American Pipits and so many more to be found. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, vocalization

Birdhouses in Turkey

It’s easy to imagine that putting up a birdhouse or nestbox is a relatively recent practice. But in Turkey, it has a long history. Since at least the 13th century and continuing through the period of Ottoman rule, birdhouses were placed on all sorts of structures: mosques (like this one – the... read more »

Crested Auklets Entice Their Mates with Scent

Crested Auklets are small seabirds that nest on remote cliffs in the Northern Pacific and the Bering Sea. But it’s their smell that really sets these birds apart. They smell like tangerines! Experiments show that females go for males that emit the strongest scents.This episode brought to us by... read more »

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Fairy-Wrens Sing Secret Passwords to Unborn Chicks

Superb Fairy-wrens teach their embryonic chicks a secret code. This "incubation call" contains a special note that will later serve as a password. When the chicks have hatched, this password enables the adult birds to identify their babies in the darkness of their domed nest. A species of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science, sound

Why Do Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers Look So Similar?

Generations of birders have puzzled over how to tell Downy Woodpeckers from Hairy Woodpeckers. The two species’ patterns of black and white feathers are so alike that it was long thought they were the closest of relatives. The two live in similar woods, nest in similar trees, and eat many of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  evolution

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