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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

Nictitating Membranes - Nature's Goggles

For most birds, keen eyesight is critical for survival. But many birds lead lives that can be very hard on the eyes — like flying at breakneck speed, racing for cover into a dense thicket, or diving under water to capture prey. Imagine how the chips fly as this Pileated Woodpecker chisels a... read more »

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The Peregrine Falcon Makes a Comeback

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which came out in 1962, linked the pesticide DDT to the decline of many birds, including songbirds. But Peregrine Falcons and other raptors had declined, too. When the birds ingested DDT, it caused their eggshells to thin and break under the weight of the incubating... read more »

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Gliding with Tropicbirds

With the strong, direct flight of a falcon, a tropicbird can catch a flying fish on the wing, or plunge like an arrow into the sea and — with its serrated bill — capture a squid. Three species of tropicbirds range through most of the tropical latitudes of the world's oceans, and have done so for... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  myth

Patrick Comins, on Being a Conservationist

Patrick Comins, executive director of Connecticut Audubon, explains what being a conservationist means to him. "If you've ever seen a Scarlet Tanager you don't even have to describe how wonderful they are. It's this variety and diversity of birds that really got me interested. While a lot of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Trogons Nest with Wasps

The "Violaceous" Trogon (recently split into three species), which nests in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, often excavates its dwelling within a large, active wasp or termite nest. It begins by devouring some of the insects, then digs a cavity large enough to accommodate the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Western Tanagers Are Flashes of Bright Color

Western Tanagers dart from tree to tree, on the lookout for delicious bugs. They’ll find them by scanning the tree bark — or maybe snatching them from mid-air during flight — a tactic called hawking. Come winter, these lovely songbirds head south, where they fit right in with the other brightly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Attu and Its Island-hopping Rock Ptarmigan

Attu, at the western end of Alaska’s Aleutian chain, is home to the Rock Ptarmigan. Although grouse are not long-distance fliers, Rock Ptarmigans can cross open water, so they occur from one end of the Aleutians to the other. They are supremely adapted for high latitudes, with thick feathers,... read more »

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Great Horned Owls Nest

High in a leafless cottonwood, a female Great Horned Owl incubates two eggs. As light snow falls on her back, her mate roosts nearby. Since December, this pair has been hooting back and forth regularly at night. Great Horned Owls nest in winter, because the owlets, which hatch after a month of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Capuchinbirds

The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken with the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre birds in South America. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Winter Sounds of the Lower Rio Grande

In the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where the Rio Grande River borders Mexico, birds commonly found in Central America reach their northern-most range. Here you can find fascinating birds like this Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, a tiny flycatcher with a long name! You’ll also see colorful... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, sound

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