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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

A Heron Nest Starts with Just One Stick

During winter and early spring, Great Blue Herons build their nests high in the treetops. The male delivers the supplies to the nest site stick by stick, as the female arranges things. It’s the perfect childhood home for their young, made without blueprints, architects or engineers. But by early... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Which Chickadee - Black-capped or Carolina?

Of all the birds that turn up at birdfeeders, chickadees are favorites. And they’re instantly recognizable. Yet sometimes we have to ask ourselves: “Which chickadee is it?” In the eastern and central states, there are two species: Black-capped Chickadees in the north, and Carolina Chickadees... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, sound

American Robin, Valiant Challenger

The male American Robin - fiercely territorial - belts out its distinctive cheery song to defend its breeding territory from invasion by other robins. Sometimes, the robin sees its own reflection as an interloper and challenges the “invader” over and over, even to the point of exhaustion or... read more »

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The Peregrine Falcons of Rome

Falconer Steve Layman has worked closely with raptors for most of his life. And he has a theory that runs counter to what many scientists believe: he says not all predators hunt the weak and diseased. In Rome, for example, Steve observed Peregrine Falcons preying on fit, healthy, and nutritious... read more »

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Learning to Listen - Patterns in Songs of the Song Sparrow

Heidi Hoelting, a musician, listens carefully to the songs of birds. In her piano studio at her home in the woods, she wrote down several variations of the different sounds a Song Sparrow makes. In this BirdNote, Nancy Rumbel plays some of those variations on a bamboo whistle. Listen to all... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, vocalization

Cactus Wren Nest Orientation

Cactus Wrens, which may nest several times between March and September, carefully orient their nests in tune with the season. These bulky twig structures have a side entrance that curves toward the inner chamber. When building a nest for the hot months, the wren faces the opening to receive the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Remembering Mary Oliver

On January 17, 2019, renowned American poet Mary Oliver passed away. She was known for her beautiful writing about the natural world. We spoke with poet Traci Brimhall about Oliver's passing and asked her to read the first poem she ever memorized, Wild Geese. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

High Island - Migration on the Gulf

If you're near High Island, Texas in the spring, you might witness a "fallout," one of the great spectacles of bird migration. Thousands of birds, including Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, orioles, Painted Buntings, and warblers of all kinds, as well as tanagers and Indigo Buntings, like this one, drop... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Colors of Chicken Eggs

Except around Easter, chicken eggs usually come in a predictable range of colors: white, brown, and sometimes pale blue or green. Chickens are descended from the Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, which has been providing eggs for humans for thousands of years. The final color of an egg comes... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Hovering with Horned Larks

Horned Larks rival meadowlarks as the most colorful birds of North American grasslands. They live in prairies, fields, and tundra, but agriculture and development now intrude on many of the Horned Lark's traditional nesting areas. The farmland Conservation Reserve Program encourages agricultural... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

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