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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

How Humans Affect Competition Among Birds

Evolutionary time is long — the earliest ancestors of birds emerged around 50 million years ago. Against that yardstick, the length of time humans have been living in cities is a blip. But that blip has resulted in huge changes for urban birds, crows in particular, as John Marzluff explores in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

Female Blackbirds Choose Their Mates

One male Red-winged Blackbird’s marshland territory may include five—or even as many as fifteen—nesting females. And he makes an effort to mate with every one of them. Biologists call this polygyny - when one male claims breeding rights with multiple females. But while this may look like the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Making a Home Among the Saguaros

In the arid Arizona desert, where cacti thrive but trees are scarce, the Gila Woodpecker and this Gilded Flicker carve out nest cavities in living saguaros. Tall, old saguaros may be pocked with twenty or more nest holes, bearing witness to decades of woodpecker families. The woodpeckers excavate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Unlikely Places to Go Birding

Birding is often best in the least likely places. At sewage treatment plants, watch for ducks and gulls - and raptors keeping watch over them all. Another place might be your local landfill or dump. The Brownsville, Texas dump was, for years, the only place in the US you could find this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Spring Migration Across the Globe

Each spring, millions of birds head north. From Ecuador, beautiful Scarlet Tanagers fly to the eastern US and Canada, many traversing the Gulf of Mexico, an arduous journey. Across much of southern Europe, Common Nightingales – small thrushes with russet feathers – are arriving, having traveled... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Birds Dress for Spring

It's spring! And for many birds, a time to look their best to attract a new mate. This American Goldfinch has recently molted. Its old, worn-down feathers have fallen out, and new ones have grown in. When goldfinches molt in the fall, they lose these brightly colored feathers. Their winter... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Frigatebirds' Kleptoparasitism

In the warmer regions of the world’s oceans, large seabirds called boobies plunge headfirst into the water, snatching up fish. But as a booby flies up from the waves with a fish now in its gullet, there may be another big seabird — a frigatebird — with its eye on the booby’s fresh catch. Now... read more »

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Rivers of Birds

One of the world champions of long-distance migration is the Arctic Tern. Arctic Terns nest across the far northern reaches of the continent during our summer, then fly south to Antarctica for the rest of the year. Some will circle the polar ice-pack before heading north again, completing a total... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher: Little Bird with a Big Story

The slim, 4½-inch Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is found over much of the East and Midwest and in parts of the West, too. It actively searches trees and bushes for small bugs to eat, often hovering briefly and flaring a long black-and-white tail.This show is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of... read more »

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Lewis's Woodpeckers and Pine Forests

A century of logging and fire control has taken its toll on the mature pine forests of the West, the preferred nest site for this Lewis's Woodpecker. But there is hope. Lewis's Woodpeckers also nest along rivers in large cottonwoods, trees of little value for timber. Also, many remaining tracts... read more »

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