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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

Mother Birds

Happy Mother's Day, from the whole BirdNote team!Avian motherhood is a mixed bag. Peregrine Falcon mothers share duties fairly equally with Peregrine dads. At the other end of the spectrum is the female hummingbird, which usually carries the entire burden of nesting, incubating, and tending the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Gulls or "Seagulls"?

Gulls seem so much a part of the sea that we often just call them "seagulls," a colloquial title for these graceful, ubiquitous creatures. Twenty-two species breed in North America. The Pacific coast is home to the aptly named Western Gulls. The familiar Ring-billed Gull nests all across the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ornithology

Great Horned Owl III

This Great Horned Owlet - about 2-1/2 months old and already as big as its parents - is quite well feathered, although its underparts remain downy. Its wing and tail feathers are developing nicely, and it has begun to make short flights. By mid-May, the owlet still relies almost entirely on its... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Common Eiders Favor Close Relatives

Some species of birds try to save energy by tricking others into incubating their eggs. After studying the nests of Common Eiders, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden determined that trickery among close relatives of the nest owners caused no aggression. But the attempts of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Robins and Earthworms: The Backstory

When glaciers pushed south into what is now the U.S. around 20,000 years ago, they scraped off the soil layer and spelled the end of native earthworms except in the southern states. So the earthworm plucked by the robin in the park or on your lawn is probably a relatively new arrival, most likely... read more »

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Skylark - With Aretha Franklin

Imagine: Singing for three minutes while soaring to 100 feet in the air, like the Skylark. None of the native birds of North America has such a long song or sings so persistently in flight. Around 1902, Skylarks were brought from England to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to satisfy the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, reflection

Which Bird Has the Most Feathers

In general, the bigger the bird, the higher the number of feathers. Someone counted the feathers on a Tundra Swan and came up with 25,216. At least 80% were on the swan’s neck. Penguins, on the other hand, have lots of small feathers all over their bodies. The largest species is the Emperor... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

People Improving the Lives of Birds

Over the years, BirdNote has paid tribute to people who improve the lives of birds. We find inspiration in the efforts of stewards such as Jim Brown, who’s preserving important habitat for birds such as this Lewis's Woodpecker, along the Clark Fork River in Montana. In downtown Chicago, Annette... read more »

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American Woodcock

At sunset, the male American Woodcock - a plump, robin-sized bird - walks slowly on short legs from the cover of the forest to a nearby clearing. After a few sharp calls, the woodcock takes flight. As it spirals upward, slim, stiff feathers at its wingtips create a curious twittering. At the apex... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Thomas Jefferson's Mockingbirds

Mockingbirds, masters of mimicry, are prone to ramble on and on. Sometimes they even sing at night. Thomas Jefferson kept Northern Mockingbirds in his office and sleeping quarters, while president in the early 1800s. One of Jefferson’s pet mockingbirds — named Dick— would perch on his shoulder... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, vocalization

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