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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

February Summer in Argentina

In February, winter still holds sway over much of North America. But in Argentina, it’s summer, and birds are in full voice. Argentina’s national bird, the Rufous Hornero, belts out a rapid trill while the Rufous-bellied Thrush sings its lovely song. In the tropical forests of northeastern... read more »

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Anna's Hummingbirds Winter in the North

Most hummingbirds retreat south in autumn, but Anna's Hummingbirds are found in northern latitudes throughout the year. Since 1960, they've moved their year-round limit north from California to British Columbia. They're taking advantage of flowering plants and shrubs, as well as hummingbird... read more »

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Palm Cockatoo Gets the Girl

The male Palm Cockatoo uses his enormous beak to break off a stick or seedpod from a tree. The bird then fashions it into a sort of drumstick. Clutching the stick in his left foot, he beats on a hollow tree or dead branch. Most animals that use tools do so to get food. But these cockatoos seem to... read more »

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The Cactus Wren's Signature Voice

Most wrens in North America are small, furtive birds that stay deep in the vegetation. But the Cactus Wren is large, bold, and brassy. These wrens are well adapted to the desert and can get all the moisture they need from their food. Cactus Wren nests are a regular sight in their range of dry... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Bird Tracks in the Snow

Look for the stories birds tell with their tracks in the snow. A crow swaggers, leaving right-and-left steps much as a walking human would. Juncos under a birdfeeder leave a hopping pattern of tiny footprints in side-by-side pairs. Look for beak marks, where a bird picked up a choice morsel or... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Snowy Owls

Do Snowy Owls hunt during the day or at night? As they are normally arctic birds, Snowy Owls are adapted to hunt both during the long hours of summer and the near-total night of winter. During the winter, these birds can sometimes be found as far south as the northern United States, where they... read more »

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Sandgrouse - Desert Water-carriers

Sandgrouse live in some of the most parched environments on earth. To satisfy the thirst of their chicks, male sandgrouse carry water back to the nest in a surprising but effective way: by carrying it in their feathers. Thanks to coiled hairlike extensions on the feathers of the underparts, a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Crows Preening

American Crows and other birds groom each other while sitting side by side on a wire or branch. One stretches out its neck, and the groomer, or preener, twirls individual feathers in its beak, often starting at the back of the head and working around to the front. This grooming, known as ... read more »

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Here Come the Barred Owls

The emphatic hoots of a pair of Barred Owls resonate in the still of a winter's night. Like many owls, Barred Owls initiate their vocal courtship in winter. A fairly large owl - a perching bird is 21 inches tall - Barred Owls are also among the most vocal. More than a dozen Barred Owl calls range... read more »

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Of Grouse and Gizzards

During winter, the Greater Sage-Grouse is wholly reliant on its namesake species — sagebrush — for both shelter and for food. Scientists call this bird "sagebrush obligate," meaning it needs this plant to survive. In the spring, its diet shifts to insects and plants, as it gets ready for the most... read more »

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