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Shows With Contributions by Michael Stein

Raven's Love Song

Ravens are seen as tricksters in many traditions. But Common Ravens have a softer side. During courtship, a pair will often sit side by side, sometimes preening each other's feathers. And during that ritual, one or both may make soft warbling sounds. Raven nestlings sometimes make this same sound... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, vocalization

Crowned-Pigeons: Big, Beautiful, Threatened

Imagine a pigeon the size of a Turkey Vulture or a Canada Goose! Meet the crowned-pigeon. Four species inhabit the large, equatorial island of New Guinea and a few smaller islands. Crowned-pigeons are forest birds and fruit-eaters, with iridescent purple chests and spectacular, tall, lacy crests... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  evolution

Examining Owl Pellets

A roosting owl often leaves visual clues to its whereabouts — a scattering of furry, oval objects below its perch — in the form of pellets. Because owls such as this Great Horned Owl often swallow their prey whole, their digestive system has to deal with bones, fur, and feathers. The owl’s... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Robin Orange-breast

Look closely and you’ll see: the European Robin’s breast isn’t red. It’s actually a distinctly orange color. So why “Redbreast” and not, you know, “Orange-breast”? It may be because the word “orange” just wasn’t an option when the bird was named. Oranges — the fruit — first arrived in England in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Golden Eagle - The Other Eagle

The Bald Eagle stands proud as our national bird, spreads its wings on our national emblem, and serves as mascot of countless sports teams. So prominent is this iconic bird in our culture that we sometimes overlook a second, equally majestic eagle: the Golden Eagle. While Bald Eagles are confined... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, myth

Beak Meets Seed

Birds like finches, chickadees and this Northern Cardinal love sunflower seeds, but each species uses a different strategy to extract the meat. When a finch plucks a sunflower seed from the feeder, it uses its tongue to maneuver the seed lengthwise into a groove on its beak. As it closes its beak... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, citizen science, science

Winter Romance - Common Goldeneyes

Most duck species court and form pair bonds in winter. In the icy waters of Vermont’s Lake Champlain, Common Goldeneyes are getting hot! This male is displaying his signature move, the “head-throw-kick,” to attract a mate. Goldeneye pairs now bonding throughout the US will migrate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

Mating for Life

Most bird species in North America mate for a single breeding season. Some may team up again the following year, just because both stay in - or return to - the same territory. Fewer than one-fifth of Song Sparrow pairs, like these, are reunited. Hawks, eagles, and ravens have wide territories,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

If It Weren't for Birds

If it weren't for birds, how many of us would take notice of the natural world? Birds are all around us. In our back yards or driving across country, most of the animals we see are birds. Many draw attention with their songs. Some birds hunt on the wing, and you'll see one if you watch the sky.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, reflection

Left Foot or Right? Handedness in Birds

A parrot’s eyes are located on the sides of its head. So, if it wants to look at something — say, a delicious piece of fruit — it has to cock its head one way or the other do it. And if it looks with its left eye, then uses its left foot. Scientists call this handedness. That’s when one hand — or... read more »

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