Shows With Contributions by Gregg Thompson

Pair of Barred Owls perched on a branch

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. And they're among the most vocal. These owls have more than a dozen calls, ranging from a "siren call" to a "wail" to a wonderfully
Pied-billed Grebe feeding feather to her chicks

Why Do Grebes Eat Their Feathers?

Eared Grebes eat brine shrimp and aquatic insects for sustenance, but rigid exoskeletons make them hard to digest. So these grebes -- along with their other grebe cousins -- evolved to use their feathers as a way to slow down digestion. The feathers form dense balls in the digestive tract
Arctic Tern

Why Arctic Terns Have Short Beaks

The bill and legs of Arctic Terns are shorter than those of Common Terns. Because Arctic Terns breed in the Arctic and winter in the Antarctic, they are subject to much colder weather than are Common Terns. Birds' bills and legs lose heat, because they're not covered by feathers. Birds in
Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Doves' Sense of Direction

The Eurasian Collared-Dove is rapidly increasing across the US and southern Canada. This sandy pink bird with the neat black neckband was released in the Bahamas in the 1960s. Brought in as pets, some doves escaped. They made it to Florida a few years later and have been spreading in a
Merlin readying for takeoff

Here Come the Merlins

Smaller than a pigeon — but fierce enough to knock one from the air — are the powerful, compact falcons known as Merlins. Climate change is pushing ranges of many birds farther north, but more and more Merlins have been nesting farther south, in towns and cities across the northern United
Golden-crowned Kinglet

Yogi Berra's Wit and Wisdom

The late Yogi Berra, renowned New York Yankees catcher, is sometimes remembered less for his exceptional play and more for his turns of phrase. One of which was reported as, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” When it comes to observing birds such as this Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet and Common Raven

Songbirds: The Large and Small of It

The group of birds called “songbirds” — the perching birds — is incredibly broad. Half the world’s 10,000 birds are in the songbird group, and their range of body sizes is mind-boggling. One of the smallest songbirds in North America is the Golden-crowned Kinglet, barely larger than a
Lincoln's Sparrow

October Migrants - Look Who's Back!

In the October sunlight, a Lincoln's Sparrow – like this one – sings energetically from a hedgerow. Soon a Fox Sparrow chimes in. Both nested in Alaska last summer but will spend the winter farther south. The Snow Geese are moving, too. A massive movement of birds takes place in the fall
Greater Yellowlegs

Shorebirds Watch Their Feet

Greater Yellowlegs — not surprisingly — have bright yellow legs and feet. And why? While foraging through shallow water, a yellowlegs (like this one) can keep track of its legs by the color, which contrasts with the sometimes dark and irregular bottom. A Sanderling, on the other hand, has
Northern Flicker

Woodpeckers as Keystone Species

Woodpeckers - including this Northern Flicker - are master carpenters of the bird world. They're called "keystone" species for their crucial role in creating habitat suited to other woodland wildlife. Abandoned woodpecker nest-holes become nests or roosts for small owls, cavity-nesting