Shows With Contributions by Gregg Thompson

Common Merganser

Common Mergansers Pushed by the Ice

Around this time of year, Common Mergansers cross the US-Canadian border on their way to wintering grounds in the Lower 48. But how do they know when to go? Ducks are well insulated against frigid winter temperatures, but mergansers can find their fishy prey only by diving below the…
Common Merganser

Common Merganser

The Common Merganser is one of our biggest ducks, about the size of some loons. Although it’s not closely related to loons, it has evolved a similar overall structure and predatory behavior. But a merganser has a unique feature: tooth-like serrations along the edge of the bill that help…
Ruffed Grouse

A Different Drumming

The drumming of the male Ruffed Grouse is one of the most evocative sounds of the North American forest. Familiar as these accelerating burps are to hunters and hikers, the origin of this bizarre sound was long a mystery. It took the advent of wildlife cinematography to solve the riddle…
Pileated Woodpecker nest with parent and chicks

What's Inside a Woodpecker's Nest Hole?

Many woodpeckers chisel out deep cavities in tree trunks in order to lay their eggs and raise their brood. The cavities hollowed out by the birds vary in size, depending on the species of woodpecker. The chamber of a tiny Downy Woodpecker descends about a foot from the opening, while the…
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…