Shows With Contributions by Gregg Thompson

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 Gregg Thompson

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
Peregrine Falcon attacking shorebirds, Samish Flats, Washington

Peregrine-Shorebird Interaction

Have you ever seen a Peregrine Falcon attack a flock of shorebirds, igniting a breathtaking aerial display? The late falcon researcher Steve Herman called this pattern of evasion "instantaneous synchronicity." The shorebird flock will often form a cone, with the sharpest point shifting
Rufous Hummingbird at nest with her chick

Rufous Hummingbirds in Summer

In July, the female Rufous Hummingbird has fledged her first two nestlings and is just about to fledge another. The chick is now as big as its mother, making the walls of the walnut-sized nest bulge outwards at maximum capacity. It takes about 40 days to fledge each brood, from egg-laying
Hairy Woodpecker

Do Woodpeckers Harpoon Their Prey?

Because many woodpeckers have pointed tongues, it was once assumed that they “harpoon” their prey. But what they actually do is more complex. Like a safe-cracker in a movie, birds like this Hairy Woodpecker use a killer combination of sensitivity and force. First, as it scales a tree trunk
Varied Thrush

Secretive Varied Thrush

Except in winter, when it gathers in loose flocks to move to lower elevations, this shy bird prefers solitude. The intricate pattern of color on its wings resembles dappled sunlight on the forest floor. Naturalist Louis Agassiz Fuertes called the song of the Varied Thrush, "... as