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South America

When Birds Ruled the Earth

A bird known as Titanis walleri made its home in Florida just a few million years ago. Titanis, as its name suggests, was titanic indeed - a flightless predator, ten feet tall, with a massive hooked bill. Titanis and other birds related to it belong to a group some paleontologists call the ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  fossil, science

Short-eared Owl

Flapping with deep, slow wing-motion, a Short-eared Owl appears almost to float above the ground. This owl has an extensive world range, including North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Still, it's declining, due to development, agriculture, and overgrazing. American Bird Conservancy and... read more »

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The Elegant Black Tern

Elegant Black Terns breed in summer on secluded wetlands across the northern states and Canada. Because of major losses of wetlands in their breeding range — especially in Canada's prairie provinces — Black Tern numbers have dropped dramatically since the 1960s. The future of this beautiful bird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, ornithology

Franklin's Gull - The Half-time Seagull

Gulls are often called "seagulls," but many spend a lot of time far away from the sea. The Franklin's Gull breeds in freshwater wetlands more than 5,000 miles from its winter home at the ocean. After the breeding season, they ascend high in the sky for their long flight across the Equator to the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

A male Buff-breasted Sandpiper courts a female on their breeding grounds far north of the Arctic Circle. He raises his wings, flashing their silvery-white undersides, as he sings his clicking serenade. These birds spend much of the year on grasslands in Argentina, migrating to the Arctic in late... read more »

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Cerulean Warblers Link Conservation on Two Continents

In winter, the Cerulean Warbler forages in tree-tops of the Andes Mountains. In May, at the other end of a 2,500-mile migration, the very same bird sings from the tree-tops in the Appalachian Mountains. The Cerulean Warbler is one of the most threatened birds in the US. American Bird Conservancy... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Rufous-collared Sparrow - Tico-Tico

The song Tico-Tico no Fuba, like Carmen Miranda, came to us from Brazil. Believe it or not, the song is about a bird. The Portuguese lyrics tell the story of the tico-tico, a local name for the Rufous-collared Sparrow. Like so many birds, tico-tico was named for its song. In the song, the bird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Darwin Meets Penguins

Charles Darwin's insights during his travels on the HMS Beagle in the 1830s revolutionized the natural sciences. And his personal accounts of the journey, such as his encounters with Magellanic Penguins, tell captivating stories. As an experiment, Darwin stood between a penguin and the sea. The... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Galapagos Penguins and the Tsunami - With Dee Boersma

University of Washington professor Dee Boersma is concerned about Galapagos Penguins because of the increased frequency of El Nino. So Dee's team and their partners at the Galapagos National Park recently built about 120 "penguin condos." These are lava burrows near the coast, most between half a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion, nesting

Common Potoo with Nancy Rumbel

The Common Potoo is a nocturnal bird of Central and South America, known for its camouflage plumage and upright perching. Nancy Rumbel, who composed the theme music for BirdNote, improvises here with the call of the Common Potoo. Using the pentatonic scale of the potoo, Nancy responds with her... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, vocalization

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