Birds

NH Audubon

Those of you who keep a close eye on the Peregrine Falcon cam in Manchester, will be well acquainted with the saga these birds have undergone. If you're not, NH Audubon's Chris Martin recorded a quick recap last year.

The song of the veery is a haunting, ethereal song. Males sing at dusk, a time when not many other birds sing and daytime winds have calmed. It's also a time when the air turns damp; dense, moist air transfers sound waves better than dry air.

If you listen to the song carefully, you can hear an echo or tremolo effect (more on this below), because songbirds have, essentially, a double voice box that can produce two notes at the same time. (The left voice box is lower pitched than the right one.) In a sense, a singing veery harmonizes with itself.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

If you visit Appledore Island during spring bird migration, consider wearing a helmet.

“Yeah I mean the herring gulls will hit you and it’s jarring, but the black-backs hitting you can do some serious damage,” says Sarah Courchesne, a sea-gull researcher with Tufts University, as she and her students suit up to go out and catch seagulls.

The gulls that nest around the research station get very protective this time of year

Warm Weather Heralds Prime Bird Watching Season

May 4, 2015
JD via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/eUKGG8

If this past winter had you longing for sunny days and spending more times outdoors, you’re certainly not alone. As northerly winds make way for the warm southerly breezes, you’ll likely notice quite a few more birds at the feeders and songbirds chirping away out of sight. Spring is prime-time for bird watching and while you may have noticed the return of the Red-winged Blackbirds back in March, and perhaps a surge in waterfowl sightings, there a plenty more feathered friends winging their way north.

Colleen P. via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/nBkdFS

It was a long hard winter – but temperatures are finally climbing and bird song is erupting across New Hampshire. Today is Bird Day and we’ll talk about the sounds of spring migration – and hear how you can keep traveling birds from flying into your windows. Plus, an amateur photographer and creator of the #WorstBirdPic Meme comes to terms with the fact that 99% of his bird photos are blurry.

And two spring traditions come together in a new project that’s just sprouted at Fenway Park: an organic rooftop garden. 

Shell Game / Flickr/Creative Commons

One of the rituals I shared with my children when they were growing up was stalking woodcocks during their spring courtship display. I guess I was sort of emulating a hero of mine named Aldo Leopold.

The Uncommon History of the Common Junco

Mar 6, 2015
Blake Matheson via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

Trevor Dennis / Flickr/CC

  New Hampshire wildlife officials say several more ducks have died since nearly two dozen of the wild birds were found dead in a storm runoff basin in Concord.

Conservation officers recovered 22 dead ducks Saturday from the oil-contaminated water at a housing development. Another four ducks were captured and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, but two have since died, along with another duck found walking in a driveway.

Officials are investigating how what appears to be motor oil ended up in the basin.

Trevor Dennis / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire wildlife officials say 22 wild ducks were 

found dead in oil-contaminated water in a storm runoff basin at a Concord housing development.

Officials say the dead birds were recovered Saturday by conservation officers using nets while contending with extreme cold temperatures, deep snow and thin ice. Another four ducks were captured and taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

capegirl52 via Flickr

Right now the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun.  Light enters our atmosphere at a much shallower angle and for fewer hours each day.  To put it simply, it's cold in New England. And as sure as January's cold the usual grumblings from residents about the plunging mercury abound.  It isn’t surprising when you consider how poorly adapted we humans are for living in the cold.  However, adaptations in other species in New Hampshire have allowed them to flourish.  

The stately Raven has garnered many connotations over the years, chief among them are for the bird’s intelligence. Additionally, this largest of songbirds is also known for is aerobic alacrity - flying upside down, doing barrel, etc - and playful proclivities.

Stories of their intelligence abound, including one that involves Cheetos. A wildlife biologist was attempting to trap and band ravens. To lure them in, he spread Cheetos on snow and the bright orange color soon attracted several ravens, which were then snared by leg traps under the snow.

Jeff Finn / Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44459766@N02/6385935213

It was a record year for red-bellied woodpeckers in New Hampshire. That's the word from New Hampshire's birders as the international Christmas Bird Count tradition comes to a close.

Overall, bird enthusiasts from 21 regions across the state are reporting both high individual bird counts, and high species counts.  

As volunteers fan out across the state for the annual Christmas Bird Count, they’re likely to see two noteworthy species down from the north this year. Both are named "Crossbills" for unique bills that actually do cross, all the better to pry seeds from a conifer cone.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tis the season for Christmas carols but at Something Wild one in particular captures our attention: The Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are a lot of birds featured in the song but, like so many of our carols, the lyrics are from old Europe and don’t really speak to life in 21st century New England.  So we thought maybe it’s time for an update… a rewrite… a New Hampshire Christmas carol.

We’ll skip over days twelve through eight – those all have to do with crafts people and artisans – and jump right to the important stuff – the BIRDS!

heipei via flickr Creative Commons

From the Afghan girl with startling green eyes to the ghostly wreckage of the Titanic, there’s just something about the iconic covers of National Geographic that burns into our collective memory. On today’s show: we get an insider’s view of the cover selection process.

Then, from microscopic lenses to compact cameras, the digital age has upped the ante for nature photographers and opened the door for whole new levels of disruption and manipulation. We’ll ponder the ethics of wildlife photography.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Not so long ago, most parents had a pretty simple stance on pot : just say no. But legalization has made the conversation a lot more complicated. On today’s show: how to talk to your kids about marijuana.

Plus, a look at the strange subculture behind the Oxford dictionary’s 2014 word of the year: vape. More on an e-cigarette industry that’s projected to reach 10 billion dollars in the next 3 years.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Chris Martin / Courtesy of NH Audubon

November is a great time to spot golden eagles. They are a rare sight in New Hampshire, but they do pass through the state on their annual migration. Right now they’re on their way south to winter in the central Appalachians. They’ll pass back through the state in March on their way to Labrador and northern Quebec to nest.

Golden eagles are sometimes confused with young bald eagles, but there are differences. When bald eagles are in flight, they hold their wings flat like a plank, but golden eagle wings have a slight ‘V’ shape.

The Birds Of Winter

Nov 20, 2014
Chesapeake Bay Program via flickr Creative Commons

Heading south for winter is tempting for humans even in early November. And while many birds do fly south to escape the New Hampshire winter, a fair number of our feathered friends stick around and brave the snow and cold.

Ryan Van Lenning / via flickr Creative Commons

Not so long ago, when talking to kids about marijuana, the script for parents was simple: just say no. But legalization has made the conversation more complicated. On today’s show, how to talk to kids about marijuana.

Then we examine a growing issue for some working parents: the forever clock. From all-night diners to big box stores that never close, our economies run 24-7. We’ll take a look at the latest in around-the-clock service: 24 hour day care.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Tiago Cabral via flickr Creative Commons

November's gray skies carry the last of the migrating Canada geese, graceful ribbons of true wild Canadians on a long-distance flight. These aren't the New England locals, flying low from golf course to cornfield.

The northerners are vocal in flight. Geese are highly social, vocal year-round as they maintain relationships both within the family grouping and the greater flock. Vocalizing by young begins within the egg before hatching, and helps build a strong family bond that lasts a full year.

Courtesy Town of Monroe

You know how New Hampshire likes to be first in the nation when it comes to politics? Well, it turns out we’re stragglers in another category: sandhill cranes. They’ve been nesting in our neighboring states of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, but they never went granite until this year.

Kevin Burgio remembered the first time he saw monk parakeets. He was out bird watching "and I ran across this puddle that had like five or six monk parakeets drinking from it," he said. "I'm like, what the hell is that? Did someone lose, like, five parrots? I didn't know there were parrots here."

Something Wild: Azure Crescendo

Oct 3, 2014
Kelly Colgan Azar via flickr Creative Commons

Generations ago, when people lived closer to the natural world, more outdoors than in, mild October days were called "bluebird weather."

The eastern bluebirds' gentle, quizzical notes were familiar and their distinctive habits recognized. A bluebird family remains together this time of year when most other bird species disperse. They favor field or open habitat, and typically perch on branches at field edge when they feed.

Something Wild: Goldfinches, The Late Nesters

Sep 12, 2014
jjjj56cp via flickr Creative Commons

The bird world quiets down by late summer - but not the American goldfinch, one of the most common backyard birds. September brings the chatter of young goldfinches as they follow their male parent. They beg noisily, perched with head thrown back and trembling wings.

Most songbirds switch their diet to high-protein insects when feeding their young, and they nest earlier when insects are most bountiful. For example, chickadees that keep bird-feeders busy in winter disappear in summer as they forage for insects not birdseed.

Larry Lamsa via flickr Creative Commons

The autumn shorebird migration starts early. The first signs of autumn are now found moving southward along beaches and in salt marshes or high above New Hampshire's 13 miles of Atlantic coast. 

Karla Salathe

You need no special excuse to seek cool water on a hot summer day. Water lilies provide a perfect mid-summer setting to explore the specialized role of aquatic plants in NH ponds and wetlands. Paddlers and shoreline hikers alike admire scented, floating flowers of water lilies blooming in July. Fragrant yellow and white blossoms seem lotus-like amid a raft of floating lily pads atop shallow freshwater ponds.

dailyinvention via Flickr Creative Commons

Underwear, television and delusion. No, not a David Sedaris essay. These are some of the topics we are exploring on today’s Word of Mouth. Join us for an interview with psychiatrist Joe Gold about increasing prevalence of “Truman Show Delusions,” wherein people believe their life to be an elaborate reality show. Then, we talk to NY Times TV critic, Neil Gezlinger, about why television might not be the brain melting fluff we have been taught to think. Plus, producer Taylor Quimby makes a startling confession about his undergarments. Also, birds are in our trees, on the beach and constantly in sight during the summer months, so we bring you two stories featuring these graceful creatures. 

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


A Salute To Bobolinks & Henry David Thoreau

Jul 11, 2014
Kelly Colgan Azar via flickr Creative Commons

A tumbling jumble of bird song from across the field announces the presence of bobolinks. In his journals, Henry David Thoreau quoted a Cape Cod child who asked:

"What makes he sing so sweet, Mother? Do he eat flowers?"

NH Audubon

Those of you who keep a close eye on the Peregrine Falcon cam in Manchester, will be well acquainted with the saga these birds have undergone this year. If you're not, NH Audubon's Chris Martin has a quick recap and explains the latest developments, as he bands this year's chick.

7.02.14: Amateur Sleuths, A Pet Owl and Oculus Rift

Jul 2, 2014
user ZaCky via Flickr Creative Commons

The National Institute of Justice estimates that up to 40,000 unidentified human remains have been collected and stored in evidence rooms across the country. Today, we talk to Deborah Halber about the growing number of internet sleuths trying to solve America’s coldest cases. Then, we look into the growing digital house key market. Plus, a heartwarming tale of a man and his owl. 

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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