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February 11 2014


Tweet of the Day: The Grey Heron

Chris Packham presents the grey heron. Winter can be a challenging time for grey herons. In freezing conditions, their favoured food supplies of fish and amphibians are locked beneath the ice and prolonged spells of cold weather can be fatal for these birds. Written by Brett Westwood. Produced by Sarah Pitt.

February 08 2014


Birds and people - Saturday Extra - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Environmentalist and author Mark Cocker argues that humans have a lot to thank birds for. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/birds-and-people/5028304
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December 26 2013


John James Audubon And 'The Birds Of America.'

This Program Is Rebroadcast From November 6, 2012.

Into the woods. How John James Audubon hunted, pinned, and painted his masterpiece, “The Birds of America.”

Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), Study for Havell pl. no. 26, ca. 1825, John James Audubon. (New-York Historical Society)

Carolina Parakeet (Conuropsis carolinensis), Study for Havell pl. no. 26, ca. 1825, John James Audubon. (New-York Historical Society)

Everybody knows Audubon and his birds.  The big, dramatic paintings and prints of the birds of America.  Early America, when a man could look out a stagecoach window, or off a steamboat, and see birds to boggle the mind.

When a buckskinned painter could, as Audubon did, just shoot them – easy as pie – and bring them home to pin up on the wall and paint.  John James Audubon and his birds became American icons.

But his story is a wild one.  Born in Haiti.  Raised in France.  Broke in America until he found his calling, late.  And then, by some, reviled.

This hour, On Point:  Audubon.

-Tom Ashbrook


Roberta Olson, curator of drawings at the New-York Historical Society. (Current exhibition.) Author of “Audubon’s Aviary: the Original Watercolors for The Birds of America.” Professor emeritus of art history at Wheaton College.

William Souder, author of the Pulitzer-Prize-nominated book, “Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds Of America.” (@wasouder1)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wired “One little-appreciated aspect of Audubon’s work is his technical virtuosity, said Olson. ‘He’d stain, wet the pastels, put the watercolor on top of it, then outline every vein and barbule of a feather,’ she said. ‘For the Carolina parakeets, you get the idea of these birds calling out to you and flying in your face. When you turn the watercolor, they sparkle. They are alive.’”

The New York Times “If John James Audubon had been less avian in his ambitions, he might have made a career as a portrait painter, which is how, on occasion, he supported himself while longing to paint birds and ‘go in pursuit of those beautiful and happy creatures.’”


Excerpt: “Under A Wild Sky” by William Souder

In the fall of 1813, while traveling in Kentucky, Audubon encountered an immense flock of Passenger Pigeons:

“Mounting his horse and moving on, Audubon found the pigeon numbers increasing as he went. Although it was midday, the sky darkened. Audubon said it reminded him of an eclipse. Pigeon droppings fell like snow, and Audubon felt himself lulled into something like a trance as he listened to the rush of wings overhead….By the end of the day, Audubon reached Louisville. The pigeons were still flying, their ranks undiminished. Near the river the pigeons descended— not alighting but merely flying low over the broad Ohio. Audubon found the riverbanks at Louisville ‘crowded with men and boys incessantly shooting.’ The whole population was ‘all in arms,’ Audubon said, destroying pigeons by the ‘multitudes.’ When he went to bed that night, the pigeons were still flying, the roaring columns of the great flock spanning the sky. The next morning, the were still passing overhead. So it went for three consecutive days, with no pause as the birds streamed past. Nobody in Louisville could talk of anything else. Everyone ate pigeon meat all day. The air smelled of pigeons.”

August 15 2012


The Natural History of Sussex: Episode Seven: Bank Holiday Seaside Special

In this episode we grab our bucket and spade and head to Rye Harbour where we meet Barry Yates and Chris Bentley who take us on a tour of this fantastic nature reserve. We find Mediterranean Gulls, Little Terns, Sea Pea, Pale Grass Eggar, Bombadier Beetle and fall in love with a spider. Find out more about Rye Harbour at www.wildrye.info and check www.rxwildlife.org.uk for the latest sightings.

The Natural History of Sussex: Episode Six: "The owls are not what they seem"

You want your wildlife? We got your wildlife. With spring in the air we talk incoming March migrants and emerging butterflies and go hiking on the South Downs in search of long-eared owls with guests Penny & Dave Green. Graeme brings his new friend to the podcast, Mat finds his own red kite, Michael rants about twitchers and we do our first (and last) film review.

The Natural History of Sussex: Episode Four: A Smew Hope

Graeme, Mat and Michael take to the road and compete in the Sussex Ornithological Society's annual New Year Bird Race in the wilds of West Sussex. Get ready for some crazy almond-fuelled action as the boys put their eyes to the skies and the pedal to the metal.

September 16 2011


Wild birds talking! - ABC WA - Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Naturalist Martyn Robinson, has discovered that pet birds who have escaped into the bush have 'taught' their wild companions to speak. The words that the the once domesticated pets learned from humans can now be heard from the beaks of their wild cousins.
Tags: birds language

February 15 2011


Seth Lloyd on Quantum Life

Big Ideas presents Seth Lloyd of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology on Quantum Life, how organisms have evolved to make use of quantum effects. Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcXSpXyZVuY
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