Learning the Birds

This feature is no longer broadcast but an extensive archive is available for listening below

Ruth Beasley shares what she's learned about the science, lore and literature of birds of the High Plains, adding hand-crafted soundscapes meant to help listeners learn and remember the songs and calls of featured birds.
Contact Ruth Beasley about the program.

Towhees

Jul 29, 2012

Towhees are solitary ground-dwellers often described as a small-scale American Robin. Eastern and Spotted Towhees can both be found in the High Plains, kicking up a racket in the leaves.

BluePop

Jul 22, 2012

A Cardinal is one type of Grosbeak – a Blue Grosbeak is another. We learn to identify this deep-blue High Plains bird with brick-red bars on its shoulders.

Shovelers

Jul 15, 2012

Is the Looney Tune character Daffy Duck based in reality?  The overall physical characteristics of black feathers, orange webbed feet, and white ring are not found in one species in nature, but his shovel shaped bill is.   That prominent feature, which contributes to his unique speech pattern, builds the case for Daffy being classified as a Northern Shoveler.   

Western Bluebirds

Jul 1, 2012

The High Plains is a haven for many a mixed flock of Bluebirds. We learn how to identify one member, the Western Bluebird, and consider what sets this particular blue bird apart.

Kingfishers

Jun 26, 2012

Big-headed blue-and-white Kingfishers rule a watery kingdom, diving headfirst into the water after prey and digging elaborate burrows for raising young.

Anting

Jun 19, 2012

Anting is a bizarre inter-species ritual of birds and ants that results in a beneficial dose of formic acid for the birds. We explore why 200 different kinds of birds worldwide have been caught in the act of anting.

Tanagers

Jun 12, 2012

Tanagers are brilliant tropical birds that spend their lives in the treetops, gracing the summer air with lyrical song. We investigate the several tanagers found in the High Plains.

Bitterns

Jun 5, 2012

Those who hanker after certain birds may find themselves hunkering down in a marshy soggy bottom for the chance to see or hear the remarkable American Bittern.

Horned Larks

May 29, 2012

Horned Larks are perhaps one of the most exquisite yet least appreciated prairie birds. Learn to recognize a song “like jingling coins in a pocket” that’s sung by these native larks in flight.

Roadrunners

May 22, 2012

Roadrunners ­ both funnier and more interesting than their own cartoons ­ have mad skills like killing rattlesnakes and running 20 miles per hour.

Upland Sandpipers

May 15, 2012

Discover the native shorebird most likely to be found nesting at your local airport: the Upland Sandpiper, with its loon-like wolf-whistle call.

Graveyard Hummingbird

May 8, 2012

A hummingbird in a graveyard leads Ruth down a dark and morbid path until she learns some encouraging facts about hummingbirds.

We meet a sparrow that wears a racing helmet and was once known as the farmer’s friend, the lively and melodious White-crowned Sparrow.