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.

Learning the Birds episode
8:03 pm
Sun July 29, 2012

Towhees

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.

Learning the Birds episode
8:01 pm
Sun July 22, 2012

BluePop

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.

Learning the Birds episode
8:00 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

Shovelers

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.   

Learning the Birds episode
8:02 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Western Bluebirds

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.

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue June 26, 2012

Kingfishers

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

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue June 19, 2012

Anting

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.

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue June 12, 2012

Tanagers

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.

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue June 5, 2012

Bitterns

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.

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Horned Larks

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.

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Roadrunners

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

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Upland Sandpipers

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

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue May 8, 2012

Graveyard Hummingbird

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

Learning the Birds episode
6:30 am
Tue May 1, 2012

White-crowned Sparrows

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.