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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 30, 2005

Birds Are The Subject Of Oct. 13 'Live From Prairie Lights' Broadcast

The Oct. 13 edition of "Live from Prairie Lights" on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will be one for the birds. Ornithologist Donald E. Kroodsma, author of "The Singing Life of Birds," will be joined by Bill Thompson III, editor of "Iowa Bird Watching" at 7 p.m. in a broadcast of a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

The broadcast will be hosted by Julie Englander, who is not only a WSUI on-air personality, but also a birder. Listen on the Internet at

Kroodsma, also the author of "Ecology and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Birds," puts the reader inside the mind of a research scientist to explore how and why birds sing and how we can better understand birds through their song. Kroodsma's book and accompanying CD have proved one of the highlights of the year for birders.

Professor Bernd Heinrich wrote for Scientific American, "Just as the colors and patterns of the feathers that birds wear show tremendous variation, so, too, do the songs that they broadcast -- but much more so. Songs may be absent, or they may range from a few simple genetically encoded notes endlessly repeated, to virtuosos of variety resulting from copying and learning, and even to seemingly endless improvisation.

"In 'The Singing Life of Birds,' Donald E. Kroodsma, an emeritus professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, celebrates the diversity through carefully chosen examples, one for each of the 30 years that he has studied birdsong. The book is best described by its subtitle, 'The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong.' Kroodsma shares his secrets -- solid, practical advice on how to record bird sounds and how to 'see' the sounds in sonagrams, visual representations of the recordings of songs."

Thompson's book is based on his popular "Bird Watcher's Digest" column. He has edited a series of volumes that focus on birding in different states. He is also the author of "An Identification Guide to Common Backyard Birds" and "Bird Watching for Dummies," and he has a bird watching life list of more than 1,000 bird species worldwide.

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