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Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited

Some birds are born with the ability to sing. Others learn to sing while they're young — just like humans, who must learn to speak.

It turns out that vocal learning in songbirds and humans may have more in common than anyone suspected. Recent DNA research reveals that songbirds and humans share a set of roughly 50 genes that appear crucial to vocal learning.

And it's possible that because scientists now understand the genetic similarities between speech and birdsong learning, they can use that insight to study human speech acquisition in new ways.  

BirdNote: An Avian Big Bang

Mar 2, 2015
Johnx1 - FreakingNews.com

Many scientists believe that the demise of the dinosaurs began when an asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago. Some dinosaurs survived, and among them were the early ancestors of birds.

Recently an international research team sequenced the genomes of 45 birds of diverse lineages. The results revealed a surprising discovery: the common ancestor of today’s birds — among them warblers, parrots, woodpeckers, falcons, and owls — was a top-of-the-food-chain carnivore!

This "bird," however, is a flight of fancy, courtesy of FreakingNews.com.  

A federal court will hear oral arguments Monday in Seattle, in a case that pits the United States against the State of Washington. It has to do with who gets to take how much fish.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez has set aside 3 weeks in his calendar to hear issues involved.

Three tribes are mentioned in the current litigation: the Makah, the Quileute and the Quinault Indian Nations. They’re fighting with each other.

Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

She may be an accomplished public speaker, but Bellevue teacher Kristin Leong says she's still "secretly super introverted." Getting comfortable with public performance, she tells her students, is about "faking it 'til you make it."

But Leong says she starts every year in her middle school humanities classes at the International School in Bellevue with the same promise to her students: 'all of them will be performers this year.'

Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

Editor's note: Andrea Soroko teaches English at Seattle's Garfield High School. This post has been adapted from a story she told during a recent Seattle Times storytelling event, "Why I Teach." The Seattle Times' Education Lab project put on the event in partnership with KPLU and the UW College of Education. The names of the students Soroko mentions have been changed.

I have a student named "Johnny."

"Johnny" does well in school. "Johnny" completes his homework on time. "Johnny" is a good football player. My student, "Johnny," has a dream. It's a dream many of us share — the American Dream. He dreams of a family, a house, a car. The world is his oyster and Johnny is not afraid to dream big.

Worker rights advocates say it’s great that Washington is considering raising the minimum wage and that several cities have already passed higher wage and paid sick leave laws.

But they say it’s important to make sure such measures are enforced. That’s why a union local is teaming up with the University of Washington School of Law.

Jim Levitt

There's lots of current music to listen to and talk about on Jazz Northwest this week.   Ingrid Jensen and Steve Treseler head an all-star Quintet at The Royal Room where they'll record a show for NPR, Dee Daniels is Artistic Director at the DeMiero Jazz Festival in Edmonds next week, Thomas Marriott has a great new video and there's much more.  

Greg Lavaty

The small, nondescript Pied-billed Grebe has an astonishing talent. The grebe is the master of its own buoyancy.

It can squeeze out both the air trapped in its feathers and in its internal air-sacs and sink effortlessly. Learn more about the amazing, sinking Pied-billed Grebe at Cornell's AllAboutBirds. 

How To Make A Mini Zine

Feb 28, 2015

In this week's episode of Sound Effect, KPLU's Arwen Nicks spoke with poet Amanda Laughtland about her poetry zines and small press, Teeny Tiny. 

Watch Arwen demonstrate how to create a mini zine out of a single sheet of paper.

"Sound Effect" is a weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place where we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer.

Each week's show will explore a different theme. In this week's show, we illuminate the mighty power of small things.

Here are the three most underreported stories of the week, according to the guests of our news roundtable:

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

When you start talking with David Kirtley, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel like you’re in a comic strip.  

Kirtley is the CEO of Redmond-based Helion Energy, and his business plan sounds like fantasy. He says the potential for solving all of our energy problems is contained in what looks like just a drop of water.

Tom Grey

Tall and prehistoric-looking, the Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. Great Blue Herons are often seen flying high overhead with slow wing-beats.

When foraging, they stand silently along riverbanks, on lake shores, or in wet meadows. Quickly then, they stab at their prey.

Although usually found in or near water, Great Blue Herons nest high in trees, with several nests in a colony. Learn more about this bird at Cornell's AllAboutBirds.  

Joe Wolf / Flickr

This spring, juniors at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School will not sit for a federally-required standardized test, a leadership team of staff, students and parents at the school decided this week.

The staff's refusal to administer Smarter Balanced Assessments to eleventh-graders would make Nathan Hale the latest Seattle school to thumb its nose at a standardized test and would fly in the face of the nation's tough school accountability law, the No Child Left Behind Act.

Tim Durkan

If rainy weather makes you blue, don’t worry. The sun will come out on Saturday, and the weekend will bring us back to the pattern of sunshine. 

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass sounded a bit surprised to see rain coming down on Friday, amid one of the sunniest winters we’ve experienced in a long time.

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