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Jason Ward

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Jason Ward has been an avid birdwatcher since he was a kid growing up in the Bronx, where he spotted a peregrine falcon eating a pigeon on a ledge outside his bedroom window. In the first season of Topic's new series, the avian advocate and father of two travels around the Northeast, from Cape May, New Jersey, to Maine, delighting audiences with his contagious curiosity about the natural world—and the creatures within it.
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Migration isn’t for the faint of heart. In Cape May, New Jersey, Jason witnesses songbirds battling howling winds, meets a team of migration researchers who outfit birds with high-tech GPS trackers, and gets up close and personal with the highly secretive yellow-billed cuckoo.
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In this premiere episode, Bronx native and bird-lover Jason Ward visits Central Park—“the best place in North America to see migrating birds”—where he joins thousands of warblers and compares the unique sound of a rose-breasted grosbeak to the squeak of rubber soles on a basketball court.
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So. Many. Birds. Jason throws himself into the joyful mayhem of New Jersey Audubon’s Fall Festival at the Cape May Bird Observatory, where he meets birding legend Pete Dunne and a married couple who moved into a van to become full-time, mobile birders.
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Jason delivers a beginner’s course in using a birder’s most important tool.
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Jason’s younger brother, Jeffrey, is also a birder, and when they head to Central Park together, their competitive instincts get triggered. In the midst of spotting turkey vultures and cedar waxwings, the duo discuss their “spark” birds and compare notes on what it’s really like to bird while black.
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Jason visits New York’s AMNH, where collections manager Paul Sweet gives him a special, behind-the-scenes look at one of the largest avian assortments in the world, which includes specimens of the extinct passenger pigeon, as well as parrots, owls, and Jason’s favorites, peregrine falcons.
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Jason and his brother Jeffrey wrap up their trip to Maine with a glimpse of a bird that’s almost never been spotted in the United States: the great black hawk, a native of Central and South America.
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Birds are big in Harlem. Jason checks out the Audubon Mural Project, which has blanketed the northern Manhattan neighborhood with 314 large-scale paintings of birds under threat from climate change and human industry. Plus: a visit with avian artist George Boorujy in his studio.
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Is the Central Park Mandarin duck the Trump of birds? Should you share your owl sightings, or keep them to yourself? Jason and Nicholas Lund, aka The Birdist, debate some of birding’s most contentious topics—including, of course, cats that live outdoors.
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Every spring, scores of migrating warblers and other songbirds descend on northwest Ohio—followed closely by their biggest fans: serious birders. While visiting Magee Marsh, Jason meets power couple Kimberly and Kenn Kaufman and finds out what brought them to birds, and to each other.
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Birders aren’t the only folks with expensive lenses and their heads angled upwards. In this very special episode, Jason heads to California to meet another group of flight obsessives: the plane spotters and aviation photographers of LAX.
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He’s from the East Coast. They’re from the West Coast. In this episode, Jason teams up with two Audubon colleagues from the LA area for an excursion outside the city and frank conversations about their experiences of birding while brown.
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Jason meets up with celebrated novelist and passionate birder Jonathan Franzen in Chicago, where they spot one of North America's rarest songbirds and discuss how Franzen’s impressive personal bird count (around 4,600 species!) influenced his views on climate change.
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What do house sparrows and predatory NYC real estate developers have in common? In this episode, acclaimed actress and Brooklyn resident Lili Taylor and Jason talk birding, acting and defense of one’s home turf.
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Jason meets the keen-eyed members of the Ohio Young Birders Club—one of the first youth birding groups in the country—and finds out what it’s like to be a teenage bird nerd.
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Jason takes a visit to the Wild Bird Fund, an organization that works to rehabilitate thousands of injured birds every year, where he meets a Common Loon, an American Kestrel and accompanies a WBF staffer on a trip to release a group of pigeons back into the wilds of New York City.
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It had to be a peregrine falcon. In this episode, Jason visits a tattoo shop in Forest Park, Georgia, for his first experience getting inked. As he goes under the needle for a beautiful rendering of his favorite bird, Jason opens up about one of most difficult periods of his life.
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Jason and Jeffrey spend the day identifying birds in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge with New York’s burgeoning Feminist Bird Club, which embraces diversity in birds and humans.
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Jason shows comedian Wyatt Cenac (aka Wyatt Cenac, The Daily Show) the basic birding ropes in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, where Wyatt asks the important questions, like: do birds go “people-ing”?
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Dr. Drew Lanham is a poet and a professor of wildlife ecology who writes and speaks about his love for the outdoors, and about being a birder of color. In this episode, Drew and Jason discuss how people with different experiences can “find common cause in a bird,” as they observe mute swans and yellow-rumped warblers.
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“You’re just a dude standing by a bush, making weird mouth noises.” Jason and Jeffrey join The Birdist blog’s Nicholas Lund and writer and cartoonist Rosemary Mosco for a Christmas bird count in Maine, where they spot great blue herons, American tree sparrows, and large men with firearms.
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