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 Jun 23, 2019
I so look forward to listening to this podcast every day. It's a great way to greet the morning!

 May 14, 2019

 Sep 1, 2018
My apologies for not writing this review sooner. You produce one of my favorite podcasts. Great for birders and general audience as well. Thanks!


Escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in the natural world. Rich in imagery, sound, and information, BirdNote inspires you to notice the world around you. Join us for daily two-minute stories about birds, the environment, and more.

Episode Date
Birdwatching 104 - A Summary
How do birdwatchers identify one species from another? First, they look carefully at the bird. What's the overall color? Is its bill long or short, thin or stout? What about its markings -- a ring around its eye or stripe on its head? What's your bird doing?
Jul 11, 2020
Birds That Say Their Own Names
Some birds, such as the Northern Bobwhite, take their names from their songs or vocalizations: "Bobwhite! Bobwhite!" The Killdeer is another bird named for its song: "Kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee." There are others. "Poorwill, poorwill, poorwill" calls this Common Poorwill.
Jul 10, 2020
Kentucky Warbler
Kentucky Warblers nest in forested regions in much of the East, preferring woodlands with a dense understory, often near streams or other wetlands. These birds can use our help. As their forest habitat shrinks, it’s easier for Brown-headed Cowbirds to find and parasitize the warblers’ nests.
Jul 09, 2020
Grosbeaks and Monarchs
Black-headed Grosbeaks are one of very few birds that regularly eat Monarch butterflies. Most birds and other animals find the butterflies unpalatable, if not downright toxic. The caterpillars of Monarchs consume milkweeds that contain toxic substances known as cardenolides.
Jul 08, 2020
Sounds of the Boreal Forest
The boreal forest is a vast band of spruce and poplar, extending from coast to coast across Alaska and Canada. Called North America's "songbird bread-basket," for a brief time, it teems with song.
Jul 07, 2020
White-throated Swifts
A pair of White-throated Swifts twists and turns, sailing through the air. Dashing headlong across the canyon toward an unyielding wall, the birds disappear at the last second into a slender crevice. This swift is aptly named — and doubly so.
Jul 06, 2020
Are Birds Nests Reused?
Let’s talk about nests. Every spring, robins build their cup-shaped nests using grass and mud. Orioles weave a hanging sack. It’s hard work, and yet once the chicks fledge, the structures probably won’t be reused.
Jul 05, 2020
National Symbol - Turkey vs. Eagle
As an old tale goes, after the eagle was chosen for national emblem, Benjamin Franklin questioned the choice.
Jul 04, 2020
The Painted Bunting
Every spring and summer, birders go in search of the superbly colorful birds that come back to the temperate US from tropical regions — including the Painted Bunting.
Jul 03, 2020
Rufous Hummingbirds in Summer
In July, the female Rufous Hummingbird has fledged her first two nestlings and is just about to fledge another. The chick is now as big as its mother, making the walls of the walnut-sized nest bulge outwards at maximum capacity.
Jul 02, 2020
What Do Desert Birds Drink?
In the desert Southwest, water can be scarce. Yet some birds, like this Black-throated Sparrow, thrive in a scorching landscape. The birds obtain moisture from foods like nectar and fruit, as well as insects and other prey.
Jul 01, 2020
Migration and Fat
If long migratory flights are amazing, what goes on inside a bird’s body during those flights seems absolutely astonishing. To store fat, birds may eat three times as much and forage over many more hours than normal, as they prepare for long-distance travel.
Jun 30, 2020
Crow Parents, Fearless Defenders
Although the American Crow may seem blasé about pillaging another bird's nest, it regards a threat to its own young as a punishable offense.
Jun 29, 2020
Olive-Sided Flycatcher - Preserving a Unique Voice
These days we're hearing the song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher less often. Clear-cutting and fire suppression in forests, along with acid rain, has reduced its available habitat. Pesticides affect the supply of food. American Bird Conservancy has named it a priority species for conservation.
Jun 28, 2020
Thick-billed Euphonia - Deceitful Mimic
Northern Mockingbirds can learn to mimic the sounds of just about any bird. They mimic to show off, not to deceive.
Jun 27, 2020
Band-tail, Pigeon of the Woods
Band-tailed Pigeons are found mostly in low-altitude forests. Though about the size of city pigeons, they can be shy and sometimes hard to see. Strictly a bird of the western states, the Band-tailed Pigeon is decreasing in numbers.
Jun 26, 2020
Mysterious Disappearance of Evening Grosbeaks
In 1987, when Project FeederWatch began, Evening Grosbeaks were among the most common birds at birdfeeders during the Northeast winter. Now they're completely absent in many of those same areas. In the West, too, they're showing up in reduced numbers.
Jun 25, 2020
American Golden-Plover Lays Claim to the Tundra
A male American Golden-Plover proclaims its nesting territory with an aerial display known as the "butterfly flight." After flying up 50 feet, the plover switches to slow motion, raising its wings languidly until the wingtips nearly touch over its body, then lowering them gradually until they alm
Jun 24, 2020
What's Behind Those Lustrous Red Feathers?
Male Northern Cardinals, Scarlet Tanagers, and House Finches all have striking red plumage that’s thought to play a role in attracting mates. Males with the brightest red feathering tend to have the best luck with the females.
Jun 23, 2020
White-headed Woodpecker
The White-headed Woodpecker is widely scattered and nowhere common in the Pacific Northwest. Like other woodpeckers, the White-headed Woodpecker digs out juicy insect larvae from the trees by pounding with its sharp bill.
Jun 22, 2020
Common Potoo with Nancy Rumbel
The Common Potoo is a nocturnal bird of Central and South America, known for its camouflage plumage and upright perching. Nancy Rumbel, who composed the theme music for BirdNote, improvises here with the call of the Common Potoo.
Jun 21, 2020
Summer Solstice - Dawn Songs
On the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, birds across the North American continent greet the dawn — from the Florida Keys and the marshes of Chesapeake Bay, from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, home of this Audubon's Oriole, and the great plains of North Dakota, to the mountains of Ne
Jun 20, 2020
Hermit Thrush: Ethereal Singer
High in the mountains of the West and North, where the long summer days stay cool, the song of the Hermit Thrush stands out.
Jun 19, 2020
Two Meadowlarks and a Poem
In his poem “Trying to Fall Asleep in South Dakota,” poet Tom Gannon wrote about meadowlarks. He might have been hearing a Western Meadowlark, which nests across South Dakota in the summer. But if he’d been in the south-central part of the state, it might have been an Eastern Meadowlark.
Jun 18, 2020
How Much Birds Sing
A typical songbird belts out its song between 1,000 and 2,500 times per day. Even though most bird songs last only a few seconds, that's a lot of warbling! A Yellowhammer, a European bunting, may sing over 3,000 times a day.
Jun 17, 2020
A few times each year, the Eastern Paradise-Whydah puts on its party clothes. This small finch is found in East Africa, and males and females generally share the same nondescript appearance.
Jun 16, 2020
Do Woodpeckers Harpoon Their Prey?
Because many woodpeckers have pointed tongues, it was once assumed that they “harpoon” their prey. But what they actually do is more complex. Like a safe-cracker in a movie, birds like this Hairy Woodpecker use a killer combination of sensitivity and force.
Jun 15, 2020
Instrumental Bird Sounds
Birds communicate with a fascinating array of instrumental sounds, and nearly all are made with their feathers or bills. The territorial drumming of a woodpecker - like this Black-backed Woodpecker - is one example. American Crows clatter their beaks to make rattling sounds.
Jun 14, 2020
Voices and Vocabularies - Great Horned Owls
Great Horned Owls have a lot to say! When a pair of Great Horned Owls calls in a duet, the female usually hoots first, and the male replies at a lower pitch.
Jun 13, 2020
Helpers at the Nest
Brown Jays, like this juvenile, make nesting a family affair. The entire flock takes care of a single nest, which holds four eggs laid by one female in the flock. Each bird brings food to the young.
Jun 12, 2020
Tallgrass Prairie
Tallgrass prairie, a sea of grass, once stretched from Manitoba to Texas, a landscape of almost unimaginable natural abundance. Heading west, Lewis and Clark came upon savannahs as far as the eye could see, covered with herds of bison, elk, pronghorn, and deer.
Jun 11, 2020
The Song of the Woodlark
Woodlarks are birds of the rolling heathlands and forest glades of southern England, as well as other parts of Europe. Like most kinds of larks, Woodlarks are all but impossible to spot on the ground.
Jun 10, 2020
Tony Angell, on a Feeding Frenzy of Gulls
Naturalist, sculptor, and illustrator Tony Angell writes: "It was early summer and I looked across the open sea. Its surface gently heaved, suggesting the presence of some great being stirring within. ...
Jun 09, 2020
Loons Go Fishing
You're fishing on a northern lake, when a black-and-white shape torpedoes under your boat. Alerted by the sound of your reel, a Common Loon follows the trout in hot pursuit. If the fish is small, the loon may take it right off the end of your line.
Jun 08, 2020
Scarlet Tanagers Under the Canopy
In summer, the forests of the eastern United States are home to a bounty of birds, including this gorgeous Scarlet Tanager, which spends most of the year in tropical South America. The male’s body is a dazzling red, in contrast to his black wings and tail.
Jun 07, 2020
Tiniest Bird on the Continent
The tiniest bird in continental North America: the Calliope Hummingbird - a 3-1/4-inch jewel, weighing in at just a tenth of an ounce. These birds migrate north each spring from Western Mexico. From its perch, a male Calliope Hummingbird surveys its territory.
Jun 06, 2020
Kipukas and Akis
One of Hawaii’s rarest forest birds is this ‘Akiapola’au. Some of the roughly 1,000 'Akis left on earth live and breed in kipukas on the lower slopes of Mauna Loa, Hawaii’s largest active volcano.
Jun 05, 2020
Wood Ducks Succeed
Your eye may be drawn to the gorgeous male Wood Duck, but it is the call of the modestly plumaged female you’ll hear. This call tells the male where his mate is, important as the pair stays together through much of the winter and spring.
Jun 04, 2020
Precision Flight in Flocks: How Does It Work?
A flock of shorebirds flying wingtip to wingtip seems to act like a single organism, rolling and twisting in exquisite patterns. Flocks like these use a combination of two organizational patterns. One is a “cluster”: lots of birds flying together in a loose, three-dimensional cloud.
Jun 03, 2020
Kakapo Boom Through the Night
Kakapos are large, flightless parrots unique to New Zealand. Hoping to attract females, several males gather in a “lek.” They sing at the same time, and the deep-pitched notes carry a long distance. Females may wander in from as much as a mile away.
Jun 02, 2020
Tree Swallows and Feathers
Tree Swallows glisten in the June sunlight, as they swoop and glide, their arcs interlacing in the air. When a white feather flutters down among them, one swallow snatches the feather in its bill and flies upward, as another gives chase.
Jun 01, 2020
Mark Twain and Tropicbirds
When Mark Twain visited Hawaii in 1866, he was able to inspect a live volcano, Halema’uma’u, which he described as “a crimson cauldron.” Twain concluded his impressions of the hellish scene by writing, “The smell of sulfur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner.” That eruption came to an end i
May 31, 2020
Designing a Spider Web to Evade Bird Collision
One of the lesser known hazards of a bird’s life — when flitting from shrub to shrub — is collision with spiders’ webs. And when a bird flies through a web, it’s the spider’s hard work that takes the hit.
May 30, 2020
Do Crows Sing?
It’s been said that if someone knows only three birds, one of them will be the crow. They’re common, easy to see, and even easier to hear. But crow voices are complicated. Altogether, crows may use 30 sound elements in different combinations, and one of the most intriguing is their song.
May 29, 2020
Sibelius and the Swans
In April 1915, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote in his diary about seeing 16 Whooper Swans overhead. He was entranced by both the sight and the sound of the swans. He watched them depart — “like a gleaming silver ribbon,” — and declared the image one of the great experiences of his life.
May 28, 2020
Powder Down
Hidden below the outer breast feathers of herons, pigeons, doves, tinamous, bustards and some parrots are patches of special down feathers. These feathers are never molted, and they grow continuously. The tips break down into a dust the consistency of talcum powder.
May 27, 2020
Bird Poop and Fish Eggs
Scientists have long suspected that bird poop may play a role in the dispersal of fish species to new bodies of water.
May 26, 2020
Boboslinks and Grasslands
Male Bobolinks are first to arrive on their breeding grounds in the grasslands. Why are there fewer Bobolinks than in decades past? Probably because the landscape of North America has changed so much. Bobolinks originally nested on native prairies of the Midwest and southern Canada.
May 25, 2020
Salmonberry Bird
The native names of birds sometimes distill the essence of their appearance or behavior. In the Cherokee language, for instance, the Meadowlark is called "star," because of the way the bird's tail spreads out when it soars.
May 24, 2020
Rufous Hummingbirds' Marvelous Nest
The nest-building skills of the female Rufous Hummingbird are amazing. She first weaves a cup of soft, fluffy plant material, then envelops it with moss and binds it with strands of spider web. The final touch: a layer of lichen flakes to provide perfect camouflage.
May 23, 2020
The Diminutive Downy Woodpecker
As part of their spring courtship, Downy Woodpeckers perform a spectacular "butterfly flight." The birds seem to dance in the air, holding their wings high, and flapping slowly and lazily like butterflies.
May 22, 2020
Preening 101
If a bird’s feathers get too dried out, they become brittle. To prevent that from happening, most birds have a gland located above the base of the tail that produces oil. They use their beaks to massage oil from the gland into their feathers to keep them supple.
May 21, 2020
Larkspurs: Flowers and Birds
Open a flower guide, and you may find larkspur, owl’s clover, parrot’s beak, wake-robin, peacock plant, and storksbill. And there’s chickweed, hawkweed, ragged robin, cuckoo flower, and hens-and-chicks. At least one flower packs in two bird names: the dove’s-foot cranesbill.
May 20, 2020
Lazuli Bunting
With its beautiful colors, the Lazuli Bunting might just have inspired Navajo artists. In summer, these beautiful singers inhabit the brushy canyons of Western mountains. And where the Lazuli Bunting sings, you'll often hear the music of Vesper Sparrows and Western Meadowlarks.
May 19, 2020
Do Alligators Protect Herons?
Raccoons sometimes invade nesting colonies of herons, spoonbills, and other wading birds to eat their eggs and chicks. But some of these birds have found ways to deter the masked bandits.
May 18, 2020
Spring Serenade in the Ozarks, With Steve Hilty
The Buffalo National River in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas was the first "national river" in the US. The river, part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, runs undammed for 135 miles. Its forest habitat is a great place for birds and other wildlife.
May 17, 2020
Galápagos Archipelago - Melville's Encantadas
Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, described the Galápagos, a group of volcanic islands in the Pacific, as: "an archipelago of aridities, without inhabitant, history, or hope of either in all time to come." Charles Darwin also found the Galá
May 16, 2020
Why Act on Behalf of Other Species?
With so many pressing human needs in the world, for food, water, and places to live, why should we act on behalf of the wellbeing of other animals? For George Archibald of the International Crane Foundation, it’s a matter of ethics.
May 15, 2020
Peacocks in India
Peacocks have been domesticated for thousands of years and now occur everywhere in the world. But to see wild peacocks, you'll need to go to India and Sri Lanka. Where hunted, peacocks are shy and rarely seen, and give loud alarm calls when startled.
May 14, 2020
Decoy - Shrike Trickery
Northern Shrikes are unapologetically cool, with their black masks, elegant gray plumage, and predatory lifestyle. But these little raptors, although technically songbirds, sometimes sound less than appealing.
May 13, 2020
Dippers on the Elwha
In 2014, the dams on the Elwha River in Washington State were removed. As the river ran free again, salmon from the Pacific were able to spawn upstream for the first time in 100 years, dramatically improving conditions for American Dippers.
May 12, 2020
Beaks and Grosbeaks
Beaks suited for opening tough, hard seeds—thick, conical beaks—evolved in more than one lineage of birds. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are related to cardinals, which also have powerful beaks.
May 11, 2020
Mother Birds
Happy Mother's Day, from the whole BirdNote team!
May 10, 2020
Gulls or "Seagulls"?
Gulls seem so much a part of the sea that we often just call them "seagulls," a colloquial title for these graceful, ubiquitous creatures. Twenty-two species breed in North America. The Pacific coast is home to the aptly named Western Gulls.
May 09, 2020
Great Horned Owl III
This Great Horned Owlet - about 2-1/2 months old and already as big as its parents - is quite well feathered, although its underparts remain downy. Its wing and tail feathers are developing nicely, and it has begun to make short flights.
May 08, 2020
Beavers and Meadows
Viva Las Vegas -- When explorer Antonio Armijo came upon the place in 1829, he found bubbling springs, abundant beavers, and grassy beaver meadows. No casinos. Armijo named the site Las Vegas – Spanish for “the meadows.” Beavers do much to shape the natural landscape.
May 07, 2020
Common Eiders Favor Close Relatives
Some species of birds try to save energy by tricking others into incubating their eggs. But if the parasitic female is a related species, she may have an advantage.
May 06, 2020
Robins and Earthworms: The Backstory
When glaciers pushed south into what is now the U.S. around 20,000 years ago, they scraped off the soil layer and spelled the end of native earthworms except in the southern states.
May 05, 2020
Boreal Birds Need Half
The boreal forest of North America provides breeding habitat for billions of birds, such as this Semipalmated Plover. But the forest is under pressure. Many boreal birds are declining  — while development and resource extraction are intensifying. Fortunately, there’s an upside.
May 04, 2020
Skylark - With Aretha Franklin
Imagine: Singing for three minutes while soaring to 100 feet in the air, like the Skylark. None of the native birds of North America has such a long song or sings so persistently in flight.
May 03, 2020
The Perfect Nestbox
Many native cavity-nesters - including this Black-capped Chickadee - will nest in a manmade birdhouse, or nestbox. Look for a nestbox that's plain wood. If the birdhouse comes with a perch, remove it. It just makes it easier for a predator bird to land and go after the eggs or young.
May 02, 2020
Which Bird Has the Most Feathers
In general, the bigger the bird, the higher the number of feathers. Someone counted the feathers on a Tundra Swan and came up with 25,216. At least 80% were on the swan’s neck. Penguins, on the other hand, have lots of small feathers all over their bodies.
May 01, 2020
Double-Crested Cormorant
Sitting on a piling, wings outstretched, the Double-crested Cormorant looks like a black Celtic cross. Cormorants dive from the water's surface, pursuing prey under water, propelled by powerful webbed feet.
Apr 30, 2020
People Improving the Lives of Birds
Over the years, BirdNote has paid tribute to people who improve the lives of birds. We find inspiration in the efforts of stewards such as Jim Brown, who’s preserving important habitat for birds such as this Lewis's Woodpecker, along the Clark Fork River in Montana.
Apr 29, 2020
Osprey Stance
When humans ride a skateboard or snowboard or surf a wave, most prefer the same foot forward every time. A new study finds that Ospreys, too, often exhibit a favorite foot forward in flight. Today's show brought to you by the Bobolink Foundation.
Apr 28, 2020
Marbled Godwits
It's April, and godwits are on their way north. They have wintered along the coasts, including the Texas Gulf Coast, and along the Pacific from California to Washington. While most breed in the prairie provinces of Canada, some nest as far north as Alaska's Aleutian Islands.
Apr 27, 2020
John James Audubon Birthday
April 26th is the birthday of John James Audubon - flamboyant, groundbreaking artist, dedicated observer, adventurer, and writer. John James Audubon grew up in France, but moved to Philadelphia at 18.
Apr 26, 2020
A Natural Feast for Hummingbirds
Hoping to attract hummingbirds to your yard or balcony? One way is to grow native plants. Native plants provide cover, and they offer nectar in spring and summer. They also attract insects, the most important part of a hummingbird’s diet.
Apr 25, 2020
Bird Songs of April
The month of April inspires poets, sometimes with contradictory results. Poet TS Eliot describes April as "the cruelest month." Shakespeare strikes an upbeat note, writing "April hath put a spirit of youth in everything." Let April speak for itself. Listen to the birds.
Apr 24, 2020
Rusty Blackbirds - A Rusty Recovery
It’s basic black with an inelegant voice. It nests in places we rarely visit. And in relative obscurity, the Rusty Blackbird has suffered one of the most dramatic population declines ever recorded among our songbirds.
Apr 23, 2020
Earth Day
Northern Bobwhite ... Evening Grosbeaks ... Boreal Chickadees ... Common Terns ... and Northern Pintails, like this one ... the populations of all are in decline, mostly due to habitat loss.
Apr 22, 2020
Emily K. Michael - Trading Threes
Because she’s blind, Emily K. Michael experiences birds through their songs and calls. As a birder and poet, she describes hearing three Northern Cardinals singing to each other, as she walked her dog.
Apr 21, 2020
Voices and Vocabularies - Cardinals' Duet
Among most North American songbirds, it’s males alone who sing. But during the nesting season, we also hear female cardinals. Just when she sings and whether or not she matches his song may determine when the male brings food to the nest. 
Apr 20, 2020
Kingdom of Rarities - Featuring Eric Dinerstein
Why are some creatures rare and others common? What forces – natural and manmade – cause rarity? Eric Dinerstein travels far and wide for answers. He wonders how different the world could be with a few changes: “. . .
Apr 19, 2020
The Ten Commandments of Subirdia
In his book Welcome To Subirdia, bird expert John Marzluff offers a guide for living in close proximity to birds and other wildlife.
Apr 18, 2020
Backyard Bird Science
One of the best studies of a North American bird ever written was published by a citizen-scientist named Margaret Morse Nice. Margaret Nice banded more than 800 Song Sparrows in a 40-acre tract in Ohio. Most of us have neither the time nor the 40 acres, but there is still much we can do.
Apr 17, 2020
Stefania Gomez - Swifts
Each September, thousands of Vaux's Swifts roost in the chimney of Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, a stopover on their southern migration. Crowds gather every night to watch the spectacle.
Apr 16, 2020
A Giant Parrot of New Zealand
New Zealand was once home to a massive parrot that stood three feet tall, about hip-high to most adult humans. It’s estimated that the bird weighed around fifteen pounds, and it probably didn’t fly.
Apr 15, 2020
American Woodcock
At sunset, the male American Woodcock - a plump, robin-sized bird - walks slowly on short legs from the cover of the forest to a nearby clearing. After a few sharp calls, the woodcock takes flight. As it spirals upward, slim, stiff feathers at its wingtips create a curious twittering.
Apr 14, 2020
Thomas Jefferson's Mockingbirds
Mockingbirds, masters of mimicry, are prone to ramble on and on. Sometimes they even sing at night. Thomas Jefferson kept Northern Mockingbirds in his office and sleeping quarters, while president in the early 1800s.
Apr 13, 2020
The Lark Ascending
In “The Lark Ascending,” composer Ralph Vaughan Williams conjures up a bucolic vision of pastoral England. Small fields, hedgerows, an early summer’s morning. And the display flight of a Eurasian Skylark: Alauda arvensis.
Apr 12, 2020
Spring Rain Refreshes a Desert
Springtime in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southeastern California. Cacti and wildflowers glisten with raindrops, and birds begin to sing. A House Finch, a Bewick's Wren, a Cactus Wren, a Mourning Dove, and this Costa's Hummingbird all add their sounds.
Apr 11, 2020
Spider Silk - Duct Tape for Bird Nests
The spider’s web is an intricate piece of precision engineering. Made from large proteins, it’s sticky, stretchy, and tough. So it’s no surprise that many small birds — including this Anna’s Hummingbird — make a point of collecting strands of spider silk to use in nest construction.
Apr 10, 2020
A Wide World of Crows
Crows are found on every continent except South America and Antarctica. And while there are a lot of similarities, there are a lot of differences, too. Imagine a powder-gray crow with a pink beak. There’s one thing they have in common, though: they’re all smart.
Apr 09, 2020
Seabirds Drink Salt Water
Seabirds have no problem drinking sea water. The salt they take in is absorbed and moves through their blood stream into a pair of salt glands above their eyes. The densely salty fluid is excreted from the nostrils and runs down grooves in the bill.
Apr 08, 2020
A Cardinal That's Half Male, Half Female
In Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, people have reported seeing Northern Cardinals that are red on one side and brown on the other, indicating that a bird is half male and half female. This anomaly occurs in other species of birds, as well, not just cardinals. Insects, too!
Apr 07, 2020
Hummingbird Migration Myths
Does a hummingbird migrate by hitching a ride on the back of a goose? Not exactly.
Apr 06, 2020
Sage Thrasher and Sagebrush
The glorious song of the male Sage Thrasher rings out every spring from tracts of sagebrush throughout the West. Sagebrush was once widespread in the Great Basin region, and so were the thrashers.
Apr 05, 2020
Walk Down an Arroyo
Arroyo means "stream" in Spanish. With mesquite, yucca, and cactus along their edges, arroyos in the Southwest fill with water only a few times a year, mostly during the heavy rains of late summer. There's a remarkable diversity of wildlife here, including this Pyrrhuloxia.
Apr 04, 2020
You Could Take a Pigeon to the Movies
A movie runs at 24 frames per second, just right for humans to sense as normal speed. Pigeons process the visual world several times faster. The frantic car chase that puts us at the edge of our seats would likely appear—to a pigeon—more like a slideshow or PowerPoint.
Apr 03, 2020
House Sparrow - Introduction
The House Sparrow was first introduced into the US from England in the 1850s and has spread across the country. The name "House Sparrow" fits it well, because – from Bangor, Maine to San Diego, and Alaska to the Panama Canal – it's found nearly everywhere people live. 
Apr 02, 2020
Eoornis - A Bird of the Gobi Desert
The critically endangered Eoörnis of the Gobi Desert was first described in scientific literature in the late 1920s. This bird is known informally as the Woofen-poof — because of the sound it makes when it takes off from the desert sand.
Apr 01, 2020
Winter Wren in a Carolina Cathedral, With Gordon Hempton
Gordon Hempton, the Sound Tracker, records the sounds of nature in pristine places. Mesmerized by a Winter Wren singing in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest of the Carolinas, Gordon chased the bird up and down a mountain before capturing its song at close range.
Mar 31, 2020
The Beauty of Webbed Feet
Webbed feet are ideal for birds that swim, on the water’s surface or under. In fact, they’re such a nifty adaptation that they evolved, independently, in several bird groups. Ducks and geese, gulls, cormorants, loons, pelicans, penguins, puffins and boobies all have webbed feet.
Mar 30, 2020
Music Inspired by Chicks Hatching - Mussorgsky and Ravel
Inspired by a talented friend's painting called "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks," Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky wrote a piano piece as part of his famous work Pictures at an Exhibition. The composition was later orchestrated by Maurice Ravel.
Mar 29, 2020
Thirsty Rufous Hummingbird
Hummingbirds need to consume five times their body weight each day. This Rufous Hummingbird of the West is looking for flowering plants to quench that mighty thirst on its spring migration. A feeder would work, too. Put a hummingbird feeder up in your yard, and see who turns up!
Mar 28, 2020
Great Tinamou, Eerie Voice in the Jungle
The eerie sound of the Great Tinamou can be heard in the lowland jungle throughout much of Central and South America. Secretive — and almost impossible to see — Great Tinamous call early and late in the day. And their voices carry a long distance.
Mar 27, 2020
Red-winged Blackbird Harem
As spring begins, the male Red-winged Blackbird brandishes his red epaulets to warn other males away from his patch of cattails. At the same time, he sings to lure females into his marsh...many females, in fact. One male may attract up to a dozen females.
Mar 26, 2020
Dawn Song - Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson: "The Birds begun at Four o'clock..." As the first rays of sunlight fill the trees on a spring morning, a symphony of birdsong erupts. As early morning light extinguishes the stars, male birds begin to belt out their songs. One of the magical gifts of spring is the dawn song.
Mar 25, 2020
Syrinx and the Satyr
Birdsong owes its beauty and variety to a complex structure called the syrinx. The name comes from an ancient Greek story. Syrinx was a beautiful wood nymph, and she was trying to escape the advances of the satyr Pan. Just as Pan caught her, Syrinx was transformed into reeds.
Mar 24, 2020
Elf Owl
By late February or March, Elf Owls depart Mexico to breed in the US. These miniscule owls weigh less than an ounce and a half — a bit less than a golf ball. During the breeding season, Elf Owls live in woodlands and desert cactus habitats from southwest Texas into southern Arizona.
Mar 23, 2020
Spring, The Sky Rippled with Geese - With Maria Schneider
Birds provide a lot of inspiration for composer Maria Schneider, whose album titled Winter Morning Walks won three Grammy awards in 2014. One song from that album, “Spring, The Sky Rippled With Geese,” features Ted Kooser’s poem of the same title.
Mar 22, 2020
Drumming with Woodpeckers - West
Early spring in the West resounds with the percussive hammering of woodpeckers. Their rhythmic drumming functions as other birds' songs do, to broadcast over a long distance a clear statement of territory and mating rights.
Mar 21, 2020
Bearded Vultures Return Home to Europe
With its enormous size and black tuft of a beard, the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture, has a stark appearance. These distinctive birds erroneously acquired a reputation for killing livestock and stealing babies, which led to relentless persecution and eventual disappearance from much of Europe.
Mar 20, 2020
Vernal Equinox
Today marks the Vernal Equinox. And birds are singing in the new season. Listen to the sounds of the Greater Prairie-Chicken, Limpkin, Vesper Sparrow, Black Scoter, Horned Lark, Sandhill Crane, Western Meadowlark, Black Oystercatcher, and Western Screech-Owl.
Mar 19, 2020
New Zealand's Kakapo
The Kakapo of New Zealand is a kind of parrot, but one that doesn’t fly. At five pounds, it’s the world’s heaviest parrot. And like many parrots, it’s long-lived -- up to 90 years. Still, the species is highly endangered.
Mar 18, 2020
Green Birds on St. Patrick's Day
You'd think that with so much green in nature, many birds would be a'wearin' the green for camouflage. Not just on St. Patrick's Day, but every day. Yet very few of our birds cavort in Irish green.
Mar 17, 2020
Secretive Varied Thrush
Except in winter, when it gathers in loose flocks to move to lower elevations, this shy bird prefers solitude. The intricate pattern of color on its wings resembles dappled sunlight on the forest floor. Naturalist Louis Agassiz Fuertes called the song of the Varied Thrush, "...
Mar 16, 2020
Hummingbird Feeder Homebrew
The familiar components of a hummingbird feeder include a bottle, sugar water, and something red to attract the birds. (But not the water, please! Food coloring can be harmful to hummers.
Mar 15, 2020
Lark Sparrow
The Lark Sparrow is large, gorgeous, and unmistakable. Because of its beauty, a Lark Sparrow was chosen for the cover of Sparrows and Buntings: A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World.
Mar 14, 2020
Voices and Vocabularies - The Basics
Birds’ voices invite us to step into nature and learn more about the singers. Hearing what’s distinctive in one bird’s voice — compared to another — helps us identify our avian neighbors without seeing them. Amazing!
Mar 13, 2020
Those Raucous Jays
A raucous call and a bold flash of blue at your feeder means a jay has arrived. East of the Rockies, your visitor is quite likely a Blue Jay (left). Out west, you're probably seeing a Steller's Jay. These daring blue dandies sound the alarm, announcing the approach of a predator.
Mar 12, 2020
Birds and Glass - Making Homes Safer
Forty-four percent of bird/window collisions happen with low-rise and residential buildings. Birds just don't understand glass and fly into windows at incredible speed. Biologist Matt Shumar has some easy ways to make your home safer for birds. First, reduce lighting, which attracts birds.
Mar 11, 2020
European Starling Nightmare
You can find European Starlings in huge flocks from coast to coast, and from Northern Canada deep into Mexico. Yet not one of these iridescent-black, yellow-billed starlings is native to the Americas. One hundred starlings were released in Central Park in New York City in 1890.
Mar 10, 2020
Birds and Glass - Ovenbird Release
During the migration season, many birds are injured when they collide with glass skyscrapers in New York City. Those that survive may end up at the Wild Bird Fund, the city’s only wildlife rehab center. Good news!
Mar 09, 2020
Tune Up Your Ears - West
By March in the West, Song Sparrows and other songbirds that don't migrate are already singing heartily to attract mates. Many other birds - including this Warbling Vireo - will return north from the tropics in April and May, announcing themselves in song as soon as they arrive in nesting areas.
Mar 08, 2020
Turkey Vultures on the Move
Before we see or feel spring, we often hear it first — in the testimony of a Red-winged Blackbird, the energy of a Song Sparrow, or the serenade of an American Robin. But across much of North America, an earlier sign of spring is the return of Turkey Vultures.
Mar 07, 2020
Wetland Birds Thrive
While nearly a third of North American bird species are in decline, many birds that depend on wetlands are thriving. Duck breeding populations in 2009 were an estimated 25% above historical averages.
Mar 06, 2020
Birds and Glass - At the Wild Bird Fund
Rita McMahon started New York City’s only wild bird rehab center in 2005. Today, the Wild Bird Fund has grown to see more than 7,000 birds each year. What’s the biggest problem during migration season? Collisions with glass. And New York City has a lot of glass.
Mar 05, 2020
Snatching Berries on the Wing
When American Robins gather to pluck berries, you can expect to see a lot of fluttering. The robins are heavy, making it a lot harder to perch and creep along a thin stem. And they have long, strong legs because they spend so much time walking and hopping on the ground in search of food.
Mar 04, 2020
Birds and Glass - Community Science
Birds do not understand glass. They see the reflection of open sky or trees and fly into windows at incredible speeds. These collisions, in both cities and residential areas, may claim the lives of as many as one billion birds in the US each year. But there's hope!
Mar 03, 2020
Amazing Pied-billed Grebe
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.
Mar 02, 2020
Why Birds Sing
Why do birds sing? Ornithologists have learned that the longer hours of light that come with spring trigger the release of hormones in birds. These hormones prompt the enlargement of the birds' gonads which, in turn, stimulate male birds to sing.
Mar 01, 2020
Leaping with Sandhill Cranes
With a graceful leap, wings outstretched, Sandhill Cranes welcome the longer days. The stately cranes are courting, renewing an annual dance they perform in earnest as the days lengthen into spring.
Feb 29, 2020
American Kestrel
The American Kestrel is the smallest, most numerous, and most widespread North American falcon. This bird is built for speed, its long pointed wings often bent back at the tip. While hunting, kestrels hover above an open field.
Feb 28, 2020
Flocking and Foraging
In winter, a foraging flock might include several species of birds: chickadees, kinglets, and even a Downy Woodpecker. Many bird species eat alone, so you might wonder why these birds have chosen to dine together. Different species foraging in a group to find food enhances the success of all.
Feb 27, 2020
Jacana - Lily-trotter
The strange wading birds known as jacanas are nick-named "lily-trotters" for their ability to walk on lilypads. In Jamaica, they're known as "Jesus birds," because they appear to be walking on water — a feat made possible by their long toes. But that's not all that's cool about jacanas.
Feb 26, 2020
Kirtland’s Warbler - A Conservation Success
State and federal efforts, combined with the work of community volunteers, have brought the Kirtland’s Warbler back from the brink of extinction in the 1970s. Today, about 2300 pairs nest in the northern Midwest and into Ontario. It was taken off the Endangered Species List in 2019.
Feb 25, 2020
Why the Black Skimmer Skims
That’s not a distant dog barking. It’s a Black Skimmer in flight, at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. This striking, black-and-white bird with a red bill and red feet has a most unusual way of feeding. It flies low along the surface of the water with its beak open.
Feb 24, 2020
Crow Funeral - with Tony Angell
Tony Angell, along with Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington, wrote the book, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans.
Feb 23, 2020
How Birds' Names Change
Have you ever heard of a marsh hawk or a sparrow hawk? These long-familiar bird names have passed into history. The study of birds, like any science, remains a work in progress.
Feb 22, 2020
Pigeons Love Cities - But We Loved Them First
Though some might see them as winged rats in today’s cities, pigeons have a long-standing bond with people -- especially in our urban environment. From Mesopotamia, 7000 years ago, to the urban skyscrapers of today, pigeons have been a constant.
Feb 21, 2020
Nest Cavities - Book Early
Swallows and bluebirds — like this Western Bluebird — are among the earliest northbound migrants to arrive, heralding spring a month before the equinox. Both species will nest only in cavities, such as old woodpecker holes or man-made nestboxes.
Feb 20, 2020
Cranes' Voices Across the Globe
There are fifteen species of cranes across the globe, found everywhere but Antarctica and South America. During the winter, cranes forage and rest together by the thousands. Listen in to the voices of cranes from all over the world.
Feb 19, 2020
Mockingbirds Are Southerners
It wasn’t until the 19th century that Northern Mockingbirds began nesting in the Northeastern states. In the 20th century, the birds expanded their range into Ohio and the upper Midwest. Much of California saw the arrival of mockingbirds in the 20th century, too.
Feb 18, 2020
Regal Great Blue Heron
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.
Feb 17, 2020
The Crane Wife
Throughout history, the Japanese have viewed the crane as a symbol of good fortune. Because cranes mate for life, they also represent fidelity and honor. Visit, to learn more about the International Crane Foundation and the fight to save the Japanese Red-crowned Crane.
Feb 16, 2020
Northern Saw-whet Owls - Common but Unknown
Northern Saw-whet Owls reveal we have much to learn about the world of birds. Author and naturalist Scott Weidensaul shares his insight: “Here’s a species that up until the early to mid-1990s was considered to be rare in most of its range . . .
Feb 15, 2020
Annual Great Backyard Bird Count
The annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 14-17, 2020, is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Birdwatchers across the country count birds and then report the numbers on-line.
Feb 14, 2020
Conserving Canada's Boreal Forests
The vast Canadian boreal forest provides breeding habitat for almost half of North America's migratory ducks, geese, and songbirds - including this Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Feb 13, 2020
Charles Darwin and the White Tern
On a stop at the Cocos Islands near Sumatra, the naturalist Charles Darwin described his first encounter with a special little bird.
Feb 12, 2020
When Does a Crossbill's Bill Cross?
A young crossbill starts life with a wedge-shaped beak. As it grows up and starts to feed itself by removing conifer seeds from their tough packaging, the tips of its bill begin to grow rapidly — and then they cross.
Feb 11, 2020
Common Poorwills Can "Hibernate"
Common Poorwills don’t sing much when the mercury drops. But they can do something else that is remarkable. As the winter cold deepens, these petite members of the nightjar family can enter a hibernation-like state — and stay like that for hours — or even weeks!
Feb 10, 2020
Left Foot or Right? Handedness in Birds
A parrot’s eyes are located on the sides of its head. So, if it wants to look at something — say, a delicious piece of fruit — it has to cock its head one way or the other do it. And if it looks with its left eye, then uses its left foot. Scientists call this handedness.
Feb 09, 2020
Riding with Red-tails
Traveling home after a flight into Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, you might share a ride on the shuttle with a Red-tailed Hawk! To protect passengers, planes, and birds, airport biologists Steve Osmek and Bud Anderson capture raptors for relocation away from the airport.
Feb 08, 2020
Who, or What, Was Mother Goose?
Mother Goose was sometimes illustrated as an old country woman wearing a tall hat and riding on the back of a goose. Or sometimes as just a big, motherly goose wearing reading glasses and a bonnet, a friendly figure children could trust.
Feb 07, 2020
Ecuador's Nature Reserves
Ecuador is home to 1,600 species of birds — twice the number in all of North America. Artist and naturalist Paul Greenfield, a long-time resident of Ecuador, has helped create conservation reserves, large and small. He feels that smaller reserves may have the best chance for long-term success.
Feb 06, 2020
Great Blue Heron Meets T. Rex
The Great Blue Heron is tall and slender with a bill like a sword and the graceful, measured moves of a dancer. And it’s mostly quiet. But when this bird does make noise, it can be downright scary.
Feb 05, 2020
Habitat and the Tipping Point Part II
As our climate changes, restoring coastal wetlands will be increasingly important for the welfare of people and birds. As manager of the McKinney National Wildlife Refuge in Long Island Sound, Rick Potvin oversees coastal and island habitat for wildlife.
Feb 04, 2020
Franklin's Gull - The Half-time Seagull
Gulls are often called "seagulls," but many spend a lot of time far away from the sea. The Franklin's Gull breeds in freshwater wetlands more than 5,000 miles from its winter home at the ocean.
Feb 03, 2020
Storks and Babies
Storks and babies have been linked together for centuries. But how did that old legend get started? Researchers suggest that the legend goes back to pagan times, when civilizations were keen to have high birthrates.
Feb 02, 2020
Ecosystem Engineers on America's Serengeti
Some birds require habitats created by other animals. Two such landscape shapers were the American bison and the prairie dog. With the extermination of millions of bison and prairie dogs, species such as this Mountain Plover and the Burrowing Owl, which require barren ground, greatly declined.
Feb 01, 2020
Winter Brings Falcons
A Merlin — like this one — hunts boldly from a high perch. A Peregrine Falcon dives on a hapless pigeon, with an air speed approaching 200 miles per hour. The Gyrfalcon can fly down even the fastest waterfowl in a direct sprint. A Prairie Falcon blends in with its background.
Jan 31, 2020
Rhea Nesting Is Mind-boggling
A typical bird nest will have maybe four to six eggs neatly arranged by the parent to hunker down on. But in one Rhea nest, you may find between 50 and 80 eggs! And they’re not all from the same set of parents.
Jan 30, 2020
For most birds, wings are for flying. But for Rock Pigeons, they’re also for clapping. When the pigeons erupt into flight, some may slap their wings together above their bodies in a “wing clap.” A male Rock Pigeon will also do this when courting. Short-eared Owls have evolved wing-clapping, too.
Jan 29, 2020
Recording Cerulean Warblers with Charlotte Goedsche
Since 1998, Charlotte Goedsche has been studying the Cerulean Warblers that breed in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. And she has learned some fascinating things! For example, Charlotte can identify individual Cerulean Warbler males like this one, by listening to their songs.
Jan 28, 2020
Sounds of the Amazon
It's winter and time for a vacation. Let's head to the Amazon! With names like the Screaming Piha, the Blue-crowned Motmot, and the Black-necked Red-Cotinga, these are not your average birds. Insects are the background chorus for the Cuvier's Toucan and the Musician Wren.
Jan 27, 2020
Laysan Albatrosses Nest at Midway Atoll
Midway Atoll is the winter home of nearly a million nesting albatrosses. Laysan Albatrosses return to Midway in November to breed. Roughly 450,000 pairs wedge their way into a scant 2½ square miles of land surface. And why do Laysans nest in winter?
Jan 26, 2020
Canada Jays Save Food for Later
While camping in the mountains, you might see this Canada Jay (formerly known as the Gray Jay — but before that, as the Canada Jay!), boldly swooping into your camp. This handsome jay’s big, black eyes seem to miss nothing — especially food.
Jan 25, 2020
Burrowing Snowbirds
Light, fluffy snow can be up to 90% trapped air — just the thing to keep birds and other animals warm. Ptarmigan spend winter nights in cozy caves they excavate in snow. During truly harsh weather, they will hunker down in their caves through the short arctic day, too.
Jan 24, 2020
The Verdin’s Winter Roosts
For small songbirds, surviving a cold winter night can be challenging. Their bodies lose heat faster than those of larger birds. So little birds have found resourceful ways to stay warm — like huddling close together with other birds.
Jan 23, 2020
Nictitating Membranes - Nature's Goggles
For most birds, keen eyesight is critical for survival. But many birds lead lives that can be very hard on the eyes — like flying at breakneck speed, racing for cover into a dense thicket, or diving under water to capture prey.
Jan 22, 2020
Herons Go Fishing
Any fisherman will tell you that to catch a fish, you need the right bait, the perfect spot by the water’s edge, and patience. While they don’t use the traditional line-and-tackle, Striated Herons have mastered these fishing techniques.
Jan 21, 2020
The Peregrine Falcon Makes a Comeback
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which came out in 1962, linked the pesticide DDT to the decline of many birds, including songbirds. But Peregrine Falcons and other raptors had declined, too.
Jan 20, 2020
Gliding with Tropicbirds
With the strong, direct flight of a falcon, a tropicbird can catch a flying fish on the wing, or plunge like an arrow into the sea and — with its serrated bill — capture a squid.
Jan 19, 2020
A Brief History of Cars Named for Birds
Birds can be sleek, aerodynamic, and powerful — all in one package. Automakers picked up on this early: a cool bird name will sell cars. So far, more than twenty models of cars have been named for birds — some real, some mythical — and they go way back.
Jan 18, 2020
Reddish Egret - Lagoon Dancer
The Reddish Egret, a particularly glamorous heron, is best known for its startling antics in capturing fish. When fishing, the egret sprints across the lagoon, weaving left and right, simultaneously flicking its broad wings in and out, while stabbing into the water with its bill.
Jan 17, 2020
Patrick Comins, on Being a Conservationist
Patrick Comins, executive director of Audubon Connecticut, explains what being a conservationist means to him. "If you've ever seen a Scarlet Tanager you don't even have to describe how wonderful they are. It's this variety and diversity of birds that really got me interested.
Jan 16, 2020
The Oilbird's Lightless Life
Nature has produced some exceptionally strange animals. One such creature is the Oilbird of northern South America.
Jan 15, 2020
Rachel Carson, Environmental Champion
When Rachel Carson was preparing to publish Silent Spring, her most intimate friend Dorothy Freeman was worried that Carson would be persecuted. But Carson had done her homework -- and her research -- and she was ready for the battle to come.
Jan 14, 2020
Trogons Nest with Wasps
The "Violaceous" Trogon (recently split into three species), which nests in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America, often excavates its dwelling within a large, active wasp or termite nest.
Jan 13, 2020
Short-eared Owl
Flapping with deep, slow wing-motion, a Short-eared Owl appears almost to float above the ground. This owl has an extensive world range, including North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Still, it's declining, due to development, agriculture, and overgrazing.
Jan 12, 2020
Western Tanagers Are Flashes of Bright Color
Western Tanagers dart from tree to tree, on the lookout for delicious bugs. They’ll find them by scanning the tree bark — or maybe snatching them from mid-air during flight — a tactic called hawking.
Jan 11, 2020
Attu and Its Island-hopping Rock Ptarmigan
Attu, at the western end of Alaska’s Aleutian chain, is home to the Rock Ptarmigan. Although grouse are not long-distance fliers, Rock Ptarmigans can cross open water, so they occur from one end of the Aleutians to the other.
Jan 10, 2020
Great Horned Owls Nest
High in a leafless cottonwood, a female Great Horned Owl incubates two eggs. As light snow falls on her back, her mate roosts nearby. Since December, this pair has been hooting back and forth regularly at night.
Jan 09, 2020
The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken with the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre birds in South America. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head.
Jan 08, 2020
Rachel Carson and the Veery
Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, and her beloved friend Dorothy Freeman shared a love of nature … and especially of one particular bird: the Veery, a type of thrush. Plain looking as it is, the Veery has a particularly beautiful song.
Jan 07, 2020
Why Do Birds Come to Birdfeeders?
A tube of black oil sunflower seeds isn’t “natural”…and neither is a suet cake. Yet as soon as you hang them up, the neighborhood birds, like these female finches, find them. Those grosbeaks at your feeder probably never ate sunflower seeds in nature.
Jan 06, 2020
John Burroughs
John Burroughs was probably the most popular nature writer of the late 19th Century. Many consider Burroughs the founder of the modern nature essay. Yet Burroughs wrote not about nature on a grand scale, but about glimpses of nature close to home.
Jan 05, 2020
Winter Sounds of the Lower Rio Grande
In the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where the Rio Grande River borders Mexico, birds commonly found in Central America reach their northern-most range. Here you can find fascinating birds like this Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, a tiny flycatcher with a long name!
Jan 04, 2020
On a Cold, Cold Night
When the bitter cold of winter arrives, songbirds face an emergency: how to keep warm through the night. On normal nights, many prefer sleeping solo in a sheltered spot. But in severe cold, some kinds of birds may have a greater prospect of survival by roosting with others.
Jan 03, 2020
Cerulean Warblers Link Conservation on Two Continents
In winter, the Cerulean Warbler forages in tree-tops of the Andes Mountains. In May, at the other end of a 2,500-mile migration, the very same bird sings from the tree-tops in the Appalachian Mountains. The Cerulean Warbler is one of the most threatened birds in the US.
Jan 02, 2020
A New Year Dawns
Listen to the earth awaken, as dawn circles the globe. Acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton recorded these sounds around the globe. He's with SoundTracker.
Jan 01, 2020
Hitchcock's Movie, The Birds
In Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller, "The Birds," Bodega Bay, California, is inexplicably besieged by crazed birds. After the birds attack and kill several residents, the townspeople flee in terror.
Dec 31, 2019
Sandhill Cranes - Interview with Hank Lentfer
Hank Lentfer, author and lifelong Alaskan, helped establish a 4,000-acre refuge for Sandhill Cranes—the Gustavus Forelands Preserve. Today, some 20,000 Sandhill Cranes use the preserve to rest and refuel. Along the way, they've helped Hank make his own journey—one from despair to hope.
Dec 30, 2019
Rare Sounds Saved by Macaulay Library
The tranquil song of the Kaua'i O'o graced the high, dense forests of Kaua'i until 1987, when it was heard no more. The voice of only one member of this family of birds, now all extinct, remains immortalized on tape.
Dec 29, 2019
Crested Caracara
The Crested Caracara, one of North America's most charismatic birds of prey, is common in Texas, and an isolated population lives in Florida. They stride through the grass on long legs, as they hunt for small animals of all kinds.
Dec 28, 2019
Environmental Success at Long Beach - Patrick Comins
We're on Long Beach West on Long Island Sound, with Patrick Comins. Thousands of migratory shorebirds - including Dunlin like these - stop over here on their long migratory journeys. But this ecological gem could have been lost. Good news! Today it's part of the Stewart B.
Dec 27, 2019
Beaks and Bills
A bird’s bill is an incredible multi-tool — good for preening feathers, building a nest, self-defense, scratching, displaying, building a nest, and egg-turning.
Dec 26, 2019
Carol of the Birds - With Nancy Rumbel
To celebrate the season, Nancy Rumbel, who composed and played the BirdNote theme music, performs "Carol of the Birds." This version was arranged by Nancy herself, with the accompaniment of Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, a Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, House Finch, American Goldfinc
Dec 25, 2019
Winter on the Columbia
A stiff December breeze blowing down the Columbia River delivers an exhilarating chill. A stretch of river near Bridgeport, in north-central Washington, is held tightly by a series of dams, creating massive lakes - lakes which, in winter, harbor thousands of water-birds.
Dec 24, 2019
Earthworms - A Superfood in Cold Storage
This American Robin has caterpillars and an earthworm in its beak. But which food source is the real prize? Everyday earthworms are higher in protein than beef or chicken. You’d have to eat about a pound of soybeans to equal the protein in just three ounces of earthworms.
Dec 23, 2019
Geese Launching at Bosque del Apache
In winter, flocks of wintering Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, and Sandhill Cranes stop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Just before sunrise, the geese are a mass of kinetic and potential energy, like a symphony orchestra tuning up for a big performance.
Dec 22, 2019
Long-distance Champions of Migration - With Scott Weidensaul
Arctic Terns are the long-distance champions of migration. Thanks to satellite transmitters and geolocators, we know that some Arctic Terns travel more than 50,000 miles annually!
Dec 21, 2019
Carrier Pigeons Go to War
In World War I, carrier pigeons were crucial in relaying messages from the front to positions behind the lines. The most renowned was Cher Ami - or Dear Friend - flown by the US Army Signal Corps during the Battle of Verdun in France.
Dec 20, 2019
The Cardinal: A Southerner Moves North
Holiday cards often feature gorgeous red cardinals against a snowy landscape. So it’s easy to assume the birds have always been a colorful presence in bleak Northern winters. But cardinals used to be Southern birds.
Dec 19, 2019
William Turner and the First Bird Book
The first printed bird book, The Principal Birds of Aristotle and Pliny, was published in 1544.
Dec 18, 2019
Wilson's Warblers Benefit from Shade-grown Coffee
Early this fall, the tiny Wilson's Warbler began its long migration to Belize, where it winters. Navigating by the stars, the 1/4-ounce bird made a series of night flights spanning more than 2500 miles. This warbler returns to the same coffee plantation each year.
Dec 17, 2019
A Bird in the Hand
You’ve probably heard the old saying: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Well, it’s a very old saying, and it’s gone through some changes over the years. In each era, the pragmatic wisdom is clear: Hold on to the sure thing rather than taking a gamble on something better.
Dec 16, 2019
Margaret Morse Nice and the Song Sparrow
Few backyard birds in North America are more widespread than the Song Sparrow. But it was the study of this seemingly unremarkable bird that helped shape modern ornithology. In 1928, Margaret Morse Nice began carefully observing Song Sparrows near Columbus, Ohio, where she lived.
Dec 15, 2019
Rock Sandpipers Are Tough - Homer Spit Christmas Bird Count
It's winter on Homer Spit in southern Alaska, and Rock Sandpipers feed along the gravelly shore. These small shorebirds probe for food. Anything that moves is fair game, especially amphipods, the little crustaceans that hop about when exposed.
Dec 14, 2019
Why Some Birds Sing in the Winter
By late January, some resident birds, such as the Northern Mockingbird, are beginning their spring singing. When you step outside on a particularly sunny day this winter, a Fox Sparrow like the one pictured here may be warming up for the coming spring.
Dec 13, 2019
Wingspan - A Stealth Ecology Lesson
The board game Wingspan came out this year to a lot of buzz. The bird-themed game is fun — but it’s also having a surprising impact. It’s gotten nonbirders hooked on birds. And it’s also gotten birders hooked on board games. Meanwhile, everybody’s learning something!
Dec 12, 2019
The Majestic Gyrfalcon
Gyrfalcons are the largest falcons in the world, with a wingspan of almost four feet and weighing almost five pounds. The name “Gyrfalcon” derives from an Old Norse word for “spear.” During the summer, you’ll find Gyrfalcons on the tundra, where they feed on arctic birds.
Dec 11, 2019
Birds and Bird Conservation Matter - Interview with David Yarnold
We asked David Yarnold, President of National Audubon, why bird conservation matters. He says that preserving wild places and preserving the links in nature's chains allow wildlife to thrive.
Dec 10, 2019
The Pecking Order
Birds in flocks almost invariably develop a pecking order. An alpha chicken can peck any other in the flock, and a beta chicken can peck all others but the alpha bird. Juncos and other small birds have a pecking order, too.
Dec 09, 2019
American Bittern - Thunder-Pumper
American Bitterns nest in marshes across the northern half of the United States and throughout much of Canada, and they winter along both US coasts south into Central America. But in some places, bitterns are in serious trouble.
Dec 08, 2019
Why Birds Stand on One Leg
Birds' legs have an adaptation called "rete mirabile" that minimizes heat loss. The arteries that transport warm blood into the legs lie in contact with the veins that return colder blood to the bird's heart. The arteries warm the veins.
Dec 07, 2019
Are Northern Forest Owls Coming South This Winter?
The boreal forest stretches across Canada and Alaska, a huge expanse of woods, wetlands and wilderness. And it’s full of magnificent forest owls that depend on mice and other rodents for food.
Dec 06, 2019
Wingspan Takes Flight
The goal is to attract birds to your aviary by collecting things they like to eat. Your birds are worth points, and they score you more points when they lay eggs, gather food, or do other bird-y things.
Dec 05, 2019
Encounter with a Cassowary
In a tropical woodland in eastern Australia, you glimpse a Southern Cassowary, a huge flightless bird that must rate as the most prehistoric looking of all birds.
Dec 04, 2019
Pelicans Go Fishing
There are two kinds of pelicans in North America – the American White Pelican and the Brown Pelican. And they’ve evolved different tactics to catch their prey.
Dec 03, 2019
The Benefits of a Raven's Black Feathers
It turns out, a raven's black plumage works quite well in the desert. Black feathers do conduct the sun’s warming rays, but they concentrate that solar heat near the feathers’ surface.
Dec 02, 2019
Snow Geese: Too Much of a Good Thing
When small family farms gave way to large, industrial agricultural operations, the Snow Geese followed. Waste grain left over from harvests has allowed Snow Goose populations to jump. Now, there are so many Snow Geese they degrade their Arctic summer habitat, threatening other birds.
Dec 01, 2019
How Much Do Birds Eat?
There used to be a saying about somebody who doesn’t eat much — “she eats like a bird.” But how much does a bird typically eat? As a rule of thumb, the smaller the bird, the more food it needs relative to its weight. A Cooper’s Hawk, a medium-sized bird, eats around 12% of its weight per day.
Nov 30, 2019
Giblets and Gizzards
A bird’s stomach is divided into two parts. The first part is a lot like our stomach; it’s filled with digestive juices to break down food. But the second part — that’s the bird’s gizzard. It’s a strong, muscular pouch that breaks down hard foods like seeds and nuts.
Nov 29, 2019
The Wild Turkey - One Well-Traveled Bird
It’s likely that the Mayans of southern Mexico were the first to domesticate turkeys.
Nov 28, 2019
The Red-shouldered Hawk - One Gorgeous Bird of Prey
Sharp, insistent cries signal the presence of one of North America’s most beautiful birds of prey: the Red-shouldered Hawk.
Nov 27, 2019
A Blizzard of Snow Geese
An immense field appears to be covered with snow, blanketed in white. But a closer look reveals more than 10,000 Snow Geese. Snow Geese nest on Wrangel Island, in the Chukchi Sea off northern Siberia. Don't miss the amazing video by Barbara Galatti!
Nov 26, 2019
How Long Does a Robin Live?
If a young American Robin survives its first winter, its chances of survival go up. But robins still don’t live very long. The oldest robins in your yard might be about three years old (although thanks to banding, we know of one bird that lived to be almost 14).
Nov 25, 2019
Boreal Chickadees Stay Home for the Winter
Boreal Chickadees live in the boreal forest year-round. How do they survive the harsh winter? First, during summer, they cache a great deal of food, both insects and seeds. Then in fall, they put on fresh, heavier plumage.
Nov 24, 2019
Birds Winter at the Salton Sea
California's Salton Sea is hot and smelly - and it's also a Mecca for thousands of wintering birds. This inland sea formed when the Colorado River breached floodgates in 1905, forming a lake 45 miles long.
Nov 23, 2019
Convocations, Coveys and Charms
Everybody’s heard of a gaggle of geese and a covey of quail. But what’s a group of penguins called? And a “conspiracy” of ravens? Maybe the way we label birds says more about us than it does about them.
Nov 22, 2019
Winter Birds Love Suet
Birds at a suet feeder... What a burst of vitality on a chilly morning! What's the attraction? A cake of suet, suspended from a branch in a small wire feeder. Suet is beef fat, a high-energy food critical for birds' survival in the colder months.
Nov 21, 2019
City Owls
Some owls, like Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls, live in the city. As hunters, they find a lot to eat in the city — like rats or squirrels! Both favor urban parks, cemeteries, and botanical gardens — places with big trees — and both roost during the day.
Nov 20, 2019
Birds of Prey and Nesting Territories
Red-tailed Hawks typically have a nesting territory of about a half-mile to a full square mile, depending on how much food there is. Bald Eagles’ nesting territories range from 2½ square miles to as much as 15 square miles, for the same reason.
Nov 19, 2019
Amazing Feet
What looks like feet on a bird are actually its toes. That backward-looking knee is more like an ankle. A bird’s feet are suited to its unique way of living. Eagles capture live prey with long talons, while water birds use webbed feet to guide and propel themselves.
Nov 18, 2019
The Birds and Plants of Hawaii
Three-quarters of Hawaii's native flowering plants probably came from seeds that hitched rides with birds. Sticky or barbed seeds adhere to the feathers. Other seeds travel in mud caked on a bird's feet. And still others cross the ocean in the stomachs of birds.
Nov 17, 2019
The Eyes of an Owl
Peer into an owl's face – there is something almost human about its large, forward-facing eyes. The Great Gray Owl, which stands two feet tall and weighs 2 and 1/2 pounds, has eyes larger than those of most humans! Enormous eyes enable owls to see in near darkness.
Nov 16, 2019
Leave the Leaves
To help backyard birds through the winter, do less. Leave the leaves or rake them under plantings. The tasty insects and spiders underneath will be food for the towhee and this Song Sparrow. Don’t deadhead. Pine Siskins and goldfinches love to snack on dead flowerheads.
Nov 15, 2019
Project FeederWatch
Project FeederWatch, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon, is a window on the birds of winter. Through Project FeederWatch, scientists are able to track the movements of birds - including this Pine Siskin - and understand trends in population and distribution.
Nov 14, 2019
American Wigeon
The American Wigeon is a grazer. Its bill is narrow, with a pointed tip like that of a goose. When feeding on water plants, a wigeon grabs a leaf and rips it off with its strong bill, rather than using the straining apparatus typical of dabbling ducks.
Nov 13, 2019
The Eagle Eye
Ever heard the term “eagle eye”? An eagle’s vision is incredibly sharp, and its eyes can weigh more than its brain. The secret to the bird’s exceptional vision is the density of visual cells – the rods and cones – of its retina.
Nov 12, 2019
Get Involved
Go outside this weekend. Feel the wind in your hair. Listen to a bird. Discover a new park. Then get involved! Volunteer to lead your own bird walk. Help build a trail.
Nov 11, 2019
Goldeneyes and Whistling Wings
On a still winter afternoon, you may hear Common Goldeneyes flying low across the water. Whistlers, their wings sibilant, make the sound - as Ernest Hemingway wrote - of ripping silk. Common Goldeneyes nest in cavities, in northern boreal forests.
Nov 10, 2019
Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers
These Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers appear nearly identical, but the Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy, with a distinctly longer bill. And it doesn't have the black spots on its outer tail feathers like the Downy.
Nov 09, 2019
As the Crow Flies
Traveling "as the crow flies," eating "like a bird," and being "free as a bird" are just a few of the sayings we use to describe everyday human actions and feelings. But these often don't take into account the birds' real activities, relative to their size.
Nov 08, 2019
Anna's Hummingbird: Thriving in Our Shadow
The Anna’s Hummingbird has undergone a major range expansion since the 1930s. And that’s largely due to humans.
Nov 07, 2019
Return of the Snowbird
You may see Dark-eyed Juncos in the summer, but come fall, many more — those that have been nesting in the mountains or farther north — arrive to spend the winter. These juncos often visit birdfeeders for winter feasting. Dark-eyed Juncos forage on the ground.
Nov 06, 2019
The Haunting Voice of the Common Loon
The call of the Common Loon brings to mind a summer visit to northern lakes. A "yodel" call is given by a male on his breeding territory. With his neck outstretched, the male waves his head from side to side, sending his eerie calls across forests and open water.
Nov 05, 2019
The Butcherbird
The Northern Shrike breeds in the tundra and taiga of the north, but migrates south into the lower 48 for the winter. It has a pleasing and rhythmical song, which it sings even in winter. But its song belies a rather bloodthirsty feeding habit.
Nov 04, 2019
Common Redpoll
The tiny Common Redpoll, one of the smallest members of the finch family, weighs only as much as four pennies, yet it survives the cold and darkness of winter in the far North. Most birds depart in autumn to warmer climes.
Nov 03, 2019
Birds in the Winter Garden
Put your winter garden to work as a haven for birds. Leaves and brush left to compost provide foraging and roosting places, smother this year’s weeds, and feed next spring’s plant growth. Watch for juncos and towhees in the leaf litter, and wrens in the brush.
Nov 02, 2019
The Stealthy Shoebill
Deep in the dense, remote swamps of Central Africa lives the Shoebill, a massive, blue-gray stork-like bird, standing up to five feet tall. The bird takes its name from its large bill, which is shaped like an oversized Dutch wooden shoe.
Nov 01, 2019
Spooky Shearwaters
Some early sailors, visiting remote Pacific islands, surely feared that the ungodly wailing on shore meant they had been tricked to the gates of Hell itself. In truth, they stood among courting pairs of seabirds called Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.
Oct 31, 2019
Ring-necked Pheasants in the Wild
The Ring-necked Pheasant is likely the best-known bird in North America that isn’t native to the continent. Indigenous to Asia, Ring-necked Pheasants were introduced to Oregon in 1881.
Oct 30, 2019
Ptarmigan Toes
With its rubbery-sounding rattles and clownish red eyebrows, the ptarmigan is quite the stand-out northern bird. As winter approaches, the ptarmigan’s feet grow feathers, and its claws grow longer. All that added surface area means the ptarmigan practically has its own set of snowshoes.
Oct 29, 2019
What the Pacific Wren Hears
What does the Pacific Wren hear in a song? It's a long story. What we hear as a blur of sound, the bird hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a movie as a series of still pictures.
Oct 28, 2019
Clean Nestboxes in October
It’s a wistful moment when your backyard birds — like these Black-capped Chickadees — depart their nestboxes. By October, it’s time for one last duty as nestbox landlord: to clean it out.
Oct 27, 2019
Purple Martins Head South to the Amazon
The Purple Martin is the largest swallow that nests in the US and Canada. During fall, Purple Martins from western North America migrate to a distinct wintering area in southeastern Brazil — a travel distance of more than 5,000 miles!
Oct 26, 2019
Geese in V-formation
Autumn…and geese fly high overhead in V-formation. But what about that V-formation, angling outward through the sky? This phenomenon — a kind of synchronized, aerial tailgating — marks the flight of flocks of larger birds, like geese or pelicans.
Oct 25, 2019
A World of Parrots
Parrots have strong, hooked beaks that are great for cracking tough seeds. Their feet allow them to climb and to hold on to objects, like food. Parrots are known for their legendary intelligence and ability to talk. And they come in almost every color of the rainbow!
Oct 24, 2019
Swallows and Mud - A Myth?
The swallows that make mud nests in spring and catch flying insects all summer are now far south in Mexico, and Central and South America. It's only as recently as the end of the nineteenth century that ornithologists agreed that swallows, including this Cliff Swallow, migrate.
Oct 23, 2019
Pinyon Jay
Pinyon Jays take their name from pinyon pines. Extracting the seeds from cones, the jays fill their throats. Then they fly to a caching site, sometimes miles away, to push each seed into the leaf litter. Collectively, they cache millions of seeds, some of which sprout before they can be eaten.
Oct 22, 2019
Look Up - A Family of Falconers
For Mike Jackson, a firefighter in Washington, DC, falconry is a family affair. He learned the sport of training and hunting with birds of prey from his dad. Now, he’s a father himself, and he works with birds of prey as a way to connect with the natural world — and his kids.
Oct 21, 2019
The Great Missoula Floods
During the last ice age, part of the ice sheet covering what is now western Canada advanced far enough into Idaho to block a major waterway, now called the Clark Fork River. The ice dam backed up the river, creating a gigantic lake in (what is now) Montana.
Oct 20, 2019
Clark's Nutcracker - Nature's Arborist
High in the mountains, a Clark's Nutcracker buries a cache of whitebark pine seeds. This will be nearly its sole source of food until the next summer. But some of those cached seeds will germinate, spawning a small grove of pines.
Oct 19, 2019
Big She, Little He (in Raptors)
In many birds, plumage is often the easiest way to tell males from females. But in raptors, size is often the best indicator of sex. In many bird and mammal species, males are larger than females. But in birds of prey, including Ospreys, hawks, falcons and eagles, the rule is reversed.
Oct 18, 2019
Meet the Blue Jay
If we had to pick one bird’s voice to symbolize our Eastern woodlands, the Blue Jay’s voice would likely be it. And as a frequent visitor to back yards and bird feeders, the Blue Jay is among the most recognized birds of the region.
Oct 17, 2019
Shorebirds Aren't Always on the Shore
Shorebirds' lives take them to many places other than the shore. Most of the shorebirds we see along our coasts migrate to the Arctic in summer. Here, many nest on the tundra, some along rushing streams, and others on rocky mountainsides.
Oct 16, 2019
Who Likes Suet?
Chickadees and titmice, nuthatches and jays, and woodpeckers, like the Pileated pictured here, all love suet. As do birds whose beaks can’t open seeds, like tiny kinglets, and almost any wintering warbler.
Oct 15, 2019
Spark Bird: A Lifetime in Science
When he was just a kid, Gordon Orians kept notebooks about the birds he saw. And then he realized he could make discoveries – he could add to the body of knowledge and contribute to science.
Oct 14, 2019
The Moon of Falling Leaves
The Cree call the full moon in October "The Moon of Falling Leaves." It's almost time to stow the tools and put the garden to bed for the winter. When the trees lose their leaves, you can see the nests of summer. It's a good time to prune trees, because you won't disturb nesting birds.
Oct 13, 2019
Seagull Calling Contest
There are more than two dozen species of gulls living in North America. Some people might dismiss them as just “seagulls.” But not the people of Port Orchard, a small town on Washington State’s Puget Sound.
Oct 12, 2019
The Crows' Night Roost
Crow experts think big communal roosts provide warmth, protection from predators, shared knowledge about food sources, and a chance to find a mate. Follow crows to their roost some autumn evening, if you can, and watch these avian acrobats wheel in for the night.
Oct 11, 2019
Ulm Sparrows
As an old story from Germany goes, workers building the world’s tallest church were preparing to install an immensely long beam, but they couldn’t get it through the city gate.
Oct 10, 2019
Stowaway Cockatoo Takes a Cruise
A beautiful Rose-breasted Cockatoo named Harri took the adventure of a lifetime. She set off unseen on a cruise ship from Brisbane, Australia, and wasn’t discovered until the ship neared New Zealand.
Oct 09, 2019
Spark Bird: The First Robin of Spring
Rasheena Fountain studied environmental science and worked at her local Audubon Society. Now she writes about nature and diversity in the outdoors. And what got her interested in the first place? It all started in kindergarten, with a teacher named Miss Beak and the first robin of spring.
Oct 08, 2019
The World's Most Abundant Bird
An estimated 1.5 billion Red-billed Quelea live in Africa today, making them the most abundant of all wild birds. The sparrow-sized Red-billed Quelea flock together in groups so large, from a distance they appear to be clouds of smoke.
Oct 07, 2019
Woodpeckers Carve Out Roost Cavities, Too
In spring, we often hear woodpeckers hard at work, carving out nest holes in tree trunks. And now that fall has arrived, we may hear that excavating sound again. Some woodpecker species stay year round in the region where they nest, while others migrate south in winter.
Oct 06, 2019
Yosemite in Fall - With John Muir
It’s October in Yosemite. Acorn Woodpeckers, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Mountain Chickadees like this one know it’s time to stock the larder! For us, there’s still time to enjoy a hike before the harshness of winter.
Oct 05, 2019
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Herons feed primarily on fish, but they will consume everything from earthworms to clams to eggs of nesting birds and refuse at landfills!
Oct 04, 2019
Spark Bird: Birding from the Bus
Kelsen Caldwell drives a bus in and around Seattle for King County Metro. As a bus driver, sometimes there’s downtime if your bus is moving too fast. What do you do with all that extra time? If you’re Kelsen, you fall in love with birds.
Oct 03, 2019
Using the Merlin Bird ID App
The Merlin Bird ID smartphone app from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a free, easy way to help you identify new birds.
Oct 02, 2019
Starlings Say It With Flowers
European Starlings regularly adorn their twig nests with marigolds, elderberry flowers, yarrow leaves, and even willow bark — all of which are full of aromatic chemicals, which fumigate their nests and are thought to discourage pests and parasites.
Oct 01, 2019
Great Horned Owl Family in Autumn
Compared to many birds, Great Horned Owls remain with their parents a long time. They hatched in early March, from eggs laid in late January. By April, both parents were hunting through the night to feed their young. But for the last two weeks, the adults have not fed the young.
Sep 30, 2019
The Descent of Birdlore
How did Theodore Roosevelt develop his interest in birds? The chain of events may surprise you. As a budding birdwatcher, Roosevelt was influenced by John Bell, a New York City taxidermist.
Sep 29, 2019
Birding Trails
Coast to coast and border to border, Birding Trails offer great opportunities to find birds. On a summer trip in New England, along the Connecticut River between Vermont and New Hampshire, you can hear the vividly colored Blackburnian Warbler.
Sep 28, 2019
Red-necked Phalaropes, Spinners on the Sea
If you’re ever lucky enough to see a Red-necked Phalarope, keep an eye out for its delightful method of feeding. The birds twirl on the surface like little ballerinas, spinning and pecking, again and again.
Sep 27, 2019
Saving Chimneys for Vaux's Swifts
Vaux’s Swifts are perfectly adapted to lives spent in the air. They mate on the wing, and their feet and legs are so small they can’t even walk. But they can hang. So at dusk they collect along the inner walls of giant chimneys, at places like Chapman Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.
Sep 26, 2019
Acorn Woodpecker Granaries
The Acorn Woodpecker is found in parts of the western US. It chips small recesses out of trees to fit the acorns it will harvest throughout the fall. A family of Acorn Woodpeckers may use this storage tree, or granary, for generations. Some of them hold as many as 50,000 acorns.
Sep 25, 2019
House Sparrows Can Open Doors
House Sparrows are ingenious birds that have learned a highly specialized skill: how to open automatic doors. House Sparrows have been seen activating electric-eye sensors to fly into restaurants, supermarkets, and home supply stores. What will they be up to next?
Sep 24, 2019
Autumnal Equinox
Today marks the mid-point between June's longest day and December's shortest day. We may hardly notice, but ancient cultures closely watched the changes in the sun's daily patterns.
Sep 23, 2019
Darwin's Birds
The finches of the Galapagos Islands are famous in the history of evolutionary theory. But Charles Darwin spent four years studying other birds as well, as the Beagle circumnavigated southern South America before reaching the Galapagos in 1835.
Sep 22, 2019
In Seattle, Scrub-Jays Are Here to Stay
California Scrub-Jays are moving north up the Pacific coast of North America. The crafty birds join a number of other corvids, the crow- and jay-like birds, that already call the Pacific Northwest home.
Sep 21, 2019
Snowy Egrets - Killer Hats
Today you’ll find Snowy Egrets in the south and central United States and in remnant wetlands along the Atlantic coast. But once, they were rare. During the late 1800s, millions of birds – including Snowy Egrets – were killed annually to adorn the hats of fashionable ladies.
Sep 20, 2019
Jaegers Give Chase in September
A tern or gull plunges headfirst into the water, then bounces aloft grasping a small fish in its bill. But before the bird can swallow its catch, a Parasitic Jaeger swoops in. The jaeger nips the bird's wing, and it drops its hard-won fish.
Sep 19, 2019
A Bird Migrates South, Step by Step
Wood Thrushes migrate more than 2,000 miles each way, between their summer breeding territories in the US and Canada to where they winter in Central America. During migration, the birds will fly for hundreds of miles at night, then stop for days or weeks to refuel.
Sep 18, 2019
Ducks - Diving and Dabbling
Autumn brings many species of wintering ducks and seabirds to our waters. Watch carefully. Some dabble along the surface, feeding along shallow edges of lakes and estuaries. Others dive under the water, using their feet and occasionally their wings for propulsion.
Sep 17, 2019
Why Do Dippers Dip?
Why does the American Dipper dip? One possibility is that the dipper's repetitive bobbing, against a background of turbulent water, helps conceal the bird's image from predators. A second theory asserts that dipping helps the bird spot prey beneath the surface of the water.
Sep 16, 2019
Counting a Million Raptors Over Veracruz
A “river of raptors” flows through Veracruz State in eastern Mexico during the month of September. In Living on the Wind, Scott Weidensaul describes his experience counting the birds: “Nothing in a lifetime of birdwatching had prepared me for this spectacle,” he says.
Sep 15, 2019
Tree Swallow Roost
As the sun sets over the Connecticut River, as many as 300,000 Tree Swallows gather on the wing in one huge, tightly choreographed flock. With dusk at hand, the aerobatic flock - now shaped like a tornado - swoops down into the tall reeds.
Sep 14, 2019
Responsible Birdfeeding
A clean feeder is a life-and-death matter to some birds. To protect the birds at your feeder, clean it at least once a week, more often if necessary. Rake the ground underneath, too. Pine Siskins are especially prone to salmonellosis, a bacterial disease.
Sep 13, 2019
What Kind of Music Is Bird Song?
Composers from Vivaldi to Beethoven have been inspired by birdsong. But how similar is birdsong to the music we create? Two recent studies offer contrasting answers.
Sep 12, 2019
Green Heron
The Green Heron forages on the banks of small bodies of fresh water. Relying on its plumage for camouflage, it perches motionless — body horizontal and stretched forward — waiting for small fish to come close. This heron may use "bait" while hunting for fish.
Sep 11, 2019
Fastest Bird on Two Legs
Imagine an Ostrich, an Emu, a roadrunner, and the world’s fastest man and woman, all lined up for a race. Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt holds the men’s record for the 100-meter dash — 28 mph — and Florence Griffith-Joyner ran it just a shade slower.
Sep 10, 2019
Nighttime Flights of Songbirds
Some cloudless night in September, when the air is clear, you may see birds flying across the yellow face of the moon! September is peak migration time for millions of songbirds heading south from North America to more tropical latitudes.
Sep 09, 2019
How High Birds Fly II
Bar-headed Geese, champions of high-altitude migration, leave their nesting grounds in Tibet and scale the Himalayan range on their way to wintering grounds in the lowlands of India. How do they do it?
Sep 08, 2019
Gerrit Vyn on the Lammergeier
Sound recordist and photographer, Gerrit Vyn, spent two years in the Peace Corps in the mountains of Lesotho. He worked with a chief named Ntate Letsie in the village of Selemong.
Sep 07, 2019
The Pungent Mudflat
On the shore of a saltwater bay, the tide goes out, revealing a broad expanse of dark, glistening mudflat. Mudflats are rich in nutrients, such as decomposing organic matter and minerals.
Sep 06, 2019
Birdsong Wanes with the Season
By this time in September, most migratory birds have departed. Many resident birds remain, but their voices are now quiet. During fall and winter, birds don't need to sing to establish a breeding territory or attract a mate. Many songbirds lose the ability to sing.
Sep 05, 2019
Do Penguins Blush?
Humboldt Penguins living along the Pacific Coast of Chile and Peru are adapted to cold. But on land, temperatures rise to 100+ degrees, and penguins need to cool off. So these penguins have pink patches of bare skin on their face, under their wings, and on their feet.
Sep 04, 2019
Ravens and Crows - Who's Who?
Is that big black bird a crow or a raven? How can you tell? Ravens (seen right here) often travel in pairs, while crows (left) are seen in larger groups. Also, study the tail as the bird flies overhead. A crow's tail is shaped like a fan, while the raven's tail appears wedge-shaped.
Sep 03, 2019
Bee Hummingbird
The Bee Hummingbird, found only in Cuba, is the smallest bird in the world. An absolute miniature, even among hummingbirds, it measures only two and a quarter inches long. Often mistaken for bees, they weigh less than a dime.
Sep 02, 2019
Vivaldi's Goldfinch
Bird song caught the ear of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. And he even named a 1729 flute concerto for a bird — the goldfinch.
Sep 01, 2019
Laughing Kookaburra
The voice of the Laughing Kookaburra is so distinctive, it's one of the best known sounds in nature. Its exotic call has been a Hollywood standard for decades, that unseen creature in the depths of the jungle, with heroes ranging from Tarzan to Indiana Jones.
Aug 31, 2019
Genetics and Migration
Scientists have found that, at least for some species, a bird’s genes dictate the route it takes when it migrates.
Aug 30, 2019
Birds and Robots
One of the things airplane pilots worry about most is birds colliding with their planes, possibly causing an accident. Preventing bird strikes is a serious concern. Many airports resort to killing birds that might pose a threat.
Aug 29, 2019
Sound Escapes - Find Yourself in Nature
Sound recordist Gordon Hempton thinks our thoughts and our actions echo the place we’re in. So if we’re in a noisy city, we’ll be noisy ourselves. But, Gordon says, “When we go to a place that is nature at its most natural, I think we find ourselves being who we are.”
Aug 28, 2019
The Most Abundant Birds in North America
By August, most birds in North America have finished nesting, bringing billions of new birds into the world. So many birds. It might make you wonder: what is the most abundant bird in North America?
Aug 27, 2019
Sky Dancing - A Rare Sight
Out in the arid West, miles north of Winnemucca, a small caravan of birdwatchers searches for raptors along a distant ridgeline of basalt and sage. Nearby, a circle of green, created by pivot irrigation, attracts Northern Harriers that hunt over fields and marshes.
Aug 26, 2019
Band-tail, Pigeon of the Woods
Band-tailed Pigeons are found mostly in low-altitude forests. Though about the size of city pigeons, they can be shy and sometimes hard to see. Strictly a bird of the western states, the Band-tailed Pigeon is decreasing in numbers.
Aug 25, 2019
Advice to Beginning Birders from David Sibley
David Sibley, creator and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds, offers this advice for learning to identify birds such as this Warbling Vireo: “Spend time at home, paging through the field guide . . .
Aug 24, 2019
Swallow or Swift?
At a glance, swallows and swifts, both graceful fliers, look much alike. But swifts — like this Chimney Swift — have longer, slimmer wings and short bodies, enabling them to glide for long periods. Their glides are punctuated by rapid, stiff bursts of wing-beats.
Aug 23, 2019
Woodpeckers Love Ants
Woodpeckers, as a group, eat far more ants than most other birds do. Many other vertebrates tend to avoid ants because of their stings or because of the noxious chemicals they contain, like formic acid. But woodpeckers just love them. A Pileated Woodpecker’s diet may be up to 50% ants!
Aug 22, 2019
What Audubon Saw
Over the course of John James Audubon’s life, even in the 1800s, he noticed how quickly people were changing the wilderness. Today, hundreds of local, state and national Audubon societies fight for birds and the environment in his name.
Aug 21, 2019
Nightfall on the Zabalo
Visit a completely undisturbed ecosystem, where all the creatures we hear are all native to the land, and have coexisted and continued to evolve together for thousands of years. No animal is stepping on the communications of another animal. No two birds sound alike.
Aug 20, 2019
Birdsong Therapy
Where some noises — like TV, traffic and random conversations — can make it hard to concentrate, birdsong may make it easier. In Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, the sweet sounds of birdsong carry along the hallways.
Aug 19, 2019
Nature Prospers in Avalanche Chutes
Avalanches tend to follow historic channels down the face of a mountain, sweeping with them standing trees and boulders, while adjacent slopes remain clad in evergreens. Such natural snow courses are known as avalanche chutes. Soil often remains, creating a new opening for pioneering vegetation.
Aug 18, 2019
The Harpy Eagle Is a Huge, Powerful Hunter
Harpy Eagles spend their lives in tall, remote tropical forests in Central and South America, flying from tree to tree in search of food. The eagles are named for the Harpies of Greek mythology, women with the bodies of birds who, on Zeus’s command, snatched people from the earth.
Aug 17, 2019
Birds and Navigation
The natural world sends us messages if we’re open to receiving them. Ancient navigators put their trust in the birds’ amazing ability to find dry land, no matter how far they were from safe harbor.
Aug 16, 2019
A Crow That Makes Tools
A crow named Betty learned how to take a straight piece of wire and bend one end into a hook. She then used the hooked end to haul a tiny bucket of meat from the bottom of a long tube. A postage stamp was issued in honor of this New Caledonian Crow.
Aug 15, 2019
How Toucans Stay Cool
The Toco Toucan of South America has evolved to stay cool in the sweltering heat of the tropics. Relative to its body size, the Toco Toucan has the largest bill of any bird in the world, accounting for a third of the body’s entire surface area.
Aug 14, 2019
Michigan's State Bird Battle
Since 1929, Michigan’s state bird has been the American Robin. But lots of people think it’s time for a change. The Black-capped Chickadee is a popular favorite, as is the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler. But it turns out that it’s pretty hard to get a state bird changed.
Aug 13, 2019
Matching Birds with Their Habitats
Close your eyes and let’s take a little trip today, from one landscape to another, discovering new birds calling in the wild. Particular birds are tied to their particular habitats. As these natural places go, so go the birds.
Aug 12, 2019
Bird Life at the Grand Canyon
With its awe-inspiring vistas and eons of geologic time on display, the Grand Canyon also offers a unique habitat for birds. What you're likely to see first is this Bronzed Cowbird, strutting on the lawn of a lodge or restaurant. Common Ravens call and squabble.
Aug 11, 2019
Great Snipe - The Fastest Long-distance Migrant
One summer, Swedish ornithologists attached tiny tracking devices to ten Great Snipes. A year later, they found that one bird had flown from Sweden to Central Africa, a distance of 4,225 miles, in just three and a half days.
Aug 10, 2019
Northern Goshawks and Fire
Among the great firs and Ponderosa pines of Stanislaus National Forest in central California, Northern Goshawk nestlings crowd a platform nest of branches and pine needles halfway up a mature fir tree.
Aug 09, 2019
Are Baltimore Orioles and Bullock's Orioles Different Species?
Sometimes populations of birds split apart - a process called speciation. Where Baltimore Orioles and Bullock’s Orioles overlap in the Great Plains they produce hybrid offspring. But these hybrids don’t live very long or spread very far. Are these two birds different species?
Aug 08, 2019
Magnificent Frigatebird Drum Roll
Magnificent Frigatebirds are huge, gangly seabirds found around the warm waters of the Western Hemisphere. When it comes time to mate, males inflate giant red throat sacs, then rattle and drum their bills against them to create jazzy percussive sounds.
Aug 07, 2019
Common Nighthawk, Uncommon Sound
Swooping and diving through the air on its long slender wings, the Common Nighthawk emerges at dusk to chase down aerial insects. Nighthawks have short bills that open wide, so they can vacuum up their insect prey as they fly along.
Aug 06, 2019
The Sneeze of the Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatchers arrive later than most other migrants, usually at the end of May. They're coming from South America, a long way to fly for a bird that weighs less than half an ounce. A male Willow Flycatcher aggressively defends its territory against other males and soon attracts a mate.
Aug 05, 2019
Marsh Voices at Sunrise
In marshes across the country, birds awaken on a summer morning. Tall dense grasses and reeds often make marsh birds hard to see, but their voices carry easily across the lush, green landscape.
Aug 04, 2019
White Ibis's Tricky Nesting Schedule
For many birds, breeding and nesting are tied closely to spring. But for a bird like the White Ibis — one of the most abundant wading birds in the Southeast — the timing of nesting has to do with water. White Ibises forage in shallow pools of fresh water, especially for crayfish and small crabs.
Aug 03, 2019
Double-jointed Hawks and Convergent Evolution
Crane Hawks of Central and South America and African Harrier-Hawks both have legs that bend forward and backward. Each bird’s wonderfully peculiar leg adaptation is completely original - it evolved all on its own - even though the end result is the same.
Aug 02, 2019
An Albatross Surfs the Wind
By moving from the faster high air to slower low air, or vice versa, an albatross can propel itself forward. In a series of sinuous loops, the albatross surfs the wind, up and down, repeating the pattern over and over again as it moves thousands of miles across the ocean.
Aug 01, 2019
Night Singers
A bird like the Whip-poor-will is a true night bird – feeding, and mating, and nesting in the dark. But for about a week each spring, male Yellow-breasted Chats also sing in the darkness as they call out to the arriving females — their potential mates.
Jul 31, 2019
Mountain Walk with Bird Songs
A hike through the mountains of the West, from the lowlands to the rocky alpine zones, reveals an incredibly diverse array of beautiful birds: Swainson’s Thrushes, Pine Grosbeaks, American Pipits and so many more to be found.
Jul 30, 2019
Double Yolks
When young hens begin laying at five or six months, their ovaries aren’t fully in synch. So every hundred or so eggs, they release two yolks instead of one.
Jul 29, 2019
Adaptations for Flight
Birds evolved not only wings, but many other adaptations that make it possible to fly. Feathers provide insulation, waterproofing, and a lightweight means to become airborne. Birds have honeycombed or hollow bones, reducing body weight.
Jul 28, 2019
Birdhouses in Turkey
It’s easy to imagine that putting up a birdhouse or nestbox is a relatively recent practice. But in Turkey, it has a long history.
Jul 27, 2019
Sparrows Sing in Arizona Monsoon
Midday temperatures in southeast Arizona soar above 100 degrees during the month of July. But relief is coming. A summer monsoon refreshes the Sonoran Desert like a second spring. Grass grows lush, wildflowers spring forth, and birds sing.
Jul 26, 2019
The Cold Lake Amphitheater
A great place to listen to insects - and birds - is a remote mountain lake in the spring. Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist, recorded the sounds of this lake in Washington’s Methow Valley.
Jul 25, 2019
Crested Auklets Entice Their Mates with Scent
Crested Auklets are small seabirds that nest on remote cliffs in the Northern Pacific and the Bering Sea. But it’s their smell that really sets these birds apart. They smell like tangerines! Experiments show that females go for males that emit the strongest scents.
Jul 24, 2019
Killdeer, Master of Distraction
Since Killdeer don’t always pick the safest places to lay their eggs, they’ve developed a clever way to protect their young. They use the art of distraction.
Jul 23, 2019
Sound Escapes - Turning a Mountain Lake into a Microphone
If you’re at a cold mountain lake at just the right time and the air above it is warmer, then you might hear something magical. Because sound travels faster through warm layers than through cold ones, the lake can turn into a giant funnelling microphone.
Jul 22, 2019
House Sparrows' Dance
In 1559, Duke August of Saxony ordered that the House Sparrows of Dresden be excommunicated. The birds were slipping into Holy Cross Church, where they interrupted the sermon with exuberant chirping and “endless unchaste behavior” before the altar.
Jul 21, 2019
Fairy-Wrens Sing Secret Passwords to Unborn Chicks
Superb Fairy-wrens teach their embryonic chicks a secret code. This "incubation call" contains a special note that will later serve as a password. When the chicks have hatched, this password enables the adult birds to identify their babies in the darkness of their domed nest.
Jul 20, 2019
Burrowing Owls: Howdy Birds
A Burrowing Owl is about as big as a can of beans on stilts. Between the long legs, bright yellow eyes, and signature bobbing salute, these little birds are comical members of the western ecosystem. Cowboys riding Western rangelands have a nickname for these little owls.
Jul 19, 2019
The Female Oriole Weaves a Nest
In summer, across much of North America, a sudden flash of orange and black in the treetops usually means one thing: orioles. Baltimore Orioles in the East, Bullock’s Orioles in the West, and Hooded Orioles in the Southwest and California.
Jul 18, 2019
Why Do Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers Look So Similar?
Generations of birders have puzzled over how to tell Downy Woodpeckers from Hairy Woodpeckers. The two species’ patterns of black and white feathers are so alike that it was long thought they were the closest of relatives.
Jul 17, 2019
Most Kingfishers Don't Fish
In North America, kingfishers fish. But in tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia, most of the roughly 90 species of kingfishers don’t “fish.” They hunt in woodlands, where the smaller ones, like the four-inch Pygmy Kingfisher, eat grasshoppers and centipedes.
Jul 16, 2019
Bond. James Bond. Birdwatcher.
The real James Bond was born in Philadelphia in 1900 and worked as a banker after college. But his first love was the natural world. Eventually, he kissed the banking world goodbye and dedicated the rest of his life to exploring and documenting birds and nature.
Jul 15, 2019
Jazz for the Birds
Birds are an inspiration for many musicians. Before writing “The Penguin,” Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo. Though penguins are clumsy on land, Gentoos like the ones pictured here are the fastest of any diving bird, reaching 22 miles an hour.
Jul 14, 2019
Rock Pigeons: Bobbleheads
A Rock Pigeon bobs its head as it walks, making it appear that its head and feet are linked. Pigeons' eyes are on the sides of their heads, permitting them to watch for predators from all directions, but limiting their ability to distinguish distances.
Jul 13, 2019
Aldo Leopold and the Field Sparrows
The Field Sparrow was the first bird song Aldo Leopold awoke to on his farm in the 1940s. In his Sand County Almanac, a classic of conservation and nature writing, Leopold brought to life scenes of nature, a month at a time.
Jul 12, 2019
Tracking Birds During Migration
It’s more important than ever to map their travels – to learn when birds take flight, where they stop to rest, and what they require for food and shelter along the way.
Jul 11, 2019
Wrens from North to South
There are nearly ninety species of wrens in the world, and quite a few are exceptional singers. Nearly all of them reside in the Western Hemisphere, with the majority living in Central and South America.
Jul 10, 2019
Anhingas - Snakebirds
In the black water of a Louisiana bayou, the water ripples where a slender form glides just beneath the surface. It appears to be a snake, but look closer at the long, narrow spike of a beak.
Jul 09, 2019
Swift Bricks
Common Swifts in Europe nest in eaves and under roof tiles and gables. But modern construction doesn’t have these nooks and crannies, and populations of swifts have been declining.
Jul 08, 2019
Fruit as a Bribe
In summer, many shrubs bear fruit that birds find irresistible. Elderberries, serviceberries, blackberries, dogwood berries, mulberries, and currants attract many species of birds, including waxwings, tanagers, robins, warblers and this Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
Jul 07, 2019
Do Birds Use Ants as Tools?
The purpose of anting remains something of a mystery, although most experts agree it has to do with transferring the ants’ secretions to the bird’s body. It’s likely that the ants’ formic acid helps the bird control feather-mites and other parasites.
Jul 06, 2019
Flyin' in the Rain
Most birds are mostly waterproof. Their feathers, aided by oil from preen glands, keep them pretty watertight. So why do birds avoid flying during rainstorms? It may have more to do with the air than with the water. Rainstorms tend to occur when atmospheric pressure is low.
Jul 05, 2019
The Bald Eagle, A National Symbol
Immature Bald Eagles look so different from mature Bald Eagles that John James Audubon thought they were a different species entirely! Sitting about three feet tall, these majestic birds have wingspans of more than six feet.
Jul 04, 2019
Swallow-tailed Kite
There's a bird of prey in the American Southeast that takes grace to an utterly new level: the Swallow-tailed Kite. A sleek raptor with a white head, slender black wings, and a long, deeply forked black tail, the Swallow-tailed Kite almost never flaps its wings.
Jul 03, 2019
Canada Jays Are Bold Residents of the Mountains
Formerly known as the Gray Jay — and nicknamed the Camp Robber or Whiskey Jack — the mountain-dwelling Canada Jay seems to crash your picnic even faster than hungry ants.
Jul 02, 2019
The Peacock's Tail: More Than Meets the Eye
When a male Indian Peafowl unfurls its magnificently-colored tail and shakes it, it creates an ultra low frequency sound that we humans can’t hear. But it seems to get the special attention of female birds, called peahens.
Jul 01, 2019
Turkey Vultures and Gas Pipelines
Do vultures detect carrion by sight or by smell? The lightbulb moment came to ornithologist Kenneth Stager when a Union Oil employee told him of vultures congregating at the spot
Jun 30, 2019
Brewer's Sparrow, Sageland Singer
One of the most musical and complex bird songs in the US is that of the Brewer's Sparrow. It's a veritable aria, ringing forth from the sagebrush of Eastern Washington's Columbia Basin. Shrub-steppe is disappearing from the interior west as it is cleared for irrigated crops.
Jun 29, 2019
Gannets and Dolphins
Northern Gannets, fish-eating seabirds, dive headfirst into the ocean at speeds of up to 60 miles an hour, pursuing their prey. Sometimes, they get help. Dolphins herd fish into dense, frantic concentrations near the surface, while gannets take advantage and plunge into the shoals from aloft.
Jun 28, 2019
The Arctic Plain in June
In early June, millions of birds arrive on the Arctic Coastal Plain in Alaska, from all over the world. They're there to attract a mate and raise their young. One shorebird, the Pectoral Sandpiper, has a pectoral sac on its chest.
Jun 27, 2019
Great Black-backed Gull, North Atlantic Predator
Great Black-backed Gulls have a reputation as serious predators of other birds. During the nesting season, they’ll prey on eggs and nestlings of other seabirds. They’ll also hunt adult seabirds including puffins and grebes, as well as songbirds as big as a grackle.
Jun 26, 2019
Audubon and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Hummingbirds have a symbiotic relationship with flowers: They buzz in close to drink the sweet nectar that the flowers make. While the hummer has its long beak and even longer tongue deep in the tube of the flower, it’s being dusted with pollen all across its face.
Jun 25, 2019
Sound Escapes - A Jubilant Riot of Music
When he was just 22 years old, a young man named Samuel Clemens (who would go on to become the writer Mark Twain) signed on to train as a pilot on a Mississippi riverboat.
Jun 24, 2019
Hearing Loss and Birds
More than 20 years ago, Professor Ed Rubel of the University of Washington discovered that chickens could repair their own damaged hearing. The birds regrow tiny structures in the inner ear, known as auditory hair cells. Most vertebrates can regenerate these cells - but mammals cannot.
Jun 23, 2019
Giant Owls of Cuba
The Cuban Giant Owl, now extinct, was 3½ feet tall and weighed 20 pounds — the largest of all known owls. It had very small wings, running after its prey on long, powerful legs. Similar large owls, with long legs and small wings, have been unearthed in places as disparate as Georgia and Hawaii.
Jun 22, 2019
Sound Escapes - Dawn on the Mississippi