BirdNote

By BirdNote

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Category: Natural Sciences

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Subscribers: 423
Reviews: 4


 Jan 30, 2021

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

Lance
 May 14, 2019

Pavel
 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!

Description

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
Nest Boxes Help Bring Birds Back
Wherever you live, chances are a sweet-singing, cavity-nesting bird would be happy to perform in your yard — and it might stick around if you offer it a cozy nest box, like the one this Carolina Wren enjoys. Natural cavities, like old woodpecker holes, are often in short supply. So putting up a box
Feb 25, 2021
Sanderlings
Here and there along winter shorelines, little flocks of pale, silvery shorebirds probe at the water's edge, keeping pace with each wave's ebb and flow. These are Sanderlings, small sandpipers that stay through the winter. Rachel Carson, in Under the Sea Wind, described Sanderlings as running "with
Feb 24, 2021
Kelp in the Eagles’ Nest
A pair of Bald Eagles will reuse their nest each year and repair it with new tree branches. But recently in British Columbia, scientists came across an eagle nest made largely out of dried kelp. Back in the ‘90s, that very nest had been made out of tree branches. What changed? Sea Otters were
Feb 23, 2021
Long-eared Owl - You Don't See Me!
Long-eared Owls aren’t rare, and they don’t live in remote locations. But their plumage and habits make them incredibly elusive. The mixture of warm browns and cool, bark-like grays lends the bird an astonishingly branch-like appearance. When potential predators approach, the birds close their
Feb 22, 2021
The Elegant Black Tern
Elegant Black Terns breed in summer on secluded wetlands across the northern states and Canada. Because of major losses of wetlands in their breeding range — especially in Canada's prairie provinces — Black Tern numbers have dropped dramatically since the 1960s. The future of this beautiful bird
Feb 21, 2021
Altamira Oriole
It was only in 1939 that this Altamira Oriole was first found north of the Rio Grande River. Now it happily visits residents on the Texas side of the river, especially where a juicy orange half waits in a backyard feeder. Northerly breeding orioles, like Bullock's in the West and the Baltimore in
Feb 20, 2021
Museum Eggs Help Solve Mysteries
There are five million bird eggs stowed away in museums across the world — and the study of eggs, called oology, can give us great insight into birds. The link between DDT and the decline of Peregrine Falcon populations was identified in part using museum and personal egg collections, and this
Feb 19, 2021
Elephant Birds Laid Really Big Eggs
What bird laid the largest eggs ever known? To date, the record holder is the now-extinct Elephant Bird, a relative of the present-day Ostrich and other large, flightless birds, including rheas, cassowaries, and kiwis. Elephant Birds lived on the island of Madagascar. But by perhaps 1000-1200 BC
Feb 18, 2021
Spark Bird: Diana Sudyka's First Bird ID
When illustrator Diana Sudyka was in second grade, she was given a Peterson’s Bird Field Guide. She still remembers making her first bird ID — a Brown-headed Cowbird. Even years later, Sudyka’s love of birds has stuck with her. She recently illustrated the children’s book, How to Find a Bird, by
Feb 17, 2021
Swan Song
The idea of the "swan song" recurs from Aesop to Ovid to Plato to Tennyson. Ovid described it, "There, she poured out her words of grief, tearfully, in faint tones, in harmony with sadness, just as the swan sings once, in dying, its own funeral song." But it's based on a sweet fallacy - that a swan
Feb 16, 2021
The Robin's Namesake
Like the American Robin, the European Robin is a bird of yards and gardens. But it’s not much bigger than a chickadee. The robin’s likeness turns up everywhere from Mother Goose rhymes, Peter Rabbit stories, and whiskey labels to postage stamps and Christmas cards. On at least two occasions, the
Feb 15, 2021
Tokens of Affection
Birds have many ways of showing affection for their partners. One way is allopreening, where a bird uses its bill to groom a mate, twirling each individual feather in its beak (like these Macaws.) Other birds present their partners with gifts like moss or sticks. A female Arabian Babbler might
Feb 14, 2021
Crossbills Nest in Winter
In the grips of winter, when most songbirds are months away from the breeding season, crossbills are already warming up. It’s all about the food. When the evergreens hang heavy with snow and cones, crossbills can get all the calories they need for the demands of reproduction: courtship, egg-laying
Feb 13, 2021
Chickadee Line-up
You'll find the Black-capped Chickadee across the northern US into Canada. The Carolina Chickadee holds sway in the Southeast. Hear the husky voice of a Mountain Chickadee in the Rockies. Travel to Canada for the Boreal Chickadee. This Chestnut-backed Chickadee calls the Pacific Northwest home. The
Feb 12, 2021
You Are What You Eat
House Finches are familiar birds all across North America. Researchers have shown that the red coloration of males is produced from carotenoid pigments in the birds' diet. Male House Finches develop brighter plumage when they are growing in new feathers, if they eat more fruits containing
Feb 11, 2021
Seeds of Attraction
What is it that draws us to a romantic partner? Birds have lots of ways to catch the attention of a mate. Most cranes duet with prospective partners for years before they begin breeding. Crested Auklets of both sexes produce a pungent citrus perfume. And Blue-footed Boobies dance, showing off their
Feb 10, 2021
Snowy Owls Are Here!
In some years, great numbers of Snowy Owls come south from the Arctic to reside in fields, farmlands, and shorelines. In the past, it was believed that population crashes of lemmings on the breeding grounds caused many owls to come south. But their movements are more complex and unpredictable than
Feb 09, 2021
A Pigeon-eyed View of the World
Pigeons — and other birds with eyes on the sides of their heads — have a different view of the world from that of creatures with forward-facing eyes. The images from a pigeon’s eyes overlap slightly, so the bird can see in front of itself, even though it has worse depth perception. But these
Feb 08, 2021
San Diego Bay in Winter
Birds (including Western Gulls, like this one) and people share San Diego Bay -- a deep-water port, navy ships, pleasure boats, and salt-evaporation ponds. Even so, it’s one of the best bird habitats on the West Coast. Western Sandpipers probe the mud for worms and snails. Egrets stalk the shoreline
Feb 07, 2021
Rock Pigeon, Urban Bird
The Rock Pigeon is the quintessential urban bird. Early European settlers at Jamestown and Plymouth introduced it to North America in the 1600s, and it is now found across the entire country. Flocks roam parks and city streets and sit on wires and billboards. Be part of our flock of supporters, and
Feb 06, 2021
Consider the Ostrich
The flightless Ostrich is a bird of superlatives. It's the largest and tallest bird on the planet, growing to maybe eight feet tall, and weighing 250 pounds! It's also the fastest creature on two legs, capable of running at 40 miles an hour. Ostriches have never been observed to stick their heads in
Feb 05, 2021
Can Birds Spread COVID-19?
Birds are ideal hosts for various viruses: they gather in large flocks, often carry viruses without any symptoms, and their migrations connect all parts of the world. But as far as SARS-CoV-2, the kind of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in humans, it seems there’s no need to worry. In a study of
Feb 04, 2021
Red-crowned Cranes Dance on Hokkaido
On a snow-covered field in northern Japan, two majestic Red-crowned Cranes face one another, raise their heads toward the sky, and call in unison. As they call, the pair begins to dance. They bow to one another, then throw their heads over their backs, then bow again. The pair leaps into the air, at
Feb 03, 2021
Three Kingfishers
The Belted Kingfisher is the one species of kingfisher found throughout most of North America north of Mexico. You'll have to go to Texas to see two other kingfishers. The quiet call of the Green Kingfisher - like this one - can be heard at wooded streams and ponds. A Ringed Kingfisher perches up
Feb 02, 2021
Spark Bird: Corina Newsome Meets the Blue Jay
In an ornithology class in college, Corina Newsome was introduced to the Blue Jay. After this, Newsome was determined to learn about the world of birds she had never noticed before. Now she’s an avian ecology graduate student and Community Engagement Manager for Georgia Audubon, where she can pass
Feb 01, 2021
Sleeping on the Wing
Some swifts and frigatebirds stay aloft for months. But for a long time, scientists did not know if the birds might be sleeping on the wing. A 2016 study provided answers. Tiny devices attached to the heads of frigatebirds revealed fascinating information: the birds did sleep while aloft, most often
Jan 31, 2021
Screech-Owls Are Looking for a Home
Looking for a project this winter? Consider giving screech-owls a helping hand. Eastern and Western Screech-Owls span the wooded areas of the continent, nesting in tree cavities left vacant by large woodpeckers. However, such natural housing opportunities are often in short supply. That’s where you
Jan 30, 2021
Oh, Nuts! The Trials of a Red-headed Woodpecker
Knowing when to hunker down and when to move on is a matter of survival for the Red-headed Woodpecker. This noisy bird spends its summers taking insects from the sky in flashy, acrobatic flight. But prey is harder to find in winter, and in most years the woodpeckers move south. A bumper crop of
Jan 29, 2021
Why Do Chickadees Come and Go?
A chickadee comes in to the feeder, quickly grabs a seed, and flies away. It may return immediately, but it's more likely to wait its turn. When a whole flock of chickadees moves into the yard, it looks as if they form a living conveyer belt. One chickadee after another flies to the feeder and
Jan 28, 2021
Migration Routes Evolve
Why do birds consistently follow certain routes in their migrations? Pathways of migration evolved, shaped by the wind. During the height of the last ice age, ice-free breeding habitat for songbirds remained in what is now Alaska and parts of Western Canada. Studies of fossil pollen show that
Jan 27, 2021
What Happens When Birds Get Wet?
Have you ever seen a bird foraging in the rain and wondered why it isn't soaked to the bone? While every bird wears one feather coat, different kinds of feathers – and even different parts of the same feather – can perform various functions. The outermost tips of the main body feathers, called the
Jan 26, 2021
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - Rain Crow
In addition to their scientific names, birds are also given "official" English names. Take the bird commonly known as the rain crow, for example, officially referred to as the Yellow-billed Cuckoo by the American Ornithological Society. Its scientific name is Coccyzus americanus. Of course, the bird
Jan 25, 2021
American Redstart - The Tale Is in the Tail
Who knew that this American Redstart’s feathers could reveal so much information about its life? For example, the more intense the color of a male American Redstart’s feathers, the better his chances of holding a good winter territory, which means access to good nutrition. Being well fed and in
Jan 24, 2021
Treeswifts: Exquisite Minimalists
The treeswifts of India, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and beyond make their nests out of bits of plants and feathers and hold it all together with some very sticky saliva. A treeswift’s whole nest is but a tiny cup — just large enough to hold a single egg — stuck to a bare upright branch. The adult
Jan 23, 2021
Rhinoceros Hornbill
Rhinoceros Hornbills are among the largest of the world’s 54 species of hornbills, which are spread across Africa and India to Asia and New Guinea. Some hornbills eat mostly fruit. Others are carnivorous, snapping up lizards, small mammals, and birds. Most live in mature, tropical forests, but some
Jan 22, 2021
The Noisy Willet
Unlike many shorebirds, Willets breed inland. When nesting is done, they migrate south to both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines in the U.S. and Central and South America. What they all have in common, wherever they have bred and wherever they spend the winters, is an unmistakable voice, combining the
Jan 21, 2021
61 Tons of Robins!
In winter, flocks of American Robins spend the night together. Typically, a few dozen to a few hundred birds roost communally in trees or an old barn, or under a bridge. But larger robin roosts can number in the thousands, or even tens of thousands! In 2007, observers near St. Petersburg, Florida
Jan 20, 2021
The Flicker's White Rump
When a Northern Flicker takes flight, a bold patch of white feathers flashes on its rump, in contrast to its brown body. This white rump likely evolved as an anti-predator adaptation. A hawk flying in pursuit of a flicker may focus on the white spot rather than the darker image of the whole bird
Jan 19, 2021
Bohemian Waxwings - Exquisite Winter Visitors
It's winter, and apples litter the ground. A few still hang, frozen and thawed again and again. Suddenly a flock of hundreds of birds rises from the ground beneath the trees, swarming in tight formation, wing-tip to wing-tip. Bohemian Waxwings are erratic winter visitors from their nesting grounds
Jan 18, 2021
The Secret Stash of Eggshells
Developing eggshells requires a key ingredient — calcium — in larger quantities than the female typically has in her bloodstream. Just how different bird species supply or store calcium for egg-laying isn’t fully known. While some species seek out extra calcium from their environment, many species
Jan 17, 2021
Hooded Merganser
Hooded Mergansers, affectionately known as “Hoodies,” nest across most of the northern US and well into Canada. They’re especially prevalent around the Great Lakes, though some winter as far south as Florida. By November, courtship and pair formation is well under way. And by early spring, Hoodies
Jan 16, 2021
Why Do Grebes Eat Their Feathers?
Eared Grebes eat brine shrimp and aquatic insects for sustenance, but rigid exoskeletons make them hard to digest. So these grebes -- along with their other grebe cousins -- evolved to use their feathers as a way to slow down digestion. The feathers form dense balls in the digestive tract and appear
Jan 15, 2021
Why Arctic Terns Have Short Beaks
The bill and legs of Arctic Terns are shorter than those of Common Terns. Because Arctic Terns breed in the Arctic and winter in the Antarctic, they are subject to much colder weather than are Common Terns. Birds' bills and legs lose heat, because they're not covered by feathers. Birds in cold
Jan 14, 2021
Long-eared Owls Fly at Night
Nocturnal Long-eared Owls tuck up in dense stands of trees across North America and temperate Europe and Asia. They may form communal roosts up to a hundred in number in the winter. After dark, their low-pitched hoots carry for half a mile, as they cruise low over fields, listening intently for
Jan 13, 2021
Why Do Some Birds Flock?
When birds like these Dunlin form flocks, each individual is less likely to be captured by a predator. Some shorebirds that forage with their heads down, like godwits, will flock with birds that forage with their heads up, like curlews. Still other birds work together — like American White Pelicans
Jan 12, 2021
The Hoopoe's Smelly Family
The Eurasian Hoopoe isn’t picky about where it nests. But whether it builds a home in a tree cavity, termite mound, or nest box, it’ll be stinky. Mother birds coat their eggs in an antimicrobial secretion that smells like rotten eggs. Then, when the chicks are hatched, they paint the nest cavity
Jan 11, 2021
Why Do Owls Bob Their Heads?
If you were to stand face to face with an owl, including this Great Gray Owl, it would eventually move its head, bobbing rhythmically from side to side, then forward, then back. Or almost completely upside down. This head-bobbing action helps make up for an anatomical limitation: an owl’s eyes are
Jan 10, 2021
Sooty Tern
Sooty Terns have long been called "wide-awakes" because of their calls. But it may describe their sleeping habits, too. When young terns leave their breeding grounds, they don't return for several years. They do not rest on the water, and only rarely land on floating objects. They feed while aloft
Jan 09, 2021
Birds, Nests, and Camouflage
Bird nests can be hard to find, often hidden in plain sight. Is the clever camouflage simply the result of using building materials that the birds happen to find? A Scottish research team used birds popular in the pet trade, Zebra Finches, to try and find out. The team gave nesting Zebra Finches two
Jan 08, 2021
Saving the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
After carving a nest cavity in a living tree, which can take a year or more, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers peck holes around the nest, causing sap to flow downward. This creates a barrier to thwart hungry snakes. The mature longleaf pine woods where these endangered birds live are shrinking. Recovery
Jan 07, 2021
Birds That Whistle
Many bird songs are rich and complex, difficult to remember, and nearly impossible to imitate. Some species' songs, however, sound as if they could have been whistled by a human. These simpler, pure-noted songs are some of the most familiar and easy to remember. These songs -- including the "pee-a
Jan 06, 2021
Outdoors with the Urban Bird Collective
Monica Bryand, co-founder of the Urban Bird Collective, takes us along to capture an image of Sandhill Cranes. Audubon Minnesota asked her to capture some of the 166 climate-threatened and endangered birds in Minnesota. They were hoping for 50 to 75 on the list. But after her first season, she had
Jan 05, 2021
Jaywalking
In 1917, cars had only recently become common, and stepping out into traffic was dangerous. Back then, the term "jay" was slang for a hick, a country bumpkin. Bostonians with little tolerance for rural folk coined the term "jaywalker" to describe someone green to the ways of the city and modern
Jan 04, 2021
Ptarmigan in Winter
Both the Willow Ptarmigan and these White-tailed Ptarmigan, feathered mostly brown in summer, are utterly transfigured by an autumn molt. As snow begins to mantle their world, both species, now all white, blend in superbly. But the ptarmigan pulls another trick. It adds dense white feathering on
Jan 03, 2021
Sparrows Kick, Robins Pick
If you watch backyard birds, you will likely see some characteristic behaviors. One example is "foraging" styles — the behaviors that a bird uses to find food. Some birds, such as sparrows, are famous for their "double-scratch" behavior. The bird jumps forward and back, quite quickly...twice. In
Jan 02, 2021
How Feathers Insulate
A single Canada Goose has between 20 and 25 thousand feathers. Some are designed to help the bird fly or shed water. Many are the short, fluffy kind, the down that insulates the bird from the cold. Birds survive in sub-zero weather by fluffing their feathers, creating layers of air and feathers
Jan 01, 2021