By BirdNote

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 Jan 30, 2021

 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
Dry Tortugas Archipelago
From a bird's perspective, the Dry Tortugas, a cluster of islands in the Gulf of Mexico, can be a life-saver. Millions of migratory songbirds fly north across the Gulf and Caribbean each spring, headed for North America. If they run into heavy wind and rain blowing down from the continent, the Dry
Apr 19, 2021
Sprague's Pipit - The Missouri Skylark
In Rare & Elusive Birds of North America, naturalist William Burt writes about Sprague's Pipit, also known as the Missouri Skylark. "Upward he goes, in bounding spirals: two, three, four, even five-hundred feet above the plain it is supposed; then he weaves about slowly, easily, as if swimming, and
Apr 18, 2021
Toddlers - Fledgling Chickadees
Sometimes in spring or summer, you might see a fledgling songbird: Like a toddler, it’s unsteady, awkward, and learning the ropes. And you might wonder if the young bird has left the nest too soon. (In the case of this Black-capped Chickadee, just 16 days after hatching) But a nest full of begging
Apr 17, 2021
New Zealand Bellbird
A forest in New Zealand rings with the sound of bellbirds, also known as Korimako or Makomako. Many bellbirds sing together, especially in the morning. Pairs sing duets. And a pair may counter-sing with its neighbors, perhaps letting them know that this patch of land is taken. It all builds to a
Apr 16, 2021
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher nests in the open country of Texas, Oklahoma, and the south-central region. It's an elegant bird with a slender, deeply forked tail longer than its body. Agile in flight, it can spread and fold its tail, altering the surface area, like an extra pair of wings. When
Apr 15, 2021
The Alula
Adjusting the flaps on an airplane’s wing allows a pilot to control lift and drag — and the design of these flaps was inspired by the wings of birds. All flying birds have what’s called an alula on each wing. At the center of the front edge of the wing is a structure covered with three to five
Apr 14, 2021
Snipe Hunt
One of the most ethereal of spring sounds is that made by the Wilson's Snipe. Much as if they were playing a reed instrument, the male snipe produces a winnowing sound in flight by metering, with his wings, the flow of air over his tail-feathers. Among the most venerable of practical jokes anywhere
Apr 13, 2021
Wandering Albatross Molt
Most birds molt and regrow their flight or wing feathers—one at a time along each wing—to stay in prime condition for flying. But for a Wandering Albatross, with a whopping 10- to 12-foot wingspan, that’s a big job! It takes the large albatrosses a full year to molt, and they have to put off
Apr 12, 2021
The Thieving Magpie?
Rossini’s 1815 opera, The Thieving Magpie, tells of a household maid who nearly goes to the gallows for stealing silver from her employers. At the last instant, it’s revealed that the thief was actually a magpie. The opera was so popular in its day that it’s believed to have helped cement the
Apr 11, 2021
What's Inside a Woodpecker's Nest Hole?
Many woodpeckers chisel out deep cavities in tree trunks in order to lay their eggs and raise their brood. The cavities hollowed out by the birds vary in size, depending on the species of woodpecker. The chamber of a tiny Downy Woodpecker descends about a foot from the opening, while the Pileated
Apr 10, 2021
Tricolored Blackbirds Face the Future
Tricolored Blackbirds nest primarily in California, but smaller groups breed from the state of Washington to Mexico’s Baja California. They look a lot like Red-winged Blackbirds, except Tricolored males have dark red epaulets and white bars on their wings instead of scarlet epaulets and yellow bars
Apr 09, 2021
A Tool-Using Nuthatch
The nuthatch’s beak is all business. Long, slender, sharp: it can pluck a tiny spider from a crevice in the bark or carve a nest hole right through the outer hide of a tree. And the Brown-headed Nuthatch is even known to use tools! Picking up a flake of pine bark in its beak, the bird uses it as a
Apr 08, 2021
Tanagers - Coffee Birds
This Scarlet Tanager (R), its cousin the Western Tanager (L), and your latte have a connection. Much of the birds' prime wintering habitat has been turned into coffee plantations. When shade-giving trees are cut down to grow coffee in direct sunlight, the tanagers' winter habitat is also removed
Apr 07, 2021
Kinglets in Winter
The Golden-crowned Kinglet weighs six grams, about the same as two pennies, yet winters as far north as Alaska and Nova Scotia. The birds move through the forest in small flocks and feed constantly, taking in enough tiny caterpillars to maintain their internal furnace at 110°F. And their insulation
Apr 06, 2021
The Color of Birds' Eyes
Peer into the world of birds, and eyes of many different colors peer back. While eye color isn’t tied to one group of birds or another, a common pattern is a change in eye color as immature birds grow to adulthood. Bald Eagles, Ring-billed Gulls, and ducks such as goldeneyes and scaup have brown
Apr 05, 2021
High Island, Texas
Each spring, millions of songbirds migrate north from the New World tropics to nest in North America. It takes 15 hours on average to cross the roughly 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico. If wind or rain slows the crossing, the birds are worn out and famished when they reach land. What will they find
Apr 04, 2021
Rainwater Basin
For 20,000 years, spring rains and melting snow have filled the playas of the Rainwater Basin of south-central Nebraska. As winter ends, ten million waterfowl rest and feed here before continuing north. The seasonal wetlands form a funnel for birds heading from the Gulf Coast and points south to
Apr 03, 2021
Wendy S. Walters - Hollywood Finches
When writer Wendy S. Walters lived in LA in the early 2000s, she wrote a collection of poems about the city called The Birds of Los Angeles. For one of her poems, she wanted to examine the idea of the Hollywood romance “and the ways in which people think that they're going to be walking into a movie
Apr 02, 2021
How Birds Produce Sound
Nearly all birds produce sound through an organ unique to birds, the syrinx. In many songbirds, the syrinx is not much bigger than a raindrop. Extremely efficient, it uses nearly all the air that passes through it. By contrast, a human creates sound using only 2% of the air exhaled through the
Apr 01, 2021
Singer's Brain Changes with the Seasons
In higher animals, the brain is like a Lamborghini — amazing engineering, but expensive to run. In a human, the brain uses about 10 times more energy than other organs. A bird's system is exquisitely attuned to this expense. Several species, including Black-capped Chickadees, have adapted in a
Mar 31, 2021
Providing Water for Birds
From chickadees to Cooper’s Hawks, most birds love a good bath. Some birds get the fluids they need from their food, but many birds need a drink at least twice a day. Water is essential for birds, and supplying clean water for them to drink and bathe in is a great way to help maintain native bird
Mar 30, 2021
How Brown Pelicans Dive
Brown Pelicans fly just above the surface of the water. They circle high, then diving headfirst, plunge under water to catch fish. But doesn't that hurt? Several adaptations protect pelicans as they dive. First, they have air sacs beneath the skin on their breasts, which act as cushions. Watch a
Mar 29, 2021
Homing Pigeons
Pigeon fanciers from around the world race specially bred homing pigeons over distances up to 600 miles. These stalwart and intelligent birds course the skies at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour. In 2005, a homing pigeon flying home to a loft in Norfolk, Virginia earned the record for that year
Mar 28, 2021
Watching Birds' Behavior
To distinguish one bird from a similar one, watch how the bird moves. Does it flick its wings? Bob up and down? Flip its tail? The White-breasted Nuthatch (right) works its way down the trunk of a tree, while the Brown Creeper works its way up. A field guide usually mentions these behaviors, and
Mar 27, 2021
The Power of Albatross Partnerships
Waved Albatrosses produce such slow-growing, needy offspring that females lay only a single egg every two years. And both parents need to share the load until youngsters can hunt on their own. Albatrosses tend to pair for life, and reunited pairs go through an elaborate, synchronized ritual of
Mar 26, 2021
Cheery American Robin
What was the first bird you noticed as a child? Perhaps you heard the cheery song of the American Robin coming from the top of a nearby tree. Or maybe you saw a robin running and pausing on the lawn, cocking its head before extracting a fat, juicy worm from the ground. The robin is often the first
Mar 25, 2021
Spark Bird: Ryan Mandelbaum and the Great Blue Heron
As a kid, science writer Ryan Mandelbaum avoided birds, thinking they were gross and kind of scary. But doing a video project in journalism school, Ryan had to search all over to get footage of a Great Blue Heron. When Ryan found one in its nest, they were shocked at how majestic and beautiful the
Mar 24, 2021
The Sociable Weaver's Colonial Nest
When it comes to nests, common sense suggests that large birds build large nests, and small birds build small nests. But in fact, some species of smaller birds build large nests. None, though, builds anything like the communal structures of Sociable Weavers in southern Africa’s arid plains. These
Mar 23, 2021
Pigeons and Head-bobbing
Pigeons seem to bob their heads as they move, like they’re grooving to an internal tune. But what look like head bobs are actually momentary pauses of the head while they walk. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so that pausing enables the pigeon to take a brief, steady view of its surroundings
Mar 22, 2021
Voices and Vocabularies - Clever Chickadees
Few backyard birds are as beloved as the Black-capped Chickadee. The boldly patterned chickadee is perky, trusting – and it seems to introduce itself by calling its name – chick-a-dee. But when a chickadee voices its namesake call – using a host of variations – it’s most likely maintaining contact
Mar 21, 2021
Blakiston's Fish-Owl
The Blakiston's Fish-Owl is the largest owl in the world. Compared with North America’s largest familiar owl, the Great Horned, the Blakiston's is six inches taller and nearly three times as heavy. No other owl approaches its prodigious girth. But the Blakiston's Fish-Owl is endangered. It's found
Mar 20, 2021
Wood-Wrens - A Tropical Duet
Gray-breasted Wood-Wrens sing a duet. Each sings a different phrase, yet the phrases are so closely linked, it sounds like one song. Such singing is called antiphonal song. The pairs use song to stake out and hold breeding territories. Dueting is most typical of birds that live in dense habitats; it
Mar 19, 2021
Singing in the City
It’s a challenge for birds to sing through the loud hum of traffic. Many just belt it out, but not all birds. Great Tits, Song Sparrows and House Finches that live in a city sing at a higher pitch than their country cousins. And European Robins in cities sing more at night, when there is less of a
Mar 18, 2021
The Superbly Adapted Osprey
This Osprey looks similar to other birds of prey. But the species is truly unique among raptors. For example, the Osprey is the only raptor with oily feathers. And the Osprey’s long, slender, arched wings help it clear the water as it takes flight after catching a fish. The Osprey we see today —
Mar 17, 2021
Insects Are Essential
Insects sustain our ecosystems, as a food source and pollinators of 90% of all plants. But their numbers have dropped by half in the last 50 years, so it is now critical to help foster insects. One concrete way to help is to grow native plants that provide food and shelter for insects like
Mar 16, 2021
Tree Swallows March North
Every March sees the annual spring migration of Tree Swallows. Most of these swallows spend the winter along the Caribbean, in Central America, and in the warmest parts of South Texas and California. Some will nest as far north as northern Alaska and Canada. Tree Swallows nest only in cavities, such
Mar 15, 2021
Tune Up Your Ears - East
By March in the East, cardinals and other songbirds that don't migrate are already singing heartily to attract mates. Many other birds - including this Yellow Warbler - will return north from the tropics in April and May, announcing themselves in song as soon as they arrive in nesting areas. Now is
Mar 14, 2021
A Treasure Chest of Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds' names evoke their exquisite qualities and variety, from sabrewings to woodstars to sunangels-to this Violet Sabre-wing. Central and South America are home to well over 300 species of hummingbirds! Find out more about hummingbird migration -- and what hummingbirds might be coming your
Mar 13, 2021
The Best Nest
Some birds woo a mate by building the best nest. Males of many weaverbird species construct a series of intricately woven nests to impress a prospective partner. A male Red-winged Blackbird can even attract multiple mates if he controls prime breeding territory. Adélie Penguins construct their nests
Mar 12, 2021
Flicker Attack
In early spring, a male flicker may drum on a metal stovepipe or other resonant surface to attract a mate and proclaim his territory. This doesn't damage your house. If your flicker is drilling for food, you'd better check for carpenter ants or other insects! A flicker may also be excavating a nest
Mar 11, 2021
Creating an Inviting Habitat
Bird feeders and birdbaths are great ways to attract birds to your yard, but they aren’t the only ways to entice our feathered friends. Planting an area densely with native shrubs, trees, and other vegetation can create a natural look that some birds are more likely to feel at home in because it
Mar 10, 2021
Everybody Knows a Mallard
Mallards are found virtually everywhere there is open water, from city parks and subalpine lakes to sheltered bays and estuaries along the coasts. In their breeding plumage, male Mallards are avian dandies. The male's primary goal is to attract a mate and defend the breeding territory. The female's
Mar 09, 2021
Mockingbirds Mimic Frogs
The avian world is full of mimicry artists, but Northern Mockingbirds take it to a new level. Not only can they imitate other birds, they can mimic frogs and toads! Their performances are so convincing it’s hard to tell frog from bird. It’s still unknown how this benefits mockingbirds, but
Mar 08, 2021
The Red-bellied Woodpecker and Its Curious Name
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are bold, conspicuous, and vocal, thriving in rural and urban areas east of the Mississippi. Like most woodpeckers, Red-bellieds eat lots of insects. But they also like nuts, berries, and seeds. They can be attracted to back yards with suet cakes, berry bushes, or even a cut
Mar 07, 2021
Prairie Warblers - An Early Successional Species
Despite their name, Prairie Warblers nest in tree farms of recently planted pines, in fields overgrown with scattered shrubs, and in clearings under power lines. Biologists call these “early successional” habitats. They’re characterized by plants that are the first to return to land altered by
Mar 06, 2021
Robins and Berries in Winter
It's mid-winter, and a passing flock of robins suddenly drops out of the sky. A moment ago, the yard was empty of birds, but now it's full. They settle in a bush laden with fruits (like this hawthorne). When the robins pass over a fruiting shrub, those red berries signal like a neon sign on a
Mar 05, 2021
Feathered Females in Charge
Male birds are often the larger, flashier sex that courts choosy females, who in turn raise their chicks. But not always. Female phalaropes -- like this Wilson's Phalarope -- challenge each other over territories in which to house a cluster of males half their size. And the males do all the
Mar 04, 2021
The Crafty American Crow
Crows. Large, black, noisy. The raucous birds of the neighborhood. Some people love them; others aren't so sure. American Crows are crafty and resourceful. Crows have adapted to our modern world. For one thing, they, too have a taste for fast food. Watch for crows at your local fast food joint. They
Mar 03, 2021
Spark Bird: Olivia Wang and the Sky Dancers
When Olivia Wang was in college, she did field work with Northern Harriers. She remembers the first time she saw a male doing a courtship display known as sky dancing: “It's just all these aerial acrobatics and loops and dives. And it was just… breathtaking to watch — and it still is every time I
Mar 02, 2021
Red-tailed Hawk, Bulky Bird
The Red-tailed Hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America. Red-tails often perch on fence posts in rural areas or even atop lights along the roadway. Watch for a large, bulky, football-shaped bird with a small dark head and a rusty-red tail. These hawks visit open fields to feast
Mar 01, 2021
Spring Brings New Bird Songs
All winter long, our neighborhood House Finches--like this one--have called to one another with their distinctive, sweet cheeps. And our resident Song Sparrows, with calls that sound like a tiny barking dog. But as the days grow longer in late winter, the lengthening light helps trigger a bird's
Feb 28, 2021
The Vulture's Iron Stomach
Circling silently above the earth on broad, black wings, vultures need little introduction. We know them as nature's clean-up crew, dining on dead and decaying animals. A unique range of adaptations allows vultures such as this Black Vulture to feast on food that’s off limits for many other
Feb 27, 2021
Here Come the Barred Owls
The emphatic hoots of a pair of Barred Owls resonate in the still of a winter's night. Like many owls, Barred Owls initiate their vocal courtship in winter. And they're among the most vocal. These owls have more than a dozen calls, ranging from a "siren call" to a "wail" to a wonderfully
Feb 26, 2021
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
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