By BirdNote

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Reviews: 4

 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.

Episode Date
Bald Eagles' Daredevil Cartwheel Flight

Two eagles locking talons high above the ground might look like they’re risking injury, but it’s a normal courtship behavior called the “cartwheel display.” Fully entangled, the two birds begin spinning to the earth, disengaging just before they smack the ground. Their clasp could last for hours. At last, the eagles unlock talons and fly off. Rival adults sometimes perform the same flight. Learn more at

Jul 30, 2021
Pterodactyls and Birds

Pterosaurs—the giant, leathery flying creatures of the age of the dinosaurs—were giant reptiles, NOT dinosaurs. The pterosaurs had slim bodies and thin-walled, lightweight bones, ideal for flying. They thrived for 160 million years, passing into history after the same asteroid strike that finished off the large dinosaurs. Today’s birds are modern-day dinosaurs, descended from creatures similar to the terrifying T-Rex. Learn more at

Jul 29, 2021
Bringing Birds to the BeltLine

We tend to favor clean-cut lawns and non-native plants, but that’s a real problem for our ecosystems and the birds that live in them. Tenijah Hamilton, the host of Bring Birds Back podcast, joins volunteers planting native flowers and grasses on the Atlanta BeltLine, a converted “Rail Trail”. Trees Atlanta Co-Executive Director Greg Levine explains how native plants can reconnect wild animals to urban areas. Learn more at

Jul 28, 2021
July before Dawn - Aldo Leopold

The song of this Field Sparrow was the first bird song Aldo Leopold awoke to on his Wisconsin farm in the 1940s. Sadly, Field Sparrow populations are declining rapidly. You can learn more about "The State of the Birds" from National Audubon, and the plight of the Field Sparrow in particular. Learn more at

Jul 27, 2021
Vulturine Guineafowl

The Vulturine Guineafowl is a striking bird. It lacks feathers on its head and neck and has a blue breast with silvery plumes. The species has a complex social structure. Distinct groups, similar to high school cliques, mingle but don’t change membership. Such a multilevel society was previously only known in large-brained mammals such as primates, dolphins, and elephants. Learn more at

Jul 26, 2021
Birds' Early Warning Systems

A frantic cacophony of loud, rapid birdcalls tells other birds there’s a predator on the prowl. It’s called “mobbing” as birds clamor and dart — back and forth — at the threat. An ongoing study of mobbing and other bird warning behavior suggests that some birds listen in on the warnings of other birds. A wave of warning calls spreads from one hillside to another at more than 100 miles per hour. So vulnerable birds may be clued in to the movements of predators like this Northern Pygmy-Owl, giving them time to take cover. Learn more at

Jul 25, 2021
Barn Owls Let You Know

The structure and delicate softness of its feathers allow a Barn Owl to approach its prey almost without sound. The Barn Owl's ability to locate prey by sound, even when concealed by snow or leaves, is the most precise of any animal yet tested. This young Barn Owlet is about five weeks old and actually weighs more than its parents. During and after the fledging period, it will gradually lose weight, as it learns to hunt for itself. Be sure to watch the video of an owl hunting. Learn more at

Jul 24, 2021
A Different Drumming

The drumming of the male Ruffed Grouse is one of the most evocative sounds of the North American forest. Familiar as these accelerating burps are to hunters and hikers, the origin of this bizarre sound was long a mystery. It took the advent of wildlife cinematography to solve the riddle. In the spring of 1929, Cornell University’s Arthur A. Allen filmed a drumming Ruffed Grouse. Frame-by-frame analysis showed the bird’s wings were striking nothing but air — hard and fast enough to produce popping sounds that ran together into the whirring drum. Learn more at

Jul 23, 2021
Birds on the Polar Bears’ Menu

Polar bears use Arctic sea ice to hunt seals, but a warming Arctic means the bears have to return to land earlier in the year. Their arrival coincides with droves of birds sitting on eggs. A single clutch of eggs isn’t enough to satisfy a bear, so they go from nest to nest, sometimes eating their way through a colony. Scientists designed a bear-proof nest case to protect Black Guillemot eggs. Learn more at

Jul 22, 2021
American Robin Babies Afoot

After hatching, baby robins spend up to 15 days in the nest. By July, many young American Robins have left the nest, or fledged. But they aren't ready to make it entirely on their own yet, and they follow their parents around, learning to fend for themselves. Outside of the breeding season, robins tend to form large flocks, often feeding on berries and fruits. Learn more at

Jul 21, 2021
The Tui of New Zealand

The Tui is one of New Zealand’s most remarkable birds, intelligent and with iridescent feathers. Its down-curved beak fits perfectly into native flowers. But the Tui is best known for its voice. Each Tui’s complex song is slightly different, a colorful mix of musical notes and offbeat sounds. It’s one of the few birds that can imitate human speech — and even accents. Learn more at

Jul 20, 2021
Who Was That Masked Bird?

Football and baseball players sometimes wear eye black to reduce glare from the sun or stadium lights. According to scientists, some birds — including many shrikes, like this Northern Shrike — have evolved a band of black feathers across their eyes that helps in the same way. The black markings may also help the birds hunt and fool predators. Learn more at

Jul 19, 2021
Birds in Summer - The Heat of the Day

Just a few weeks past the solstice, and the real heat of summer is yet to come. Some shorebirds are already on their way south, but most songbirds will be here for a while longer. What's the best time of day to look for them? Many birds are most active in the early morning, taking advantage of the abundance of insects at that hour. Midday heat sends people inside, and birds take a siesta, too. And then, both birds and bugs rev up again in the late afternoon. But hummingbirds and also gulls — including this Glaucous-winged Gull — forage all day long! Learn more at

Jul 18, 2021
Towhees' Distractive Plumage

Both this Eastern Towhee and the Spotted Towhee of the West sport a black or dark brown hood and back. And when they fly, their tails flash white. When a hawk gives chase, the towhee's flashing tail-feathers draw the predator's attention. Momentarily distracted, the hawk may come up with just a couple of tail feathers — as the towhee escapes into the underbrush. So if you see a towhee missing a couple of tail feathers, it may be that the flash of white — the distractive plumage — saved its life. Learn more at

Jul 17, 2021
What Makes an Efficient Flying Bird?

Every bird species uses its wings a little differently, and some are specialized for highly efficient flight. But that means going without other abilities. Swallows and hummingbirds capture their food on the wing, but they can’t walk. Swifts, which are acrobatic in the air, can’t even perch. Yet they dazzle with the maneuverability made possible by their aerodynamic bodies. Learn more at

Jul 16, 2021
Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrikes are found across much of the United States in open country, like pasture and sagebrush. Male shrikes are well known for impaling their prey on thorns, creating a larder that may help impress potential mates. But pesticides and the loss of habitat to residential and commercial uses have reduced shrike populations. Conservation efforts are under way, such as allowing brush to grow along fence-lines, leaving small trees and shrubs on the roadside, and reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides. Learn more at

Jul 15, 2021
Giving Your Cat a Great Life Indoors

Outdoor cats kill billions of birds each year in North America — and they live much shorter lives than indoor cats. But life as an indoor cat doesn’t have to be boring. On Bring Birds Back podcast, cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy discusses how just 15 minutes of creative play with your cat can make a huge difference. Plus, letting cats watch birds through the window can act as “Cat TV.” Learn more at

Jul 14, 2021
A Fascination with Cranes, With George Archibald

George Archibald has devoted his life to the conservation of cranes, including the Whooping Crane pictured here. His inspiration? At the age of eight, George heard a radio broadcast about Whooping Cranes at school. He says, “. . . it was this drama of a male and female crane who’d flown the gauntlet to get 2,700 miles from Texas to their breeding ground . . . I never forgot it!” Learn more at

Jul 13, 2021
Play and Brain Size

Many birds that play do it alone by swinging, sliding, or rolling around. Some species interact with objects, like dropping a stone and picking it up again. But a select few birds – like these crows – play with other members of their species. Scientists call this social play. It appears to have implications for the evolution of brain size among birds as well as our own species. Learn more at

Jul 12, 2021
Puffins - Clowns of the Sea

Puffins are icons of the seabird world. With clown-like faces and huge, multicolored bills, they stand upright on sea cliffs along the northern oceans. Tufted Puffins nest on islands and rough coastlines, from the Channel Islands of Southern California across the north Pacific to Siberia. The Atlantic Puffin, like this one, breeds in the North Atlantic. Be sure to watch a video by Project Puffin, off the coast of Maine. Learn more at

Jul 11, 2021
Okefenokee Swamp and Prothonotary Warbler

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was set aside to protect the fabled Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia and Florida. Tall cypress trees and Spanish moss give the swamp a prehistoric appearance. The Prothonotary Warbler is one of the most striking of the swamp’s denizens. Having wintered in the West Indies, a male might return to the Okefenokee and establish a breeding territory. Because it lives down in the realm of trunks and branches rather than up in the leaves, the Prothonotary has adopted an unusual nesting habit for a warbler: it nests in natural crevices or old Downy Woodpecker holes! Learn more at

Jul 10, 2021
Murres' Swimming Migration - With Bob Boekelheide

When we think of avian migration, we generally think of birds in flight. But Common Murres migrate north by swimming. Some Pacific Coast murres paddle north to the sheltered bays of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to feed on herring and other small fish. During their ocean migration, the adult male murres molt their flight feathers and — like the chicks they shepherd — cannot fly. Heading north, they live on the sea. Imagine! A journey that spans two months and may cover hundreds of miles. Learn more at

Jul 09, 2021
The Ferocious Feet of the Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owls excel at nocturnal hunting, thanks to their acute senses and stealth — but their feet let them secure squirming prey. The outermost of their four toes can rotate forward or backward, an advantage that most other birds of prey lack, letting them capture animals as large as raccoons. A four-pound owl can take flight with six pounds of prey. Learn more at

Jul 08, 2021
Peatlands - Maine's Sunkhaze Meadows Refuge

The habitats that comprise Sunkhaze Meadows Refuge in central Maine — including peat bogs, streamside meadows, shrub thickets, cedar swamps, and maple forests — are rich with bird life, like this Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. You’ll also find Bobolinks and more than 20 kinds of warblers during the summer months. The flycatchers return to Sunkhaze Meadows annually from Panama, while Bobolinks migrate to Maine from as far as Bolivia. Learn more at

Jul 07, 2021
Dove or Pigeon?

The word “dove” might make you think of an elegant bird symbolizing peace, while the word “pigeon” might bring up images of rowdy flocks of city birds. But there’s no formal distinction between doves and pigeons, only a linguistic one. In many languages, the birds are one and the same. The dove and pigeon family includes some of the most beautiful birds in the world. Learn more at

Jul 06, 2021
Green Jays and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Bird life is abundant on the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in southern Texas. This large stretch of Tamaulipan brushland was preserved for its wildlife, including many species found nowhere else in the United States. One of the special birds on this refuge is the Green Jay. These jays and other birds persist in Texas because of active conservation of habitat along the Rio Grande. A series of refuges there -- Santa Ana, the World Birding Center, and others -- provides a wildlife corridor that allows birds and other animals to move up and down the river, assuring their survival in the midst of farmland. Learn more at

Jul 05, 2021
Manakins Make Their Own Fireworks

The White-bearded Manakin lives in Trinidad and throughout much of South America. The males court females by snapping their wings with firecracker-like pops. A flurry of males flits rapidly back and forth from one slender, bare sapling to another, a foot above the ground. When the male spots the female nearby, he slides down an upright twig, his head held downward, wings whirling, white chin-feathers thrust out like a beard. Learn more at

Jul 04, 2021
David Sibley - Sketching and Painting Impressions

David Sibley’s paintings connect millions of people with the lives of birds. His talent in observing and portraying birds culminated in The Sibley Guide to Birds. Sibley describes how he learned to sketch and illustrate birds such as this Townsend’s Warbler: “I spent years in the field, just traveling and birding and sketching,” he says. “ . . . The drawing was so important to me, that there was never any question in my mind of continuing to paint the birds. It’s how I study the birds.” Learn more at BirdNote .org.

Jul 03, 2021
Threatened Season 2 Trailer

The pilot season ofThreatened transported listeners to some of the most beautiful and remote places in North America — where birds are calling humans to take action. This season we expand our scope to consider new places and stories about the enduring connections between birds, people, and landscapes. 

Subscribe now, listen to the pilot season, and learn more at:

Jul 02, 2021
Experience Wildness with Adrian Dorst

In a wild place on the west coast of Vancouver Island, author, photographer, and birdwatcher, Adrian Dorst, tells of a time he witnessed fifty or sixty thousand migrating Western Sandpipers: “It looked like snow – except that the snow was drifting upwards! It was just an amazing sight – so many birds in the air. I mean it’s quite overwhelming to try to estimate, when there are so many birds in the air at once. But based on doing bird counts here for so many years, that’s the figure that we came up with ... fifty or sixty thousand. Quite a sight!” Learn more at

Jul 02, 2021
Birdsong on the Talus

The ringing notes of a Rock Wren’s song reverberate across a steep, rocky slope in the American West. The Rock Wren is most at home in piles of rock rubble at the foot of cliffs, a life zone known as a talus slope. These wrens find shelter, safe nesting, and a good supply of insects in the crevices among the talus. They often share the slope with birds such as Say’s Phoebe and the sweet singing Canyon Wren. Venture high enough in the western mountains, above tree level into the alpine zone, and you’ll find talus slopes interspersed with bits of low tundra – home to one of the continent’s most reclusive birds, the White-tailed Ptarmigan. Learn more at

Jul 01, 2021
Catios - The Best of Both Worlds

Cats love the outdoors, but they’re also one of the biggest threats to birds — killing as many as four billion a year in North America. Outdoor cats also live much shorter lives. Cynthia Chomos designed a cat patio or “catio” so that everyone can win. The enclosed outdoor space keeps both cats and birds safe.

Learn more on BirdNote’s new podcast, Bring Birds Back.

Jun 30, 2021
Blackbirds' Strange Music

Blackbird songs have a strange music. The Red-winged Blackbird can be heard in nearly every marsh on the continent — bold, brassy, and piercing. The songs may not seem musical, but they definitely get your attention. Brewer’s Blackbirds, which live in open habitats like farms and grasslands, make a wet, slap-in-the-face sound. The combined voices of Tricolored Blackbirds — like this one in a California marsh — sound like a snarling catfight. Another Western bird, the Yellow-headed Blackbird, makes raucous growls, wails, and whistles. Learn more at

Jun 29, 2021
Greater Ani

Greater Anis make communal nests in which two or more pairs share responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean they cooperate with their neighbors. Researchers in Panama captured anis on camera tossing fake eggs out of artificial nests. Although scientists haven’t yet seen anis destroy real nests, the evidence suggests that anis engage in neighborhood disputes. Learn more at

Jun 28, 2021
The New Jersey Pine Barrens

In southern New Jersey lies a region known as the Pine Barrens, home to many birds, including this Great Crested Flycatcher. With broad tracts of pine forest interspersed with grassland and shrubland, the Pine Barrens remain one of the largest expanses of green in the Northeast, supporting a diversity of plants and animals. Early European settlers tried farming here, but the sandy, acidic soil wasn’t suited to their traditional crops. Upland Sandpipers and Prairie Warblers nest here. Agricultural barrenness has saved the Pine Barrens and its native habitats. If its soils grew traditional crops, it would have – centuries ago – disappeared beneath the plow. Learn more at

Jun 27, 2021
Three Buntings - Indigo, Lazuli, and Painted

Each spring and summer, Indigo Buntings sing their buzzy, jumbled songs from brushy edges throughout the Eastern US. West of the Rockies, a different bunting sings his song. Named for the gemstone lapis lazuli, a male Lazuli Bunting shimmers an iridescent azure. He looks as if he might have been fashioned by a maker of Navajo jewelry. Yet another bunting sings atop thickets and shrubs in the Southeast and south-central US – the Painted Bunting, perhaps one of the most colorful birds in all of North America. Enjoy the bunting singing in your neck of the woods this summer, for this fall, they’ll all be gone to the tropics until next spring. Learn more at

Jun 26, 2021
Common Murres - Nature's Laugh Track

The raucous laughter of the Common Murre rings out from a nesting colony, high on a narrow ledge on a sea cliff. Precarious as their nest site is, Common Murres nest by the thousands along the Pacific Coast, perhaps millions north along the Bering Sea. Their eggs are pointed at one end and blunt at the other, so they spin on the ledge rather than tumbling into the sea. Common Murres stand nearly a foot and a half tall. With legs set far back on their bodies, they look much like the northwestern equivalent of penguins of the Southern Hemisphere. Learn more at

Jun 25, 2021
House Wren - Little Brown Dynamo

House Wrens dart from perch to perch and sing almost nonstop. They’re one of the most thoroughly studied songbird species. House Wrens nest in cavities, including backyard nest boxes. Most migrate south in late summer. The male House Wren sometimes builds multiple nests, allowing his mate to choose her favorite and put her finishing touches on it. Learn more at

Jun 24, 2021
Urban Cooper's Hawks

Next time you’re in the city, look up. When pigeons are wheeling, you might just see a different bird in pursuit. The Cooper’s Hawk, once known as the “chicken hawk,” used to be in steep decline due to hunting and the effects of DDT on breeding. Today, it’s the most abundant of the bird-eating raptors over much of North America, living even in the city. Males are smaller and often prey on Mourning Doves and other easy pickings at city parks. The bulkier females hunt pigeons, adding a dash of wildness and drama to the modern cityscape — in the form of pigeon feathers falling silently from the sky. Learn more at

Jun 23, 2021
Spark Bird: Kaeli Swift and the Rooftop Crows

When Dr. Kaeli Swift was in college, she became obsessed with the Corvid family of birds, which includes crows, ravens and jays. She decided to study whether crows learn to recognize certain human faces as friendly. She tried putting a mask on a mannequin holding peanuts, but the crows spotted the trick right away. Swift had to find a creative solution. Learn more at

Jun 22, 2021
Megapodes - Mound-Builders

There’s a group of birds that lay their eggs underground — in geothermally heated burrows, or warm sands, or even mounds of organic material warmed by the heat of decomposition. These megapodes or mound-builders — like this Australian Brushturkey — are found in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby

Jun 21, 2021
Sungrebe: Baby on Board

Birds have developed many strategies for protecting their young. But only one species can tuck its chicks into pouches under its wings, then fly the young to safety. It’s the Sungrebe of Central and South America. Despite the name, they are not closely related to grebes. Sungrebes swim and dive on

Jun 20, 2021
Meadowlarks and Grasslands

The clear, whistled music of the Eastern Meadowlark (seen here) is the unmistakable anthem of eastern North America's farmlands and open country. The Western Meadowlark and its sweet, liquid notes epitomize the natural expanses of the American West. Sadly, birds of such grassy habitats are among the

Jun 19, 2021
Voices and Vocabularies: House Finch or Purple Finch

In parts of the United States, House Finches overlap with similar-looking Purple Finches. Their distinct songs help us sort them out. House Finch songs are jumbled and have a sharp, buzzy note — especially during the breeding season. Purple Finches’ songs, on the other hand, are smoother and lack

Jun 18, 2021
Eavesdropping on Babies

Around this time of year, many baby birds are begging their parents for food. A Hairy Woodpecker chick calls from its nest carved deep within a dying tree. A Great Horned Owl juvenile reminds his parents "Hey! I'm over here! Feed me!" Moving from forest to water, we find this American Coot chick

Jun 17, 2021
Helping Birds See Windows

As many as a billion birds in North America die from window collisions each year, and the biggest culprit is low-rise, residential buildings. Tenijah Hamilton, the host of Bring Birds Back podcast, spoke to Josh Morris of Seattle Audubon about what people can do to help birds spot the hazard

Jun 16, 2021
The Baltimore Oriole

Not all blackbirds are mostly black. This Baltimore Oriole is orange! It’s named after Sir George Calvert, First Lord of Baltimore, whose coat-of-arms carried a gold and black design. In spring and summer, you may see these orioles in the Midwest and eastern US, lighting up the trees where they nest

Jun 15, 2021
The Value of a Dust Bath

It might sound strange, but dirt helps birds scrub themselves clean. Birds of all sizes (like the Eurasian Skylark seen here) often scrape a depression in the ground and flick dirt onto their bodies, shimmying to shake it off. Experiments showed that birds use dust to prevent oils from building up

Jun 14, 2021
The Pelicans of Castle Pinckney

Originally built as a fortress and military storehouse, Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, bore witness to the first shots of the Civil War. But today — just outside the crumbling walls that once served as a prisoner-of-war camp — anywhere from half a dozen to hundreds of Brown

Jun 13, 2021
How Nestlings Leave the Nest

Young birds leave their nests in different ways. Some shuffle tentatively along the nearest branch and practice flapping their wings, while others take the "big leap." Which path they take depends upon their species and the location of the nest. Young Great Horned Owls clamber out of the nest to

Jun 12, 2021

Sapsuckers drill small holes in the bark of favored trees, then return again and again to eat the sap that flows out. And hummingbirds, kinglets, and warblers come to the sap wells to eat the insects trapped in the sap. Although a sapsucker - like this Red-breasted Sapsucker - may suck a tree's

Jun 11, 2021
The Baddest Birds on the Block

Meet three of the most fearsome predatory birds. The Northern Goshawk is a silver blur when it rockets toward an unsuspecting grouse. The Brown Snake-Eagle snatches six-foot cobras off the ground. And the Eurasian Eagle-Owl preys on animals as large as deer fawns.

Jun 10, 2021
Robins Are Very Choosy Nesters

When scientists looked at climate data for more than 8,500 robins’ nests in the US, they found that robins will nest only if the mean noon temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. But even more critical is relative humidity: it needs to be around 50 percent in the middle of the day. What’s so

Jun 09, 2021
How to Count Three Billion Birds

A study in 2019 found that North American bird populations had declined by three billion birds in the past 50 years. Tenijah Hamilton, the host of Bring Birds Back podcast, talked to biostatistician Adam C. Smith about how scientists arrived at this shocking number. The hard work of volunteers

Jun 08, 2021
Great-tailed Grackles on the Move

The range and abundance of the Great-tailed Grackle have expanded significantly since 1900, when the species barely reached Texas from Mexico. One winter roost of grackles in South Texas was pegged at 500,000 birds! Great-tailed Grackles can present pest management problems for agriculture and

Jun 07, 2021
Choosing Where to Nest

When it comes to building a house, one of the first decisions is where to put it. The same is true for birds. It's called "nest site selection." And one thing most birds have in common? The female chooses the site. A robin builds its nest on top of a stout branch. This Warbling Vireo hangs its nest

Jun 06, 2021
Great Horned Owl - Hungry Young

Great Horned Owls are found in more varied habitats than any other owl in North America. These owls often nest in trees, but may also nest on cliffs in arid areas far from trees. They nest early in the year, even in the dead of winter. The young hatch a month later, vocalizing inside the egg a few

Jun 05, 2021
Baby Birds Move Out of the Nest

After they leave the nest but before they take flight, many baby birds - especially robins and flickers - spend time on or near the ground. If you see such a baby bird, and your first thought is to "rescue" it, the better thing to do is let it be. Protect it from cats. Then watch from a distance, to

Jun 04, 2021
How Hummingbirds Got Their Sweet Tooth

All birds lack the typical gene for detecting sweetness, but hummingbirds avidly seek out sugary nectar. It turns out that evolution has transformed hummers’ taste receptors. Mutations to their savory taste receptor gene allowed the receptor to respond to sucrose and other sugars. Scientists haven’t

Jun 03, 2021

Washington Irving called the Bobolink "the happiest bird of our spring...he rises and sinks with the breeze, pours forth a succession of rich tinkling notes ..." Bobolinks nest in hayfields and grasslands, returning north each spring, all the way from southern South America. Listen to more songs of

Jun 02, 2021
Celebrating Black Birders Week

This week is the second annual Black Birders Week. It was created in response to an incident in Central Park in New York City, where a Black birder was racially profiled and harassed. The week invites more Black folks to learn about birding, which has historically been very white. Tenijah Hamilton

Jun 01, 2021
Locating a Bird by Sound

To locate where a sound is coming from, we use time lag. A sound coming from the left is first detected by the left ear, then ever-so-slightly later by the right ear. But the ears of some small birds (like these Carolina Wrens) and insects are too close together for them to use time lag alone. So

May 31, 2021
The Ballet of the Grebes

When a pair of Western Grebes decides it’s time to mate, they call loudly and approach one another. Each bird curves, then straightens, its long neck gracefully. They then face each other, necks on the water’s surface, their bills flipping up drops of water. If attraction prevails, they rush

May 30, 2021
Tufted Titmouse - What's in a Name?

A Tufted Titmouse has just about everything you could ask for in a backyard bird. Petite and strikingly elegant, it’s as perky as a chickadee. In fact, it’s a cousin to the chickadee. And as it comes boldly to your seed or suet feeders, the Tufted Titmouse will even hang upside down like an acrobat

May 29, 2021
World of Warblers

May is the prime month across much of North America to celebrate the return of migratory birds from the tropics. Of all those coming back, it is the warblers that many birders eagerly await. And of the more than 50 species that brighten our spring, many gleam like precious stones. From the sky-blue

May 28, 2021
Ospreys Never Stop Building

Ospreys are remarkable nest builders. Many reuse their massive stick nests from the previous year, but continue tinkering with it once the nesting season begins. And the nest transforms along with the growing chicks. It’s bowl-shaped at first, corralling the young birds, but it gets flatter after

May 27, 2021
Listen for Tapping

Woodpeckers are our most familiar bird carpenters, but other birds also chip out nests in trees and wood structures. Nuthatches — like this Red-breasted Nuthatch — are exceptional wood carvers, with their chisel-like bills. Chickadees will peck into less dense wood, carrying out wood chips by the

May 26, 2021
Heid E. Erdrich - DNA Tribes

Ojibwe writer Heid E. Erdrich's poem DNA Tribes deals with her identity as a Native American woman and the call of the Red-eyed Vireo, which sounds like someone saying “Here I am, where are you?” [Hear more poetry by Erdrich and other contemporary writers on our podcast, BirdNote Presents]

May 25, 2021
Nesting Niches

American Robins (like this male seen here with its young), House Finches, and Song Sparrows may all nest within one small garden. By selecting different nesting strata, the species avoid competing for the same nesting sites. If you plant your garden in multiple layers – trees both short and tall

May 24, 2021
Red-Tailed Hawks - Adaptable Diners

Red-tailed Hawks are found year ‘round in a wide variety of natural landscapes, from meadows to forest edges, deserts, and canyons. One big reason we see Red-tailed Hawks in so many places is their remarkable adaptability as hunters. They vary their diet to what is locally abundant. So along the

May 23, 2021
Unique Chaparral

The dense cover of coastal chaparral supports many birds found nowhere else in the world, including this California Thrasher. The plant species are different, but the chaparral of California is much like shrubby coastal vegetation in southern Europe, South Africa, southern Australia, and Chile. All

May 22, 2021
Endangered Species Day

This Golden-cheeked Warbler nests only in a Central Texas woodland. Its small breeding range is ever more fragmented by residential development, and its numbers are in serious decline. Endangered Species Day was established by Congress to acknowledge the plight of this warbler and many other

May 21, 2021
The Songs of Desert Wrens

The Canyon Wren and Cactus Wren share common ancestry — and they’re close neighbors in the desert southwest. Yet their songs evolved along divergent acoustic lines. The rough trilled phrases of the Cactus Wren song pulse through the dense cactus, while the clear tones of the Canyon Wren echo off the

May 20, 2021
The Marsh Wren's Many Nests

Tiny Marsh Wrens live in wetlands, usually within cattails, reeds, or bulrushes. After choosing his territory, the male weaves up to 15 dome-shaped shells, lashing together cattails, grasses, or reeds. These are called "courting" nests. Then, sitting high atop a perch in the marsh, he sings

May 19, 2021
Flickers and Buffleheads

After a Northern Flicker carves out a nest cavity, chances are the birds will use the cavity for just one nesting season. But the cavity may have a prolonged career as a home for small owls, bluebirds, swallows, and other birds - including the Bufflehead. Buffleheads - like the family seen here -

May 18, 2021
From Egg-laying to Hatching and Beyond

Waterfowl like this Muscovy duckling spend up to 30 days in the egg, so they’re able to walk, swim, and feed themselves as soon as they hatch. We call these chicks precocial. By contrast, the chicks of most songbirds spend less time maturing in the egg. They must continue to develop in the nest

May 17, 2021
Shorebirds in Kansas - Oval Migration Pattern

Almost half of all migratory shorebirds nesting in North America migrate through the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in central Kansas. Almost all of the continent's Wilson's Phalaropes rest and refuel at the wetlands here. The birds fly a great oval route. In autumn, in the East, they head from

May 16, 2021
Swallows Return to Nest

Each spring, eight species of swallows — including this Barn Swallow — migrate north from the tropics to nest in North America. Tree Swallows and Purple Martins are especially dependent on man-made nestboxes. Tree Swallows nest over much of the continent, while Purple Martins are most prevalent east

May 15, 2021
Three Brown Thrushes

The Swainson's Thrush, the Hermit Thrush, and this Veery are small, brown birds, but their songs clearly distinguish them. The Swainson's Thrush announces its presence in early spring with subtle, limpid "whit" or "wink" sounds. Many rate it among the finest singers. A Veery's phrases tend downward

May 14, 2021
The Harsh Beauty of Grackle Songs

Ranging from metallic hisses to electronic yodels, sounds of grackles may not be music to our ears—but they have their own rough beauty, a distinctive, primal harshness. Grackle songs evolved to carry through their nesting habitats — dense marshes and brushy landscapes — where more lyrical notes and

May 13, 2021
Spring Birds Arrive in the Eastern Forest

May in an Eastern hardwood forest, and the chorus of spring birdsong is nearing its peak. The Carolina Wren, a year-round resident, has been singing since the end of winter. The resounding notes of this Ovenbird let us know it has returned safely from Belize, after a long flight across the Gulf of

May 12, 2021
China's Golden Age of Fossil Discovery

In the mid-1990s, a golden age of fossil discovery began in the Liaoning region of northeast China. The fossils date from 120 to 160 million years ago, when feathered dinosaurs and early birds were flourishing and differentiating. The signature fossil was the world’s first-known feathered dinosaur

May 11, 2021
Silly Willow Ptarmigan

Some bird songs leave us in admiration of their beauty, some with a sense of wonder at their complexity—and others are downright comical. As a maker of silly sounds, the male Willow Ptarmigan beats the Three Stooges hands down. But these sounds are no laughing matter. Where it nests in the shrubby

May 10, 2021
Just Whose Ducklings Are Those?

It’s spring, and a female duck swims across a pond with ducklings in tow. Some of the youngsters might not be her own. Wood Ducks and others may lay some of their eggs in other ducks’ nests — or in the nests of other kinds of ducks, like Common Mergansers and goldeneyes. Biologists call this nest

May 09, 2021
International Migratory Bird Laws

In May, we celebrate migratory birds, including this Common Yellowthroat. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 gave much needed protection to birds, especially migratory songbirds. In 1940, the US and 17 other countries throughout the Americas signed a pact to "protect and preserve - in their

May 08, 2021