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Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Willow Flycatchers nest across the northern two-thirds of the U.S. and southernmost Canada. A subspecies, known as the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, nests in the Southwest, as far east as Texas. The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher was listed as endangered in 1995. It's just one of 300 bird... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Northern Cardinal - Meet the Cardinal

Is there any doubt about the identity of America's best known red bird? Surely it's the cardinal or, as you'll find it in a bird book, the Northern Cardinal. The beautiful bird seen on so many bird feeders takes its name from the cardinals found in the Vatican, whose hats and robes are red. Only... read more »

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Bonaparte's Gull Chorus-line

Small, tern-like Bonaparte's Gulls often form a chorus-line at the water's edge. Side by side, in half an inch of water, they stomp their feet as fast as they can. Under this pummeling, a smorgasbord of shrimp is stirred up for the gulls to harvest. Is this a learned behavior, or were these gulls... read more »

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Happy Birthday, Roger Tory Peterson

August 28th is the birth anniversary of Roger Tory Peterson. He was born in 1908 and died in 1996. RTP, as he was known, wrote A Field Guide to the Birds. His favorite bird? The King Penguin. He explains his fascination with birds: "...They are attractive, they sound off with spirit, and they can... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Grassland Meander

In summer, the grasslands of southern Saskatchewan resound with bird song. This Bobolink is among the birds that combine their voices in a rich, ringing chorus. Through these grasslands flows the Frenchman River, twisting and looping — the epitome of a meandering river. The southern reaches of... read more »

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Burrowing Owls Hiss Like a Rattlesnake!

Despite its name, the Burrowing Owl doesn’t do much digging. It’s better known for its hair-raising hiss, which may have evolved to mimic the warning of a cornered rattlesnake. The sonic threat of a venomous reptile could be just enough to warn away most unwanted visitors from the owl’s nest... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting, science, sound

A Vast Unseen Migration

During late summer, these Sooty Shearwaters will join a vast migration, when millions of seabirds fly over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Jaegers that nested on the Arctic tundra are flying south to tropical oceans. Arctic Terns and skuas make an epic journey to Antarctic waters. Shearwaters in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Flightless Birds: Evolving the Inability to Fly

The ability to fly seems to define birds. But there are more than 50 species of flightless birds throughout the world — from the Ostrich and Kiwi to flightless rails, ducks, and this Humboldt Penguin. Why did they evolve the inability to fly? Many dwelt on islands. Others evolved until they were... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

The Barred Owl Calls

Barred Owls are very territorial, and they don't migrate. Solitary calls from a male in early spring probably mean that he has not attracted a mate. In May and June, he continues to hoot, though less frequently. By summer, breeding season has passed. Maybe this solitary Barred Owl is what some... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Match Birds with Their Habitats

Particular birds are tied to particular habitats. An American Bittern calls from a freshwater marsh. Wild Turkeys like open woods, with fields and clearings. The House Wren favors gardens, hedgerows, and brushy woods. This Red Knot feeds on beaches and mudflats. The Mourning Dove likes brushy,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization
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