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Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

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American Robin, Valiant Challenger

The male American Robin - fiercely territorial - belts out its distinctive cheery song to defend its breeding territory from invasion by other robins. Sometimes, the robin sees its own reflection as an interloper and challenges the “invader” over and over, even to the point of exhaustion or... read more »

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Birds and Baseball

At the crack of the bat, a Blue Jay flies toward first and glides around the base. Deep in left field, an Oriole pounces on the ball. He wings the ball toward second, where a fellow Oriole snares it on a hop - just as the swift Blue Jay slides toward the base in a cloud of red dust. Ahh, summer... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sports

Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

The annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 12-15, 2016, is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Birdwatchers across the country count birds and then report the numbers on-line. Although it may seem that crows are everywhere, the Northern Cardinal is reported on the most lists nearly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, citizen science, science

Listeners' Stories: Cardinal and Vireo

BirdNote listener, Betsy MacGregor, talks about finding solace in the company of birds. First a bird of the eastern US, a Northern Cardinal, and then a Hutton's Vireo, a bird of the West. The cardinal creates its pure whistle by producing sound in its left and right bronchial tubes simultaneously... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  listener story

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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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... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

What's Your State Bird?

All states have an official bird, usually one that's associated with its particular region. Many state birds are quite common, although Hawaii's chosen bird, the Nene, a type of goose, is endangered. The bird chosen by the most states — seven — is the Northern Cardinal, followed by the Western... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history

Vernal Equinox - East

This Carolina Wren doesn't know the precise instant of the vernal equinox of course. But the wren senses the growing hours of daylight through a surge of hormones, which tell it it's time to sing. Both science and folklore tie Spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Feisty Cardinal

You may not have seen a Northern Cardinal in the wild, but you've probably seen one on holiday cards or the cover of a bird book. During spring breeding season, biologist Eric Lind and his team capture and band birds at Constitution Marsh on the east side of the Hudson River. For eight years in a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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. Help BirdNote educate and inspire more people! Make a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching by ear, vocalization

The Big Thicket - America's Ark

Tucked away in southeast Texas is one of the most remarkable enclaves of nature. Known as The Big Thicket, this region is home to ten different ecosystems, including cypress bayous, arid sandylands, palmetto thickets, pine forests, marshes, and grasslands. The variety of natural landscapes... read more »

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The Birds of Lake Wobegon

It’s late August, and BirdNote is imagining the bird life at Garrison Keillor’s mythical Lake Wobegon. The loons are now quiet. And the Purple Martins that nested outside the Chatterbox Café? They’re headed for South America. Even the Orchard Orioles - like the pair seen here (female L, male R) -... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, language

"Thanks for Making Us Play Outside!"

As a young boy, David Sibley often explored the outdoors with his father. He recalls turning over logs to look for mole crickets, identifying plants, and watching for birds. We asked David for ways to encourage children to connect with nature: “My advice to other parents is just to get outdoors,”... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Beak Meets Seed

Birds like finches, chickadees and this Northern Cardinal love sunflower seeds, but each species uses a different strategy to extract the meat. When a finch plucks a sunflower seed from the feeder, it uses its tongue to maneuver the seed lengthwise into a groove on its beak. As it closes its beak... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdfeeding, citizen science, science
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