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language

What Do You Call a Group of BirdNote Listeners?

We recently ran a show about collective nouns for groups of birds, A Murder, A Party, A Stare, Or a Siege. At the end, we asked what a group of BirdNote listeners might be called. We asked -- and you answered! Here are some of the suggestions.LisaP and JoeMcA had the same idea. They told us a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, language

The Swath Uncut

We might not always realize it, but our lives are intertwined with the lives of birds. Sometimes in subtle ways, and sometimes directly. Poet Kevin Black explores that relationship in A Swath Uncut, about a Canadian farmer who once depended on the geese he could hunt to feed his family, and who... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language, reflection

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

Shakespeare's Lark and Nightingale with Rod Molzahn

Birds play important roles in many of Shakespeare’s plays. In Romeo and Juliet, the Lark sings at dawn and the Nightingale’s song fills the evening. At a moment of great peril, the Lark warns the lovers their time is short. Both the Skylark and the Nightingale are nondescript birds – but their... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language, vocalization

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... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language

The Eagle Eye

The eye of an eagle is one of the most sensitive of any animal, and may weigh more than the eagle's brain. The secret to the exceptional vision lies in its retina. The density of rods and cones within a raptor's eye may be five times that of a human's. As the Golden Eagle rides hot-air thermals... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight, language, science

As the Crow Flies

Traveling "as the crow flies," eating "like a bird," and being "free as a bird" are just a few of the sayings we use to describe everyday human actions and feelings. But these often don't take into account the birds' real activities, relative to their size.Sign up now for the BirdNote Weekly... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language

Lame Duck

"Lame duck" is probably a very old term, from before there even was a Congress of the United States. In 1772, an Edinburgh newspaper reported that many people had gone broke in the London stock market (Exchange Alley), and that "Only one lame duck waddled out of the Alley." In 19th century... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, language

A Little Bird Told Me

Sometimes, when we know something just too good to keep secret - but don't want to reveal the source - we say: "A little bird told me..." Where did this come from? The consensus is that the saying springs from Ecclesiastes: "Even in your thought, do not curse the king, nor in your bedchamber... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  language

Birds on the Menu!

You're one lucky duck to have landed at our little diner. This is no fly-by-night joint. May we start you with a drink - a swallow of Old Crow or Wild Turkey, perhaps? You're just in time for the early-bird specials, when toucan eat for the price of one. The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  humor, language

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