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reflection

An Elegy to the Elephant Bird

Elephant BirdAepyornis maximusIn 1658, the French governor of Madagascar described a giant birddwelling in the island's remote reaches. Over ten feet tall,the bird weighed a thousand pounds and laid the biggest egg on record:over a foot long and equal in volume to seven ostrich eggs,180 chicken... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Where Birds Go to Die

Birds seem to be all around us. But we rarely come across those that have died. And why? When birds suffer from illness or injury, they often seek safe, secluded places — hidden from view and potential predators. So when death comes, a bird’s body is hidden. And it doesn’t persist for long.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

A Tale of Hummingbird Etiquette

Artist and writer Beth Surdut listens to ravens and has paddled with alligators in wild and scenic places. She also knows about proper etiquette when encountering the smallest, fastest bird in the desert...This story starts with bird droppings. But before I go any further, if you have a penny and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, reflection

Men Who Stay

BirdNote writer Todd Peterson reflects on his friend, a hunter, from Nebraska. Todd’s friend, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, has lost the urge to hunt. He sits in the duck blind, but he does not shoot . . . read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction, reflection

The Descent of Birdlore

How did Theodore Roosevelt develop his interest in birds? The chain of events may surprise you. As a budding birdwatcher, Roosevelt was influenced by John Bell, a New York City taxidermist. It turns out that Bell started watching birds 50 years earlier on a trip up the Missouri River with John... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology, reflection

Strange Thoughts, Strange Bird

Toucans, such as this Red-breasted Toucan, fascinate birders and non-birders alike. Imagine what it must have been like when European scientists laid eyes on a toucan for the first time. The bright feathers drew universal admiration. But the bill was another matter. Theories abounded about its... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, ornithology, reflection

Alex Chadwick at Big Bend — Vultures

Celebrating International Vulture Awareness Day, September 5, 2015 ... Veteran NPR reporter Alex Chadwick reflects on these amazing birds. In late summer 2014, Alex visited Big Bend National Park for BirdNote. During his trip, he got to know Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures — and some of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Noticing Birds in the Back Yard, With Denise Acsay

BirdNote asked listeners to tell us about the bird life around their homes. BirdNote’s Dominic Black met up with Denise Acsay — who lives on San Juan Island in Washington State — to learn more about Denise’s love of birds such as this Barred Owl. Denise says her favorite bird sounds are heard in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  listener story, reflection

Why I Fish

BirdNote writer and editor Todd Peterson recounts memories of wild places where he enjoyed fishing with his father, including the St. Joe River in the Bitterroot Mountains of northern Idaho and the Elk River near British Columbia’s wild border with Alberta. The call of a loon is among the sounds... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Why Should You Care About Birds?

Gordon Orians, BirdNote science advisor and blackbird expert, believes we should appreciate nature “simply because of its intrinsic wonder.” He says, “Often people would ask me, 'What good are blackbirds?’ and I would sometimes answer by saying, 'Well, what good is a symphony orchestra?' It turns... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, reflection, science

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