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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. Join us for daily two-minute stories about birds, the environment, and more.
 
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Ornithologist Drew Lanham visits a wetland that was once a rice plantation built and farmed by enslaved Black people. After the Civil War, many birds continued to rely on these wetlands. Now, biologists manage water levels in the former rice fields to support shorebirds, ducks, and rare species such as the Black Rail. Learn more at BirdNote.org.…
 
Music producer So Wylie began transforming bird calls and songs into musical “bird beats” during the pandemic. The first bird beat she made was inspired by Rocky, a Northern Saw-whet Owl that was found bundled up in the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2020. Since then, the Boreal Owl, Barn Owl and Eastern Screech-Owl have been featured in her …
 
Some migratory songbirds such as European Robins have special light-sensitive proteins called cryptochromes in their eyes. New research suggests how the cryptochromes could alter their behavior in the presence of magnetic fields, giving birds a visual cue for north and south. Other birds can navigate with the help of a mineral called magnetite in t…
 
The Common Murre is among the few species of birds that can "fly" under water. When above the water, the 18"-long murre must flap frantically to stay aloft. But beneath the waves, with its flipper-like wings partly extended, it is a streamlined, masterful swimmer. Common Murres, black and white torpedoes with feathers, chase down fish even several …
 
Collective nouns are a mixture of poetry, alliteration, and description. Victorians often made up creative names for groups of birds, as a parlor game. Many names bring a vision of the birds instantly to mind. How about this spring of teal? These are Green-winged Teal. So what would a bunch of BirdNote listeners be called? A gaggle? A flock? A watc…
 
No bird is better adapted for climbing up a tree trunk than a woodpecker. The foot of this Pileated Woodpecker is ideal for clinging, and its relatively short legs allow it to anchor itself securely. When traveling upward, the woodpecker’s a master. But hitching down? Not so much — usually they will fly. Nuthatches, however, can easily go up and do…
 
On Block Island, 11 square miles of land off the coast of Rhode Island, Kim Gaffett catches birds and puts metal bands on their legs to track them. This has helped reveal how the birds use their island layovers. Having crossed the ocean without eating or drinking, birds need stopover sites like Block Island to eat and refuel for the rest of their j…
 
Tim Arnold leads the Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers in keeping Tybee Island, Georgia, free of plastic pollution and other trash. His favorite bird is the Brown Pelican. Its bulky, awkward appearance contrasts with its agility as it dives for fish. But Arnold worries that pelicans are ingesting microplastics as they feed. On Bring Birds Back podcast, …
 
Yellow-eyed Juncos sometimes make a migration of sorts — not from north to south, but from the high mountains to the lowlands or the other way around. It’s called altitudinal migration. In the warm summer months, some Yellow-eyed Juncos prefer to nest at higher elevations, while in winter, the scarcity of food pushes them back down to the valleys. …
 
On June 23, 2000, the "MV Treasure" iron ore tanker sank off the coast of South Africa, covering 19,000 adult African Penguins in oil. Fortunately, thousands of volunteers arrived to help. The oily birds were moved to Cape Town to be cleaned. Another 19,500 penguins that escaped the oil were released at sea, 600 miles to the east. It took those bir…
 
A male Buff-breasted Sandpiper courts a female on their breeding grounds far north of the Arctic Circle. He raises his wings, flashing their silvery-white undersides, as he sings his clicking serenade. These birds spend much of the year on grasslands in Argentina, migrating to the Arctic in late spring. In the lower 48, September is a good time to …
 
Five of Zimbabwe’s six vulture species are endangered. After poachers kill an elephant or other large animal by poisoning, vultures often die from eating the poisoned meat. Organizations such as BirdLife Zimbabwe are helping to form local groups that advocate for the conservation of vultures, which serve an important ecological role. Hear more abou…
 
Parrots are among the smartest of birds. But are they clever enough to know each other by name? Research conducted by ornithologist Karl Berg suggests the answer might be yes. Berg’s studies of Green-rumped Parrotlets — such as the one pictured here — indicate that every parrot in a family flock has a distinct vocal signature learned from its paren…
 
During migration, some birds change orientation, often by a full 180 degrees, and travel almost the same distance — but in the opposite direction — as the rest of their species. The phenomenon is called misorientation. First-year birds are particularly susceptible. Many vagrant birds never find their way back on course, but some do, getting more co…
 
The stars appear to rotate in the sky, raising the question of how birds can use stars to navigate during migration. Ornithologist Stephen Emlen brought Indigo Buntings to a planetarium, tracking their movements as the simulated night sky changed above them. The buntings oriented themselves using star patterns that appear to rotate the least — espe…
 
These Emperor Penguins feed on fish and squid in the icy ocean. Getting into the sea is easy, but getting out is another story. How does a penguin haul its plump, 80-pound body up and over icy ledges that are several feet high, while avoiding nearby predators? Underwater video has revealed an amazing adaptation that allows the penguin to launch out…
 
Every year, thousands of people visit a nesting colony of Atlantic Puffins on England’s northeastern coast. David Craven of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust says the puffins’ comical appearances endear them to visitors. Craven uses people’s love for the puffins as a way to start conversations about saving the species from extinction. Hear more about ho…
 
Most coffee is grown industrially in wide-open fields with few places for birds and other species to live. But some farmers are returning to a more sustainable method, growing coffee under layers of natural tree canopy. The Smithsonian Institute certifies coffee as Bird Friendly if it meets a rigorous standard for habitat quality. On Bring Birds Ba…
 
In the spring, Rufous Hummingbirds journey from Mexico to the northwest U.S., some as far north as Alaska! That’s almost 1000 miles one way for a bird measuring just under four inches beak to tail, making this the longest migration of any bird relative to body length. Not long after arriving, they bulk up on nectar and bugs for the scenic return tr…
 
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