BirdNote Daily

BirdNote Daily

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.


December 9, 2022 1 min

These Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers appear nearly identical, but the Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy, with a distinctly longer bill. And it doesn't have the black spots on its outer tail feathers like the Downy. But even if you can’t observe these spunky birds, you can identify them by listening carefully. The call of the Downy Woodpecker is soft and downy, like a duvet. The call of the Hairy Woodpecker is loud and hair...

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Clark’s Nutcracker is a clever corvid that has a special relationship with a tree called the whitebark pine. The tree’s cones don’t open on their own, and Clark’s Nutcracker is one of the few species that can pry them open. When the nutcrackers cache the seeds for the winter, they’ll leave a few behind, helping spread the next generation of whitebark pines. 

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December 7, 2022 1 min

For most birds, wings are for flying. But for Rock Pigeons, they’re also for clapping. When the pigeons erupt into flight, some may slap their wings together above their bodies in a “wing clap.” A male Rock Pigeon will also do this when courting. Short-eared Owls, like this one, have evolved wing-clapping, too. When a male displays to a female or attempts to warn off an intruder, he snaps his wings together below his body in a burs...

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December 6, 2022 1 min

Just off the southern coast of Iceland, the Westman Islands are home to many of the country’s several million Atlantic Puffins. When puffin hatchlings, known as pufflings, get confused by the lights of the city, volunteers of all ages search for wayward pufflings on the street and bring them in for health checks. After the puffins get the green light, the volunteers release them along cliffs and beaches.

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Early this fall, the tiny Wilson's Warbler began its long migration to Belize, where it winters. Navigating by the stars, the 1/4-ounce bird made a series of night flights spanning more than 2500 miles. This warbler returns to the same coffee plantation each year. Taller trees that shade the coffee are a winter home for many migrants from North America.

By buying shade-grown coffee, you can help migratory birds, including the Wi...

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December 4, 2022 1 min

Go outside this weekend. Feel the wind in your hair. Listen to a bird. Discover a new park. Then get involved! Volunteer to lead your own bird walk. Participate in a bird count or cleanup. Or maybe you’re more comfortable around a laptop  – lots of local parks and environmental nonprofits have governing boards, office tasks, and other opportunities for everyone to get involved.

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December 3, 2022 1 min

By December, an array of diving birds that nested at far northern latitudes are wintering on temperate waters across the continent. If we could watch them under water, we'd see this Common Loon racing like a torpedo. A goldeneye dives under water and swims about 10 feet from the surface, while scoters get down to 30 feet in search of clams and mussels. But if one bird stands out as the most beautiful diver, it has to be the Lon...

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December 2, 2022 1 min

Birds are resourceful. Wherever they live, even in the biggest cities, they find clever places to build their nests. An initiative from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology called Celebrate Urban Birds, once asked people to share the funkiest and funniest places they’ve seen a bird nest. Among the highlights were a family of robins set up shop in a coiled cable hung near a welding rig, a wren nest in an old car motor, and a tiny hummingb...

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The boreal forest stretches across Canada and Alaska, a huge expanse of woods, wetlands and wilderness. And it’s full of magnificent forest owls that depend on mice and other rodents for food. Those populations can boom and bust, so in lean years, hungry owls often fly as far south as the northern U.S. to find food.

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November 30, 2022 1 min

When it comes to silly walks, no bird outdoes the American Woodcock’s one-of-a-kind strut. It goes like this: take one step forward, then rock your whole torso forward and back a few times before sliding another foot forward — all while keeping your head perfectly steady. It looks like a bird with an undeniable sense of rhythm. It’s not entirely clear why woodcocks walk this way. It’s another of the bird world’s little mysteries — ...

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November 29, 2022 1 min

The two American species of dowitchers, Long-billed and Short-billed, are similar in appearance but have distinctive calls. And they’re some of the continent’s most dramatic songsters. On their northern breeding grounds, Short-billed Dowitchers ascend as high as 150 feet in the air then glide slowly earthward, singing. At the end of the glide, they may take off again for another bout of song.

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November 28, 2022 1 min

The alpine forests of Australia’s southeast are home to an iconic pint-sized gray parrot with a bright red mohawk, and a call that’s been described as a “flying creaky gate”. The Gang-gang Cockatoo has seen significant habitat loss in recent years, especially after the 2020 wildfires. It’s now listed as an endangered species. A new national working group is coordinating recovery efforts. Researchers and community scientists are tri...

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November 27, 2022 1 min

Have you ever watched ducks walking around in freezing temperatures and wondered why their feet don't freeze? And how do birds, including this Northern Flicker, sit on metal perches with no problem? Birds' feet have a miraculous adaptation that keeps them from freezing. Rete mirabile — Latin for "wonderful net" — is a fine, netlike pattern of arteries that interweaves blood from a bird's heart with the veins car...

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November 26, 2022 1 min

The shallow waters and wide mudflats of the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary northeast of Galveston, Texas, are alive with thousands of gulls, terns, and shorebirds. American Avocets are often among the most abundant birds, with 5,000 or more here most winters. The avocets have sensitive bills that curve upward. As they wade, they sweep their heads back and forth and snap up the tiny crustaceans that touch their bills. This tactil...

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November 25, 2022 1 min

When Maya Higa started interning at a zoo, she wasn't especially into birds — until she began rehabilitating a Red-tailed Hawk named Bean. Meanwhile, Maya was doing live-streams of herself singing and playing guitar on the website Twitch, just for fun, to a pretty small audience. The video went viral, and Maya's audience grew from there. Thousands of viewers watched Bean's rehabilitation on her streams, forming a bond w...

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November 24, 2022 1 min

In winter, many songbirds join flocks made up of multiple species that travel around looking for food, benefitting from safety in numbers. But a bird flock that doesn't move in the same direction soon scatters to the wind. It turns out that the Tufted Titmouse, a small gray songbird, is often the one leading the flock. Researchers studying the flight paths of flocks found that the paths taken by the titmice best reflected the d...

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November 23, 2022 1 min

When a soaring Short-toed Snake-Eagle spots a delicious snake, it swoops down, grabs it with its talons, then tears off the snake’s head. Still on the wing, it swallows the entire snake, head first. Smaller than Bald Eagles, they live mainly in Africa and have legs and toes covered in thick scales to protect them from bites. Snake-Eagles take on some of the swiftest and deadliest snakes in the world, like cobras and black mambas.


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November 22, 2022 1 min

For Molly Adams, the founder of the Feminist Bird Club, getting COVID didn’t just mean a week or two under the weather. Like other people with long COVID, they’re continuing to have chronic symptoms after the viral infection. Fortunately, before COVID they had learned about a technique called atlasing — observing birds closely to figure out if they’re breeding in a certain habitat. The observations become part of a record called a ...

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November 21, 2022 1 min

The poet Ray Young Bear writes in both English and Meskwaki, his first language. He says that the task of passing on Indigenous languages feels especially urgent now as linguistic scholars predict the loss of languages. 

The Meskwaki language is rich with bird names, like Tti Tti Ka Kwa Ha, the name for the robin, which emulates the bird’s song, he says. After decades of creating poems, novels, and songs, Ray Young Bear has dedicate...

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November 20, 2022 1 min

You may see Dark-eyed Juncos in the summer, but come fall, many more — those that have been nesting in the mountains or farther north — arrive to spend the winter. These juncos often visit birdfeeders for winter feasting. Dark-eyed Juncos forage on the ground. The flash of white tail-feathers when one is alarmed alerts other members of the flock, and is also used as part of the courtship display.

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