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.

Episodes

July 22, 2024 1 min

Black-crowned Night-Herons feed primarily on fish, but they will consume everything from earthworms to clams to eggs of nesting birds and refuse at landfills! Because they are high on the food chain, found throughout much of the world, and nest in colonies, Black-crowned Night-Herons can tell us a lot about the health of our environment.

More info and transcript at BirdNote.org

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Shorebirds' lives take them to many places other than the shore. Most of the shorebirds we see along our coasts migrate to the Arctic in summer. Here, many nest on the tundra, some along rushing streams, and others on rocky mountainsides. Long-billed Curlews winter on the Florida, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. But this one was seen in a field near Creston, BC, Canada, nearly 500 miles from the coast and 1/2 mile from the nearest body o...

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July 20, 2024 1 min

The rainforests of Eastern and Northeastern Australia harbor many species of birds found almost nowhere else. This Eastern Whipbird — which is more often heard than seen — hangs out in the dense understory. Easier to lay eyes on is the large, pigeon-like Wompoo Fruit-Dove. Feathered in a stunning combination of green, purple, and yellow, this bird is clearly named for its voice. And a pig-like grunting on the forest floor tells us ...

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Over the last few years, writer Emily Raboteau has been going out and photographing a series of bird murals found throughout New York City commissioned by the National Audubon Society. One day, she came across an artist finishing up a Gray Hawk mural in west Harlem. The artist explained that she had chosen to paint that species because the gray feathers reminded her of the color of her mother’s hair.

More info and transcript at Bird...

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In Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, people have reported seeing Northern Cardinals that are red on one side and brown on the other, indicating that a bird is half male and half female. This anomaly occurs in other species of birds, as well, not just cardinals. Insects, too! Scientists call these bilateral gynandromorphs.

More info and transcript at BirdNote.org

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Ornithologist J. Drew Lanham's favorite bird is “the one with feathers.” But here, he shares a few species that have been especially on his mind lately — “selected birds of the moment annotated by why.”

More info and transcript at BirdNote.org

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Feathers are amazing structures. But after about a year, constant use and exposure to the elements mean they have to be replaced. So how do you replace the roughly 20 feathers in each wing that are essential to flight? Many species — such as this Common Raven — molt just a few feathers at a time so they can still fly. But waterbirds like ducks and loons molt all of their flight feathers at once. As a result, they’re earthbound and ...

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Today kicks off Coral Reef Awareness Week. Coral reefs are hotspots of biodiversity, but they’re threatened by warming ocean temperatures, pollution, and overfishing. One thing to be aware of this week is how these underwater ecosystems are linked to birds in the skies above them. And seabirds that nest near coral reefs are a great source of nutrients that can help coral reefs recover faster from bleaching caused by oceanic heat wa...

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July 14, 2024 1 min

This American Kestrel evolved to nest in tree cavities or small caves in cliffs. We humans have made life difficult for kestrels. Development has shrunk the open spaces they need. We’ve cleared away dead trees they rely on for nests and sprayed pesticides that eliminate the insects the birds eat. But we humans are also in a position to help. Volunteers are helping to build and put up nest boxes, improve habitat, and monitor these c...

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A movie runs at 24 frames per second, just right for humans to sense as normal speed. Pigeons process the visual world several times faster. The frantic car chase that puts us at the edge of our seats would likely appear — to a pigeon — more like a slideshow or PowerPoint. A bird’s rapid-fire perception is vital to its staying alive, whether it’s hunting fast-moving prey or eluding speedy predators. From the pigeon’s perspective, h...

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Many people would tell you that hearing birdsong puts them in a good mood. Recently, scientists have tried to put numbers to this effect that many of us have noticed. One study found that people who spent a few minutes immersed in the sounds of birds had lower levels of paranoia and anxiety than those who only listened to traffic noise.

More info and transcript at BirdNote.org

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Many woodpeckers chisel out deep cavities in tree trunks in order to lay their eggs and raise their brood. The cavities hollowed out by the birds vary in size, depending on the species of woodpecker. The chamber of a tiny Downy Woodpecker descends about a foot from the opening, while the Pileated Woodpecker may chip out a chamber two feet deep. Both are beyond the reach of a pesky raccoon.

Most North American woodpeckers carve a new...

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July 10, 2024 1 min

Amid discussion of renaming birds that are named after people, ornithologist J. Drew Lanham forms a “committee of one” to choose his own names for birds. In this episode, he suggests two “better, melodiously appropriate” names for two species named after John Bachman.

More info and transcript at BirdNote.org

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Eagle Cliff in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park is an important nesting site for Peregrine Falcons. Each year, popular climbing routes in the area close temporarily to give nesting falcons their space. After peregrines disappeared from the northeast due to the pesticide DDT, Eagle Cliff was the first natural rock face to host a successful peregrine nest. Now, state agencies and New Hampshire Audubon work with rock climbin...

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Researchers studying birds called Japanese Tits, relatives of the chickadees and titmice in North America, noticed that mates raising chicks together often fluttered their wings near the entrance of their nest box. After recording hundreds of examples of this behavior, it became clear that the wing-flutter was a signal for the other bird to enter first, much like that arm-sweeping gesture that people use to mean, “after you.”

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The spider’s web is an intricate piece of precision engineering. Made from large proteins, it’s sticky, stretchy, and tough. So it’s no surprise that many small birds — including this Anna’s Hummingbird — make a point of collecting strands of spider silk to use in nest construction. Spider silk not only acts as a glue, holding the nest together, but it’s flexible enough to accommodate the growing bodies of nestlings. And it’s resil...

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July 6, 2024 1 min

Male Great Egrets have special long feather plumes called aigrettes, which they use in courtship displays in the spring. These beautiful big birds were nearly hunted to extinction for these special feathers, which were used to adorn ladies’ hats. The plight of the egret spurred people to organize to protect these and other threatened birds, resulting in the creation of some of the country’s first bird protection societies.

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July 5, 2024 1 min

Artist David Shepard designs aloha shirts with illustrations of Hawai‘i's native flora and fauna. David actually trained as a botanist, and one of his shirt designs was inspired by his experience working on the Kalaupapa peninsula with the hō‘awa plant. That species needs lots of help from conservationists in part because it was a favorite food of the ‘alala, or Hawaiian Crow, which is now extinct in the wild.

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July 4, 2024 1 min

Tiny Marsh Wrens live in wetlands, usually within cattails, reeds, or bulrushes. After choosing his territory, the male weaves up to 15 dome-shaped shells, lashing together cattails, grasses, or reeds. These are called "courting" nests. Then, sitting high atop a perch in the marsh, he sings, inviting a female to select a nest in his territory. once the female has chosen one of his shells, she lines it with cattail down, feathers, l...

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In this episode, J. Drew Lanham shares how his grandmother’s personal names for  birds helped shape his own relationships with birds. Names such as “redbirds” for Northern Cardinals, “rain crows” for Yellow-billed Cuckoos, and “cat owls” for Great Horned Owls help him feel personally connected to these species. Through developing one’s own ornithology and personal names for birds, he says, anyone can strengthen their bond with bird...

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