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Anhingas - Snakebirds

In the black water of a Louisiana bayou, the water ripples where a slender form glides just beneath the surface. It appears to be a snake, but look closer at the long, narrow spike of a beak. It’s a Snakebird, a colloquial name for the Anhinga, swimming with just its head and neck above the water... read more »

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Swallow-tailed Kite

There's a bird of prey in the American Southeast that takes grace to an utterly new level: the Swallow-tailed Kite. A sleek raptor with a white head, slender black wings, and a long, deeply forked black tail, the Swallow-tailed Kite almost never flaps its wings. The bird makes sudden tight turns,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Adaptations for Flight

Birds evolved not only wings, but many other adaptations that make it possible to fly. Feathers provide insulation, waterproofing, and a lightweight means to become airborne. Birds have honeycombed or hollow bones, reducing body weight. And instead of weighty jawbones and teeth, birds evolved a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Flyin' in the Rain

Most birds are mostly waterproof. Their feathers, aided by oil from preen glands, keep them pretty watertight. So why do birds avoid flying during rainstorms? It may have more to do with the air than with the water. Rainstorms tend to occur when atmospheric pressure is low. Air in a low-pressure... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Northern Goshawks and Fire

Among the great firs and Ponderosa pines of Stanislaus National Forest in central California, Northern Goshawk nestlings crowd a platform nest of branches and pine needles halfway up a mature fir tree. In 2013, what’s known as the Rim Fire occurred, and some of the area burned with high intensity... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

House Sparrows' Dance

In 1559, Duke August of Saxony ordered that the House Sparrows of Dresden be excommunicated. The birds were slipping into Holy Cross Church, where they interrupted the sermon with exuberant chirping and “endless unchaste behavior” before the altar. Now their manic chirping and courtship displays... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, history

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Allen's/Rufous Hummingbird nest

Rosie is an Allen's/Rufous hummingbird hybrid believed to be an offspring of Bella Hummingbird. read more »

Video credit: 
Explore Birds Bats Bees

Blackbirds' Strange Music

Blackbird songs have a strange music. The Red-winged Blackbird can be heard in nearly every marsh on the continent — bold, brassy, and piercing. The songs may not seem musical, but they definitely get your attention. Brewer’s Blackbirds, which live in open habitats like farms and grasslands, make... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Summer Solstice - Dawn Songs

On the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, birds across the North American continent greet the dawn — from the Florida Keys and the marshes of Chesapeake Bay, from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, home of this Audubon's Oriole, and the great plains of North Dakota, to the mountains of... read more »

Megapodes - Mound-Builders

There’s a group of birds that lay their eggs underground — in geothermally heated burrows, or  warm sands, or even mounds of organic material warmed by the heat of decomposition. These megapodes or mound-builders — like this Australian Brushturkey — are found in Australia, New Guinea, and... read more »

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