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Past Shows

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Double-jointed Hawks and Convergent Evolution

Crane Hawks of Central and South America and African Harrier-Hawks both have legs that bend forward and backward. Each bird’s wonderfully peculiar leg adaptation is completely original - it evolved all on its own - even though the end result is the same. Scientists call this convergent evolution. read more »

An Albatross Surfs the Wind

By moving from the faster high air to slower low air, or vice versa, an albatross can propel itself forward. In a series of sinuous loops, the albatross surfs the wind, up and down, repeating the pattern over and over again as it moves thousands of miles across the ocean. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight

Night Singers

A bird like the Whip-poor-will is a true night bird – feeding, and mating, and nesting in the dark. But for about a week each spring, male Yellow-breasted Chats also sing in the darkness as they call out to the arriving females — their potential mates. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Mountain Walk with Bird Songs

A hike through the mountains of the West, from the lowlands to the rocky alpine zones, reveals an incredibly diverse array of beautiful birds: Swainson’s Thrushes, Pine Grosbeaks, American Pipits and so many more to be found. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, vocalization

Double Yolks

When young hens begin laying at five or six months, their ovaries aren’t fully in synch. So every hundred or so eggs, they release two yolks instead of one. Double-yolk eggs are usually a little bit larger than average, so if you’re looking to get one, try buying the extra-large or jumbo eggs at... read more »

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

Birdhouses in Turkey

It’s easy to imagine that putting up a birdhouse or nestbox is a relatively recent practice. But in Turkey, it has a long history. Since at least the 13th century and continuing through the period of Ottoman rule, birdhouses were placed on all sorts of structures: mosques (like this one – the... read more »

Sparrows Sing in Arizona Monsoon

Midday temperatures in southeast Arizona soar above 100 degrees during the month of July. But relief is coming. A summer monsoon refreshes the Sonoran Desert like a second spring. Grass grows lush, wildflowers spring forth, and birds sing. Cassin’s Sparrows sing their plaintive phrases almost... read more »

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The Cold Lake Amphitheater

A great place to listen to insects - and birds - is a remote mountain lake in the spring. Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist, recorded the sounds of this lake in Washington’s Methow Valley. The air is so clear of noise you’ll actually be able to hear the tiny splashes of lake trout gobbling up... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  recording

Crested Auklets Entice Their Mates with Scent

Crested Auklets are small seabirds that nest on remote cliffs in the Northern Pacific and the Bering Sea. But it’s their smell that really sets these birds apart. They smell like tangerines! Experiments show that females go for males that emit the strongest scents.This episode brought to us by... read more »

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