Birds connect us with the joy and wonder of nature. By telling vivid, sound-rich stories about birds and the challenges they face, BirdNote inspires listeners to care about the natural world – and takes step to protect it.
Of all the birds out there, the corvid family — the crows, ravens, and jays — might have the spookiest reputation. But this idea that corvids are spooky is far from universal — it's mainly in the Western world, as corvid researcher Kaeli Swift explains.
Is that big black bird a crow or a raven? How can you tell? Ravens (seen right here) often travel in pairs, while crows (left) are seen in larger groups. Also, study the tail as the bird flies overhead. A crow's tail is shaped like a fan, while the raven's tail appears wedge-shaped or
Although the American Crow may seem blasé about pillaging another bird's nest, it regards a threat to its own young as a punishable offense. To protect their nest, adult crows dive-bomb people, cats, and other animals, and even other birds. Young crows fledge when they are around five or
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
The American Crow’s rattle call is uncommon, and researchers aren’t sure what it means. It could be a gathering call, a predator alarm, or a call between mates. But if you hear it, you might think it sounds like cackling laughter. However, no one has identified a crow noise that indicates
Author Kira Jane Buxton loves crows — so much that she’s written two novels about a crow named S.T. navigating the extinction of humanity. When she was writing those books, she tried befriending the crows in her neighborhood, and wound up bonding with a pair of them. She named them T and
Look for the stories birds tell with their tracks in the snow. A crow swaggers, leaving right-and-left steps much as a walking human would. Juncos under a birdfeeder leave a hopping pattern of tiny footprints in side-by-side pairs. Look for beak marks, where a bird picked up a choice
Kira Jane Buxton wrote two novels about a foul-mouthed pet crow navigating the extinction of humanity. But her love for crows began just a few years before writing the books. She found an injured crow surrounded by 60 others calling out in alarm. Though Kira was nervous, she took the crow
Many birds are remarkably clever. New findings help reveal how they can be so smart. In mammals, intelligence is seated in the neocortex, which has neurons arranged in layers and columns. Birds lack a neocortex and were thought to have a forebrain composed of simple clusters of neurons
Crow experts think big communal roosts provide warmth, protection from predators, shared knowledge about food sources, and a chance to find a mate. Follow crows to their roost some autumn evening, if you can, and watch these avian acrobats wheel in for the night. Find out what’s new with
Kelsen Caldwell drives a bus in and around Seattle for King County Metro. As a bus driver, sometimes there’s downtime if your bus is moving too fast. What do you do with all that extra time? If you’re Kelsen, you fall in love with birds.
When Dr. Kaeli Swift was in college, she became obsessed with the Corvid family of birds, which includes crows, ravens and jays. She decided to study whether crows learn to recognize certain human faces as friendly. She tried putting a mask on a mannequin holding peanuts, but the crows
Crows. Large, black, noisy. The raucous birds of the neighborhood. Some people love them; others aren't so sure. American Crows are crafty and resourceful. Crows have adapted to our modern world. For one thing, they, too have a taste for fast food. Watch for crows at your local fast food
Crows didn't get where they are today by being shy or slow. They take advantage of whatever food they find, where and when they find it. Listener Jerry Campbell told his story of one crow making off with three chips. Be sure to watch the video of another clever crow in Japan -- in Sights
Crows and gulls are opportunists - grabbing a bite wherever, whenever, however they can. Listener Nick Woodiwiss of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, wrote to BirdNote about a funny scene between an American Crow and a Glaucous-winged Gull on the beach. It seems that crows and gulls are
When smaller birds join forces to ward off larger birds, it's called mobbing. This behavior — like calling your family for help — is used by many bird species. The best time to observe mobbing is spring and early summer, when breeding birds are trying to protect their nests and young
It’s been said that if someone knows only three birds, one of them will be the crow. They’re common, easy to see, and even easier to hear. But crow voices are complicated. Altogether, crows may use 30 sound elements in different combinations, and one of the most intriguing is their song
Crows are found on every continent except South America and Antarctica. And while there are a lot of similarities, there are a lot of differences, too. Imagine a powder-gray crow with a pink beak. There’s one thing they have in common, though: they’re all smart.
Tony Angell, along with Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington, wrote the book, Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans. Tony says, "A crow 'funeral' is where the deceased bird is surrounded by members of the same
Evolutionary time is long — the earliest ancestors of birds emerged around 50 million years ago. Against that yardstick, the length of time humans have been living in cities is a blip. But that blip has resulted in huge changes for urban birds, crows in particular, as John Marzluff
To find out if a crow can recognize an individual human face, Professor John Marzluff of the University of Washington wore a mask while trapping, banding, and then releasing seven American Crows on campus. Later, when he walked through the campus wearing the mask, it was automatic! A big
American Crows and other birds groom each other while sitting side by side on a wire or branch. One stretches out its neck, and the groomer, or preener, twirls individual feathers in its beak, often starting at the back of the head and working around to the front. This grooming, known as
Crows and their cousins - ravens, magpies, jackdaws, rooks, jays, and others - are among the cleverest birds in the world. Some even use tools - including a lit cigarette! A Rook, like this one, allegedly set fire to the thatched roof of Anne Hathaway’s historic cottage in England. And all
Every day in October 2011, nearly 3.5 million hours were spent playing Rovio's award-winning game, "Angry Birds." We don't know of too many birds whose eggs are stolen by pigs, but no bird is happy when its eggs are stolen. You might hear an American Robin, sounding its alarm. An angry
You can find birds nearly everywhere. Even parking lots. Next time you're at a mall, grab a coffee, take a seat outside, and look around you. How many different species of birds can you see? Crows and gulls command the rooftops. Rock Pigeons abound. A European Starling-like this one-picks