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State of the Birds

Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jays take their name from pinyon pines. Extracting the seeds from cones, the jays fill their throats. Then they fly to a caching site, sometimes miles away, to push each seed into the leaf litter. Collectively, they cache millions of seeds, some of which sprout before they can be eaten.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  gardening

The COASST Program - Interview with Julia Parrish

In the late 1990s, Julia Parrish started the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team or COASST. Julia says: "We train people to go out to their local beach and survey it. They are looking for birds that have literally washed in on the last tide. COASST offers people a chance to learn more... read more »

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Millerbirds Return to the Island of Laysan

In September 2011, the research vessel Searcher sailed for Laysan Island from the Hawaiian island of Nihoa. It carried eight biologists from American Bird Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - and 24 Millerbirds. Laysan was once home to Millerbirds, but they disappeared long ago,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Rare Sounds Saved by Macaulay Library

The tranquil song of the Kaua'i O'o graced the high, dense forests of Kaua'i until 1987, when it was heard no more. The voice of only one member of this family of birds, now all extinct, remains immortalized on tape. The Macaulay Library maintains the largest collection of bird sounds in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

Extinction and Islands - Interview with George Wallace

Hawaii has more bird species in danger of extinction than anywhere else in the United States. George Wallace of American Bird Conservancy explains that a long period of evolution in isolation gives rise to specialized island species. Birds that nest on the ground don't have any natural resistance... read more »

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Hawaiian Goose - New Hope for the Nene

On the grassy edge of one of the ponds at Hanalei Wildlife Refuge, we find a Nene -- or Hawaiian Goose -- a small goose found nowhere else but Hawaii. The Nene is the only state bird that is also an endangered species. Once common in the Hawaiian Islands before the first humans landed here, they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Ecosystem Engineers on America's Serengeti

Some birds require habitats created by other animals. Two such landscape shapers were the American bison and the prairie dog. With the extermination of millions of bison and prairie dogs, species such as this Mountain Plover and the Burrowing Owl, which require barren ground, greatly declined.... read more »

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Blackbird Deaths Spark Concern

On January 1, 2011, residents of Beebe, Arkansas awoke to find hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds lying dead on their lawns and in the streets. Birds in a nearby roost had all taken off at 10:15 PM, when fireworks shook the windows of nearby houses. They died by colliding with wires, trees, and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Cranes Bring Economic Benefit to the Platte

Every March, Sandhill Cranes return to the Platte River in Nebraska, on their way to nesting grounds in coastal Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia. Birdwatchers come from all over and contribute mightily to the state's economy - as much as $30 million per year. In addition to being of intrinsic... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  festival

Stalking the King Rail

John James Audubon called the King Rail the "Elegant Rail." These rails are the largest rails in North America. And they are also one of the most threatened. American Bird Conservancy is working to save the King Rail by conserving freshwater wetlands and ensuring effective pollution laws. Learn... read more »

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