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State of the Birds

The Birds and Plants of Hawaii

Three-quarters of Hawaii's native flowering plants probably came from seeds that hitched rides with birds. Sticky or barbed seeds adhere to the feathers. Other seeds travel in mud caked on a bird's feet. And still others cross the ocean in the stomachs of birds. The most likely seed-carriers were... read more »

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Northern Pintail - Elegance and Decline

In recent years, unlike many other North American ducks, Northern Pintails present a portrait of sharp decline. Pintails nest in grasslands near seasonal wetlands. Increasingly, these grasslands are being plowed up to grow crops such as corn. But people who love pintails are responding. Ducks... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Mono Lake - Seeking a Balance

More than 1.5 million Eared Grebes, 30% of the North American population, gather at Mono Lake each fall. But as late as the 1990s, the lake was gravely threatened by the diversion of its water to Los Angeles. After years of court battles, Los Angeles, the lake's advocates, and concerned... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Pelicans Go Fishing

Unlike Brown Pelicans, which dive from above to capture fish, White Pelicans feed by forming a group. They swim in a line, and—while herding a school of fish—all dip their heads at once. The pelican's broad bill spreads its huge pouch, as the bird pushes through the water. As each bird lifts its... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology

Lights Out Toronto - Saving Birds

Urban light creates a fatal attraction and disorients migrating birds, which often fly around until exhausted and drop to the ground. Or they may strike a building or window. To prevent these needless deaths, the city of Toronto has created a "Lights Out Toronto" program. Lights go out in city... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

Alala - The Hawaiian Crow

'Alala, also known as Hawaiian Crows (although they're more like ravens), were once common on the Big Island of Hawaii. But the birds suffered from persecution by humans, degraded habitat, and disease, and by 2002, no 'Alala were left in the wild. Today, captive breeding is under way in Hawaii,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Lewis's Woodpeckers and Pine Forests

A century of logging and fire control has taken its toll on the mature pine forests of the West, the preferred nest site for this Lewis's Woodpecker. But there is hope. Lewis's Woodpeckers also nest along rivers in large cottonwoods, trees of little value for timber. Also, many remaining tracts... read more »

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Making a Home among the Saguaros

In the arid Arizona desert, where cacti thrive but trees are scarce, the Gila Woodpecker and this Gilded Flicker carve out nest cavities in living saguaros. Tall, old saguaros may be pocked with twenty or more nest holes, bearing witness to decades of woodpecker families. The woodpeckers excavate... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Red-cockaded Woodpecker and Southeastern Forests

Native to the Southeast across to East Texas, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers differ from most woodpeckers. They remain in cooperative family groups throughout their lives. And they excavate nests in living trees rather than dead ones, often reusing the same cavities for decades. The federal government... read more »

RELATED
Topics & Themes:  nesting

Hovering with Horned Larks

Horned Larks rival meadowlarks as the most colorful birds of North American grasslands. They live in prairies, fields, and tundra, but agriculture and development now intrude on many of the Horned Lark's traditional nesting areas. The farmland Conservation Reserve Program encourages agricultural... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display

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