Welcome to BirdNote!

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.

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Shows With Contributions by Todd Peterson

Tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl facing forward perched in evergreen branches

Northern Saw-whet Owl - A Bird with a Lot to Say

For such a small owl, the Northern Saw-whet has a lot to say. And a lot of ways to say it. Males weigh about as much as an American Robin. And they send out at least 11 different calls, including “toot-toot-toot” advertising calls, from late January through May. The rate of calling is…
Two male Harlequin ducks stand on seaweed-covered rock while looking out at choppy blue water.

The Hardy Harlequin

Some ducks don't sound like ducks at all. Some, like the Harlequin, squeak. Harlequins are unique in other ways, too. Quick and agile in rushing white water, they dive to the bottom of mountain streams for food, and use fast-flowing rivers for breeding. If you're lucky enough to spot a…
A small dark grey bird stands on a partially submerged rock, holding a bright orange salmon egg in its beak.

Dippers on the Elwha

In 2014, the dams on the Elwha River in Washington State were removed. As the river ran free again, salmon from the Pacific were able to spawn upstream for the first time in 100 years, dramatically improving conditions for American Dippers. Recent research has demonstrated that birds with…
A plump bird looks over its left shoulder at the viewer as it sits on a branch. The bird shows smooth brown, rust and yellow coloration, a black mask pattern over the eyes, and short pointed beak.

Cedar Waxwings - Sleek and Handsome

When courting in spring, male and female Cedar Waxwings communicate with distinctly different calls and, perched side by side, often pass back and forth between them a berry or other small fruit or even a flower petal. Waxwings display a wealth of eye-catching plumage. If you relish the…
Turkey Vulture soaring with characteristic "V" wings

Turkey Vulture - Sky Sailor

Although some of the Turkey Vulture's habits may evoke our disgust, these remarkable birds also inspire our awe. With wingspans approaching six feet, Turkey Vultures ride currents of air to make their spring and fall journeys, and to cover the miles of their home range in summer. Gliding…
A Superb Fairy Wren perched on a wire fence

Fairy-Wrens Sing Secret Passwords to Unborn Chicks

Superb Fairy-wrens teach their embryonic chicks a secret code. This "incubation call" contains a special note that will later serve as a password. When the chicks have hatched, this password enables the adult birds to identify their babies in the darkness of their domed nest. A species of…
Sharp-tailed Grouse

Sharp-tailed Grouse on a Lek

During spring at Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, male Sharp-tailed Grouse - like the one pictured here - perform their elaborate mating dances on a matted patch of ground called a lek. They stomp their feet, extend their wings, and zip around the lek. Then, in an instant…
Pacific Wren singing

What the Pacific Wren Hears

What does the Pacific Wren hear in a song? It's a long story. What we hear as a blur of sound, the bird hears as a precise sequence of sounds, the visual equivalent of seeing a movie as a series of still pictures. That birds can hear the fine structure of song so acutely allows them to…
Barred Owlet napping on a branch

Barred Owlets Nap

Keeping its talons tightly gripped on a branch, a Barred Owlet will sometimes lie down on its stomach, turn its head to the side, and fall asleep. A young owl doesn't fall out of the tree while it snoozes, because its back toe, the hallux, holds onto the branch. The hallux will not open or…
Cygnus constellation show in illustration from 1825

Cygnus the Swan

The story of Cygnus the Swan constellation, from Greek mythology: Phaeton, unable to control the chariot of the sun, careens wildly though the heavens, scorching the earth. The god Zeus strikes the impetuous charioteer with a bolt of lightning, causing him to fall headlong into the river…