Image: The Ultimate Bird Drawing Throwdown Showdown Graphic featuring images of David Sibley and H. Jon Benjamin

Join BirdNote tomorrow, November 30th!

Illustrator David Sibley and actor H. Jon Benjamin will face off in the bird illustration battle of the century during BirdNote's Year-end Celebration and Auction!


Shows With Contributions by Bob Sundstrom

Gentoo Penguin, showing water droplets on its fine feathers

Why Penguin Feathers Don't Freeze

Gentoo Penguins live in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. Only recently have scientists begun to unravel why penguin feathers don’t freeze. An electron microscope revealed tiny pores on the feathers that trap air, making the surface water repellent. This feature, plus a special coating…
Trumpeter swans landing in a field of harvested crops stubble in Skagit Valley, WA

Swans Come Calling

Trumpeter Swans land in a plowed field to forage for remnant potatoes, grain, and other waste crops. This swan is among the largest of all waterfowl; the Tundra Swan is somewhat smaller. These swans migrate in family groups each fall from nesting sites in Canada and Alaska. Learn more…
Illustration of Cuban Giant Owl, a brown bird with yellow beak and long powerful legs.

Giant Owls of Cuba

The Cuban Giant Owl, now extinct, was 3½ feet tall and weighed 20 pounds — the largest of all known owls. It had very small wings, running after its prey on long, powerful legs. Similar large owls, with long legs and small wings, have been unearthed in places as disparate as Georgia and…
A pigeon in close up looking at the viewer; it has a gray head with orange eyes, and iridescent green and purple feathers on its neck and breast.

A Pigeon-eyed View of the World

Pigeons — and other birds with eyes on the sides of their heads — have a different view of the world from that of creatures with forward-facing eyes. The images from a pigeon’s eyes overlap slightly, so the bird can see in front of itself, even though it has worse depth perception. But…
Wild Turkey

What's with the Wattles?

Birds like male turkeys or barnyard roosters have a wrinkly, bumpy flap of red skin called a wattle. But what are wattles for? Birds can’t sweat, so wattles help release excess heat. Wattles are also key to courtship displays. Many other birds, including some storks and plovers, also have…
California Scrub Jay

The Jay Game

Many jays, including this California Scrub-Jay, store food for sustenance in harsher seasons. An individual bird may cache nuts, insects, and even worms in several thousand spots. If jays visit your yard, here’s a game you can play with them. Each day, preferably when the jays aren’t…
A grey bird with black wings and black mask stripe across its eyes sits on a wire fence, and holding a small lizard in its beak

Loggerhead Shrike

Loggerhead Shrikes are found across much of the United States in open country, like pasture and sagebrush. Male shrikes are well known for impaling their prey on thorns, creating a larder that may help impress potential mates. But pesticides and the loss of habitat to residential and…
Cooper's Hawk splashing in a birdbath, its tail feathers raised and its chest feathers wet

Providing Water for Birds

From chickadees to Cooper’s Hawks, most birds love a good bath. Some birds get the fluids they need from their food, but many birds need a drink at least twice a day. Water is essential for birds, and supplying clean water for them to drink and bathe in is a great way to help maintain…
Greater Roadrunner


The Greater Roadrunner is a common species in the desert and brush country of the Southwest, but its full range reaches from California to western Louisiana. Its soft cooing voice hints at its connections to another bird: scientists group roadrunners with the cuckoos. Where to see a…
Sharp-beaked Ground Finch

The Vampire Finch

Vampire Ground-Finches menace their victims in broad daylight, stabbing holes in their flesh, then devouring the blood. During the dry season, when their usual diet of seeds can be scarce, they turn to large seabirds, like boobies. Fluttering onto a booby’s back, the finch jabs its sharp…