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 Paul Higgins

A Black Tern in flight

The Elegant Black Tern

Elegant Black Terns breed in summer on secluded wetlands across the northern states and Canada. Because of major losses of wetlands in their breeding range — especially in Canada's prairie provinces — Black Tern numbers have dropped dramatically since the 1960s. The future of this…
White-winged Crossbill sitting at a pinecone in snow

Crossbills Nest in Winter

In the grips of winter, when most songbirds are months away from the breeding season, crossbills are already warming up. It’s all about the food. When the evergreens hang heavy with snow and cones, crossbills can get all the calories they need for the demands of reproduction: courtship…
Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler near Summer’s End

By early August, the rich yellow of the feathers of the Wilson's Warbler seems to flash in every forest thicket. Despite predators and weather, many pairs of adults have raised four young, which now flit about on their own. The young males hatched this spring learned their father's songs…
Wandering Tattler

A Little Bird Told Me

Ever wonder how the avian idiom, “A little bird told me,” came about? The consensus is that the saying springs from the Old Testament of the Bible -- a maxim from Ecclesiastes. By the mid-16th century, the “little bird” showed up in collections of proverbs. In 1711, the satirist Jonathan…
Least Sandpipers on wetland habitat

The Power of IBA Designation, With Pete Pumphrey

Important Bird Areas (IBAs) are vital habitats for birds around the world. Pete Pumphrey of Eastern Sierra Audubon describes the power of this designation for Owens Lake in Eastern California – and birds like these Least Sandpipers. “When we did our bird count in April . . . about 800…
Bobolink in Flight

Navigating by Earth's Magnetic Field

How do birds navigate? They steer by landmarks and by the sun and stars. A keen sense of smell helps some birds chart their course. And, it turns out, migrating birds also find their way by responding to the magnetic field of the earth. Iron-rich magnetic crystals inside the upper beak of…
Wandering Tattler

Wandering Tattlers Hit the Coast

This dusky forager among the mussels and barnacles goes by the curious name of Wandering Tattler. It was likely named for the notion that its rapid whistles alert other birds to the presence of a hunter, or other predator. And while it's not certain that the sandpiper actually "tattles,"…
Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadee Codes

Black-capped Chickadees sometimes add extra dees to their calls. Christopher Templeton has cracked the chickadee code. He found that a relatively small threat, maybe a slow-to-maneuver Great Horned Owl, warranted only two dee notes. But a greater threat, an agile Northern Pygmy-Owl…