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 Mary McCann

American Robin feeding caterpillars to chicks in nest

Nesting Niches

American Robins (like this male seen here with its young), House Finches, and Song Sparrows may all nest within one small garden. By selecting different nesting strata, the species avoid competing for the same nesting sites. If you plant your garden in multiple layers – trees both short…
American Dipper standing on a stone in a stream

Amazing Aquatic American Dipper

The American Dipper stands on a rock in a stream, bobbing up and down on its long legs - "dipping" - hence the name. But watch! This nondescript bird steps off a small boulder right into the torrent, and begins to peer under water. What the American Dipper might lack in bright color it…
Pileated Woodpecker carving cavity in tree

Woodpeckers Carve Out Roost Cavities, Too

In spring, we often hear woodpeckers hard at work, carving out nest holes in tree trunks. And now that fall has arrived, we may hear that excavating sound again. Some woodpecker species stay year round in the region where they nest, while others migrate south in winter. Those that remain…
A New Zealand Bellbird perched on a flowering branch, the bird's face lightly speckled with pollen and its red eyes shining

New Zealand Bellbird

A forest in New Zealand rings with the sound of bellbirds, also known as Korimako or Makomako. Many bellbirds sing together, especially in the morning. Pairs sing duets. And a pair may counter-sing with its neighbors, perhaps letting them know that this patch of land is taken. It all…
Chimney Swift with image showing chimney at Thompson Rivers University

Swifts Roost in Chimneys

What could bring crowds of people out after sunset on a September evening to stare at ... a chimney? Swifts, of course! Scores of swifts form a funnel-shaped cloud above the right kind of chimney, then they begin their descent. First one, then a few more, then dozens, then hundreds swirl…
A Common Grackle perched in sunlight, looking to its right, the black plumage showing iridescent dark blue on the breast and purple on the head. The grackle's beak is open as it calls, and its tail is fanned out.

The Harsh Beauty of Grackle Songs

Ranging from metallic hisses to electronic yodels, sounds of grackles may not be music to our ears—but they have their own rough beauty, a distinctive, primal harshness. Grackle songs evolved to carry through their nesting habitats — dense marshes and brushy landscapes — where more lyrical…
Photo comparing a Brown Creeper and a White-breasted Nuthatch

Watching Birds' Behavior

To distinguish one bird from a similar one, watch how the bird moves. Does it flick its wings? Bob up and down? Flip its tail? The White-breasted Nuthatch (right) works its way down the trunk of a tree, while the Brown Creeper works its way up. A field guide usually mentions these…
Flock of Dunlins in flight

Why Do Some Birds Flock?

When birds like these Dunlin form flocks, each individual is less likely to be captured by a predator. Some shorebirds that forage with their heads down, like godwits, will flock with birds that forage with their heads up, like curlews. Still other birds work together — like American White…
Pigeon seen in profile as it walks across paving stones

Pigeons and Head-bobbing

Pigeons seem to bob their heads as they move, like they’re grooving to an internal tune. But what look like head bobs are actually momentary pauses of the head while they walk. Their eyes are fixed in their sockets, so that pausing enables the pigeon to take a brief, steady view of its…
An Osprey flying back to the nest while carrying a stick in its talons. The Osprey's wings are outstretched, the feathers's colors ranging from dark brown to white with brown stripes.

Ospreys Never Stop Building

Ospreys are remarkable nest builders. Many reuse their massive stick nests from the previous year, but continue tinkering with it once the nesting season begins. And the nest transforms along with the growing chicks. It’s bowl-shaped at first, corralling the young birds, but it gets…