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Shows With Contributions by Mary McCann

Cactus Wren Nest Orientation

Cactus Wrens, which may nest several times between March and September, carefully orient their nests in tune with the season. These bulky twig structures have a side entrance that curves toward the inner chamber. When building a nest for the hot months, the wren faces the opening to receive the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

Remembering Mary Oliver

On January 17, 2019, renowned American poet Mary Oliver passed away. She was known for her beautiful writing about the natural world. We spoke with poet Traci Brimhall about Oliver's passing and asked her to read the first poem she ever memorized, Wild Geese. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

High Island - Migration on the Gulf

If you're near High Island, Texas in the spring, you might witness a "fallout," one of the great spectacles of bird migration. Thousands of birds, including Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, orioles, Painted Buntings, and warblers of all kinds, as well as tanagers and Indigo Buntings, like this one, drop... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

The Colors of Chicken Eggs

Except around Easter, chicken eggs usually come in a predictable range of colors: white, brown, and sometimes pale blue or green. Chickens are descended from the Red Jungle Fowl of Southeast Asia, which has been providing eggs for humans for thousands of years. The final color of an egg comes... read more »

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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

How Humans Affect Competition Among Birds

Evolutionary time is long — the earliest ancestors of birds emerged around 50 million years ago. Against that yardstick, the length of time humans have been living in cities is a blip. But that blip has resulted in huge changes for urban birds, crows in particular, as John Marzluff explores in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  human interaction

Female Blackbirds Choose Their Mates

One male Red-winged Blackbird’s marshland territory may include five—or even as many as fifteen—nesting females. And he makes an effort to mate with every one of them. Biologists call this polygyny - when one male claims breeding rights with multiple females. But while this may look like the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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

Unlikely Places to Go Birding

Birding is often best in the least likely places. At sewage treatment plants, watch for ducks and gulls - and raptors keeping watch over them all. Another place might be your local landfill or dump. The Brownsville, Texas dump was, for years, the only place in the US you could find this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Spring Migration Across the Globe

Each spring, millions of birds head north. From Ecuador, beautiful Scarlet Tanagers fly to the eastern US and Canada, many traversing the Gulf of Mexico, an arduous journey. Across much of southern Europe, Common Nightingales – small thrushes with russet feathers – are arriving, having traveled... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration

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