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Life as a Naturalist - With Bruce Beehler

It’s more than “immersing yourself in the wonder of nature”
© Bruce Beehler View Large

Bruce Beehler, an ornithologist with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, admits to spending a lot of time at his computer. “Even the naturalists are isolated from nature,” he says. And yet, time outdoors defines the job. “You’re following your passion, which is birds and forests, and you’re just sort of letting nature flow,” he explains. Currently, Beehler is away from his office, following the spring migration of songbirds from the Gulf of Mexico to the boreal forest of Canada. He spotted this beautiful Summer Tanager on his journey.

This show brought to you by The Bobolink Foundation.

Full Transcript



Life as a Naturalist - with Bruce Beehler

From an interview with Dr. Bruce Beehler by Dominic Black

This is BirdNote. I'm Dominic Black. And I've been thinking about naturalists — you know, scientists who explore the natural world through their work, and who have — as often as not in my experience — a deep connection with that world.

     Well, you know most naturalists today, what do they spend most of their time doing? Staring at a screen, answering emails, drafting texts, balancing budgets. You know, even the naturalists are isolated from nature. 

That's Dr. Bruce Beehler of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Since late March, he's been on a journey with American Bird Conservancy, following from south to north the spring migration of birds: 

     When you're a professional ornithologist, you have your work, which is work like any kind of work. It's hard, it's challenging, and it's a - you like to leave it aside from time to time…you don't want to do it twenty-four hours a day. And then you have this nature side, the natural side, and the natural history side.

     That’s where you get away from your work and you're just sort of immersing yourself in the wonder of nature. 


     You know spring doesn't stay still in any one particular place; it may only last ten or twenty days. And to be able to follow that — you're basically almost in a boat being carried by a tide northwards.


Dr. Bruce Beehler is an ornithologist, a scientist, and he's traveling North with The Spring. For BirdNote, I'm Dominic Black.


Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Swainson's Thrush [133353] recorded by G A Keller. Music: The Clare Reel, performed by Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, on the album Welcome Here Again.     
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black

© 2015 Tune In to  June 2015  Narrator: Dominic Black

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