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backyard sanctuary

Snatching Berries on the Wing

When American Robins gather to pluck berries, you can expect to see a lot of fluttering. The robins are heavy, making it a lot harder to perch and creep along a thin stem. And they have long, strong legs because they spend so much time walking and hopping on the ground in search of food. An easy... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Who Likes Suet?

Chickadees and titmice, nuthatches and jays, and woodpeckers, like the Pileated pictured here, all love suet. As do birds whose beaks can’t open seeds, like tiny kinglets, and almost any wintering warbler. The Brown Creeper, usually creeping up tree trunks, is a cool bird to discover at your suet... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, birdfeeding

America's Love of the Lawn

According to NASA, there are about 63,000 square miles of lawn in the US — nearly enough to cover the state of Wisconsin. That’s bad news, because most birds (other than this European Starling) prefer shrubs that provide food and cover. And lawns suck up fertilizers, herbicides, fossil fuels, and... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary

Screech-Owls Are Looking for a Home

Looking for a project this winter? Consider giving screech-owls a helping hand. Eastern and Western Screech-Owls span the wooded areas of the continent, nesting in tree cavities left vacant by large woodpeckers. However, such natural housing opportunities are often in short supply. That’s where... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, nesting

What's Different this Year? We Ask Listeners

BirdNote asked our Facebook fans about the birds they observed in their yards this spring. Some people say they have more birds. Others say fewer. And why? Changes in habitat mean changes in species. In one person’s yard on San Juan Island, in Washington State, more trees mean more Barred Owls.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, gardening

Robins Are Very Choosy Nesters

When scientists looked at climate data for more than 8,500 robins’ nests in the US, they found that robins will nest only if the mean noon temperature is between 45 and 65 degrees. But even more critical is relative humidity: it needs to be around 50 percent in the middle of the day. What’s so... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, ecology, nesting, science

Alex Chadwick in Big Bend: An Oasis for Birds

Carolyn Ohl-Johnson found a home — and a way of life — near Big Bend National Park. BirdNote contributor Alex Chadwick visited Carolyn at the desert oasis she created for birds such as this Magnificent Hummingbird. But her accomplishment has required tremendous sacrifice. “I haven’t seen my great... read more »


Alex Chadwick in Big Bend: Banding Hummingbirds

BirdNote contributor Alex Chadwick visited the outskirts of Big Bend National Park in Texas to meet with Kelly Bryan, a retired park manager and biologist who spends his days placing tiny bands on hummingbirds to better know their habits. Kelly has banded more than 14,000 birds!Funding for the... read more »


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... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary, ecology, migration

Sanctuary and Bird Sound - with Patti McLead

When Patti and Patrick McLead purchased land near the Edwards Plateau in Texas, they wanted to create a bed and breakfast that doubled as a bird sanctuary. They built cottages and created a meadow. When they put in a pond, birds were quick to respond. This Black-crested Titmouse is among the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  backyard sanctuary