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science

Why Bird Poop Is White

Birds brighten our lives. They connect us with nature. But sometimes they connect us a bit too directly with nature. Park under the wrong tree - where a flock of starlings or grackles comes to roost - and nature may cover your car so thickly that it takes a trip or two through the carwash just to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

The Things That Wings Can Tell You About a Bird

One of the reasons we birders are so fascinated by our feathered friends is certainly related to their mastery of the air. They can fly and our terrestrial species has always viewed flight as an enviable, sometimes magical ability. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  flight, plumage, science

Alexander Archipelago - Lessons for Climate Change

How will birds and other wildlife respond to global climate change? We can learn many lessons from the Alexander Archipelago, a chain of islands in southeast Alaska. Less than 10,000 years ago, these islands were covered by ice. Sea levels were 100 meters lower than today, allowing many species... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Sapsuckers and Sap

Sapsuckers, a specialized group of woodpeckers, don’t actually suck sap. After pecking neat rows of small holes in trees to cause the sugary liquid to flow, the birds lick it up with tongues tipped with stiff hairs. So why doesn’t a sapsucker’s beak get stuck shut? Part of the answer may lie in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Galapagos Archipelago - Melville's Encantadas

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, described the Galapagos, a group of volcanic islands in the Pacific, as: "an archipelago of aridities, without inhabitant, history, or hope of either in all time to come." Charles Darwin also found the Galapagos' stark landscape on first view hellish to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Trans-Gulf Migration and Oil Platforms

Every spring, birds like this Orchard Oriole and many others are arriving after a long flight across the Gulf of Mexico. Beginning in 1998, a handful of observers -- each assigned to a different oil platform -- began to monitor bird migration between March and May, as far as 100 miles out in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Birds' Senses

I have been asked how birds that feed by probing in mud locate their food – Which of their senses are they using?They are using the exact sense you would use, whether probing with your fingers or your nose – the sense of touch. Most of the birds that probe in mud for prey are sandpipers, varying... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Follow Island Girl with Bud Anderson

"Peregrine" means "wanderer." And Island Girl, a Peregrine Falcon, has made the 18,000-mile round-trip journey from the high arctic of Canada to southern Chile three times. Bud Anderson of the Falcon Research Group calls her "a master of the air." Using satellite telemetry, he invites people to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Mapping Songbird Migration with Geolocators

Devices called geolocators are giving us new insights into how, when, and where birds migrate. They record daily changes in light levels at different latitudes and longitudes by recording the time of each sunrise and sunset. And by attaching them to migrating birds - like this Red Knot -... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Red-tails and Airports

To protect passengers, planes, and birds at Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, biologists Bud Anderson of the Falcon Research Group and Steve Osmek capture, relocate, and monitor Red-tailed Hawks. The birds are banded, wing-tagged, and released 80 miles north. Bud says, “Almost none of them come back to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

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