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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

Navigating by Earth's Magnetic Field

How do birds navigate? They steer by landmarks and by the sun and stars. A keen sense of smell helps some birds chart their course. And, it turns out, migrating birds also find their way by responding to the magnetic field of the earth. Iron-rich magnetic crystals inside the upper beak of this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, science

No Pounding Headache

The Pileated Woodpecker makes loud, hard whacks, as it leans back and then slams its bill into the side of a living tree. Sounds painful, if not downright disabling! How does the woodpecker's brain withstand it? All woodpeckers have an enlarged brain case, so the brain sits above the level of... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

What Is Nature Worth?

What is nature worth? Can its value be quantified? Some natural resource economists and policy-makers say it's important to have a common language of dollars and cents when making decisions about land use and environmental management. Dr. Robert Costanza says that nature provides us with many... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Winter - Nature's Cold Storage

For birds and other animals with good natural insulation, winter provides a striking benefit as they scavenge. Bacteria function very slowly or not at all in the cold, preventing dead bodies from rotting. In northern latitudes, ravens and other scavenging birds take advantage of winter's cold... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Scrub-Jays Plan Breakfast

Caroline Raby and others at Cambridge University conducted experiments with Western Scrub-Jays, playing off the birds' natural tendency to cache food. In the first experiment, the jays cached food in the room where they expected to go hungry the following morning. In the second, they received two... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

When Birds Ruled the Earth

A bird known as Titanis walleri made its home in Florida just a few million years ago. Titanis, as its name suggests, was titanic indeed - a flightless predator, ten feet tall, with a massive hooked bill. Titanis and other birds related to it belong to a group some paleontologists call the ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  fossil, science

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