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vocalization

Spring Birds Arrive in the Eastern Forest

May in an Eastern hardwood forest, and the chorus of spring birdsong is nearing its peak. The Carolina Wren, a year-round resident, has been singing since the end of winter. The resounding notes of this Ovenbird let us know it has returned safely from Belize, after a long flight across the Gulf... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

American Woodcock - Timberdoodle

As the sun sets on a northern Midwest forest, an American Woodcock walks slowly from the cover of the forest to a nearby clearing. Then, the woodcock takes off on a courtship flight. At the apex of its flight, the woodcock circles, then descends in a slow spiral, putt-putting like a tiny car... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, vocalization

Song Sparrows Learn to Sing

Young male Song Sparrows learn about 10 songs from adult tutors - sometimes from their fathers, but not always. And they learn in stages: 1) "subsong," when the birds babble in a quiet and unstructured way; 2) the "plastic" stage, which contains recognizable adult syllables but is still wobbly,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

How Much Birds Sing

A typical songbird belts out its song between 1,000 and 2,500 times per day. Even though most bird songs last only a few seconds, that's a lot of warbling! A Yellowhammer, a European bunting, may sing over 3,000 times a day. But the Yellowhammer doesn't even come close to the North American... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Aldo Leopold and the Field Sparrows

The Field Sparrow was the first bird song Aldo Leopold awoke to on his farm in the 1940s. In his Sand County Almanac, a classic of conservation and nature writing, Leopold brought to life scenes of nature, a month at a time. Field Sparrows aren't as common today as they were in Aldo Leopold's day... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Night Singers

A bird like the Whip-poor-will is a true night bird – feeding, and mating, and nesting in the dark. But for about a week each spring, male Yellow-breasted Chats also sing in the darkness as they call out to the arriving females — their potential mates. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

American Bittern - Thunder-Pumper

American Bitterns nest in marshes across the northern half of the United States and throughout much of Canada, and they winter along both US coasts south into Central America. But in some places, bitterns are in serious trouble. Much of the extensive, shallow marshland they once bred in has been... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Singing Sandpipers

We've all seen sandpipers foraging busily on mudflats or at the ocean's edge. But this Lesser Yellowlegs often carols from the top of a tall conifer in its nesting territory in Alaska. The name "sandpiper" actually comes from the voices of these birds, rather than from their long-billed probing... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Common Potoo with Nancy Rumbel

The Common Potoo is a nocturnal bird of Central and South America, known for its camouflage plumage and upright perching. Nancy Rumbel, who composed the theme music for BirdNote, improvises here with the call of the Common Potoo. Using the pentatonic scale of the potoo, Nancy responds with her... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, vocalization

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet Tunes Up

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is one of the smallest songbirds on the continent, weighing in at just a little more than half a chickadee. Mostly green and hard to spot, it hovers in mid-air as it catches tiny insects. In early spring, the kinglet's rollicking song echoes from the forest edge in the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

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