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vocalization

Solon Towne and the Meadowlarks

Over a century ago, a Nebraska man — an audiologist by training — named Solon Towne “collected” the songs of meadowlarks. According to his daughters, he’d saunter about their farm, listening carefully. Then he’d hurry back to his desk to transcribe the birds’ songs into musical notes. To help him... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Two Phoebes Share the West

In the American West, there are two species of phoebe that share the same expansive country. But they occupy different habitats. The Say’s Phoebe prefers dry, open country ranging from tundra to desert. This Black Phoebe is a close cousin to the Say’s. But it is nearly always hunting alongside... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Decibels Per Gram

Some of the tiniest birds in the world have impressively loud voices. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet — that bright-headed sprite of the treetops — would be downright deafening if it were just a little bigger. Hummingbirds were originally named for the mechanical buzzing produced by their inconceivably... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

The Phoebe and the Pewee

The Eastern Phoebe (pictured here) is one of the most familiar flycatchers east of the Rockies. Because the Eastern Phoebe repeats its name when it sings, it’s a pretty straightforward voice to identify and remember. But there’s another flycatcher east of the Rockies that whistles its name over... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Australia's Rainforest Birds

The rainforests of Eastern and Northeastern Australia harbor many species of birds found almost nowhere else. This Eastern Whipbird — which is more often heard than seen — hangs out in the dense understory. Easier to lay eyes on is the large, pigeon-like Wompoo Fruit-Dove. Feathered in a stunning... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

The vernal equinox, the first day of spring. The moment when the sun is directly above the equator, and day and night are nearly equal all over the world. Yet birds sense the growing hours of daylight through a surge of hormones. It’s time to sing! Both science and folklore tie spring to the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Costa Rica Winter Sunrise

Explore the magical sounds and sights of Costa Rica with BirdNote in March 2018.Learn more and register here. And experience this:On a winter morning in Costa Rica, a colorful choir welcomes the day. A pair of Bay Wrens sings a brisk duet just before sunrise. Perched in the upper canopy of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  sound, vocalization

Winter Birds of Southern Florida

It’s winter in North America — a good time to head for the subtropical realms of South Florida and listen to the region’s birds, such as the secretive Mangrove Cuckoo pictured here. Rarely seen, it sings sporadically in winter. When it does, you’re sure to take notice. A sweeter voice belongs to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Starling Mimicry

The searing cry of a Red-tailed Hawk pierces the air. The distinctive scream is coming from a tree nearby. But when you scan the tree for the form of a hawk, you see only a small, black bird. You’ve been fooled. It’s a starling giving voice to the hawk’s cry. The European Starling — the continent... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

What Kind of Music Is Bird Song?

Composers from Vivaldi to Beethoven have been inspired by birdsong. But how similar is birdsong to the music we create? Two recent studies offer contrasting answers. One analysis used nearly 250 song examples of the Nightingale Wren, pictured here, a tropical bird widely admired for its haunting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, science, vocalization

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