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vocalization

Birds Return with the Light

Winter's weak light is finally beginning to strengthen, and some birds, long absent, have begun their journeys north. Tree Swallows, such as this one, phoebes, bluebirds, and more return with the light. So be of good cheer, the birds and Spring are coming back. You can learn more about this... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Bird Song ID

Roger Tory Peterson, the best known American figure of 20th Century birdwatching, offered help on birding by ear. Whenever he could, he provided a catchphrase to identify a bird's song. "Witchety-witchety-witchety" captures the song of this Common Yellowthroat. The California Quail seems to say, ... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, sound, vocalization

What Bird Has the Coolest Song?

There are more than 10,000 species of birds in the world, and each has a unique song. When we recently asked, "Which bird makes the coolest sound?" over 50 species were nominated! So which bird received the most votes? The Common Raven landed at number three, with the Western Meadowlark just... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Early Spring Songs (Bay-area, California version)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in California are American Robin (left), Fox Sparrow, and Wrentit. Listen to the songs of these birds, plus thousands of others at Cornell University's Macaulay Library website. Learn more... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (South Texas)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in south Texas are White-throated Sparrow, Cassin's Sparrow, and Purple Martin (left). And spring songs are breaking out all over the country. Listen to the songs of these early spring... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (SE Alaska)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in the SE Alaska are American Dipper (left), American Robin, and American Tree Sparrow. Listen to the songs of these early spring songsters and thousands of others at Cornell University's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Early Spring Songs (Washington State)

In March, we welcome the lengthening days and the renewal of bird song. Among the earliest spring singers in the Northwest is this House Finch, whose sweet, jumbled song carries along city blocks and rocky canyons. And spring songs are breaking out all over the country. Listen to the song of the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Spring Brings New Bird Songs

All winter long, our neighborhood House Finches--like this one--have called to one another with their distinctive, sweet cheeps. And our resident Song Sparrows, with calls that sound like a tiny barking dog. But as the days grow longer in late winter, the lengthening light helps trigger a bird's... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

How Birds Produce Sound

Nearly all birds produce sound through an organ unique to birds, the syrinx. In many songbirds, the syrinx is not much bigger than a raindrop. Extremely efficient, it uses nearly all the air that passes through it. By contrast, a human creates sound using only 2% of the air exhaled through the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science, vocalization

Henry David Thoreau and the Wood Thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: "This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning." Wood Thrushes thrive in large expanses of forest. And their numbers have... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

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