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BirdNote
Weekdays at 10:58 a.m.

BirdNote is an independent media production organization that brings joy, inspiration, and hope to millions of people around the world who value birds and the environment we share. BirdNote Daily is a two-minute show broadcast on over 250 public radio stations.

  • Do vultures detect carrion by sight or by smell? The lightbulb moment came to ornithologist Kenneth Stager when a Union Oil employee told him of vultures congregating at the spots along pipelines where gas leaks were occurring. Why would they do that? Because a key ingredient in the odor of carrion is ethyl mercaptan — the same substance companies add to odorless natural gas in their pipelines, so they could smell if there was a leak. So now we know that vultures can spot carrion by either sight or smell.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • Great Blue Herons nest in colonies, in adjoining trees or with several nests in one tree. But by autumn, the adults and gangly young have left the nests to take up solitary lives, a pattern that is the reverse of many other species. After all the "togetherness" of the nesting colonies, the Great Blue Herons spend the off-season by themselves.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • It’s easy to imagine that putting up a birdhouse or nestbox is a relatively recent practice. But in Turkey, it has a long history. Since at least the 13th century and continuing through the period of Ottoman rule, birdhouses were placed on all sorts of structures: mosques (like this one – the Yeni Valide Mosque in Üsküdar, Istanbul, Turkey), schools, libraries, houses, tombs, bridges, and palaces. In this culture, birdhouses were viewed as an expression of love and compassion for animals. The Ottomans even endowed charities to provide food and water for birds and to care for sick birds.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • If you see a wild bird with a small metal band around its leg, that means researchers have given the bird a unique ID to keep track of it over the course of its life. You can report the sighting to the Bird Banding Laboratory, a part of the U.S. Geological Survey that studies banded birds across the continent. Analyzing where and when banded birds are seen helps biologists figure out bird lifespans, migratory routes, and how their populations are changing.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • Tucked away in southeast Texas is one of the most remarkable enclaves of nature. Known as The Big Thicket, this region is home to ten different ecosystems, including cypress bayous, arid sandylands, palmetto thickets, pine forests, marshes, and grasslands. The variety of natural landscapes provides habitat for a broad array of birds, including this Prothonotary Warbler.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • Thousands of years ago, giant raptors lived on what is now Cuba. Gigantohierax is an extinct genus of eagles whose fossils have been found in local cave deposits and tar seeps. With an estimated weight of nearly 30 pounds, Gigantohierax suarezi, the larger of the two named species, would’ve been the biggest raptor known from the Americas.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • Of the four nuthatch species living in the United States, the most common are the Red-breasted Nuthatch, seen left here, and the White-breasted Nuthatch, on the right. The nuthatch's insistent call matches its aggressiveness. As it works its way down a tree trunk, the nuthatch can spot-and eat-all the tasty morsels missed by the rest of the birds working their way up the tree.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • California's Salton Sea is hot and smelly - and it's also a Mecca for thousands of wintering birds. This inland sea formed when the Colorado River breached floodgates in 1905, forming a lake 45 miles long. The lake has diminished in size and greatly increased in salt concentration, but a single introduced fish - the African tilapia - persists in abundance. Seabirds visit the Salton Sea to feed on them. The smell comes from occasional massive die-offs of the fish, so abundant that their bones make up the shoreline. Every winter, the salty waters support hordes of water birds, including shorebirds, herons, cormorants, pelicans, and waterfowl. Check it out!More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • Is there any doubt about the identity of America's best known red bird? Surely it's the cardinal or, as you'll find it in a bird book, the Northern Cardinal. The beautiful bird seen on so many bird feeders takes its name from the cardinals found in the Vatican, whose hats and robes are red. Only the male cardinal — seen right here — is red; females are a tasteful olive-brown with red highlights. Share this show with someone who likes cardinals. Thanks!More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.
  • Common Poorwills don’t sing much when the mercury drops. But they can do something else that is remarkable. As the winter cold deepens, these petite members of the nightjar family can enter a hibernation-like state — and stay like that for hours — or even weeks! Scientists call it torpor. It happens when an animal slows its body functions to conserve energy and heat.More info and transcript at BirdNote.org. Want more BirdNote? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. Sign up for BirdNote+ to get ad-free listening and other perks. BirdNote is a nonprofit. Your tax-deductible gift makes these shows possible.