BirdNote

Saturday at 8:57 a.m.

Listen and learn about the intriguing ways of birds with BirdNote, a weeky feature airing mornings on VPR.  From New England to the tropics, migration patterns to mating rituals, BirdNote brings you into the world of nature.  You'll also hear the featured bird each week, so don't be surprised if your cat runs for the radio on Saturday mornings!

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat April 19, 2014

BirdNote: Sapsuckers And Hummingbirds

A ruby-throated hummingbird (left) and a sapsucker (right).
Copyright Duane Bryce/Vitaliy-Khushtochka Timeflies

The sapsucker is a type of woodpecker that notches rows of small holes in trees, causing sap to well out. The birds eat the sugary liquid flowing from these sapwells. Now tree sap is similar in sugar content to the nectar hummingbirds take from flowers. And it is no coincidence that just as the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers get their sapwells flowing in spring, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds come migrating north.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat April 12, 2014

BirdNote: Unlikely Places To Go Birding

Copyright Jean-Sebastien Guenette pbase.com

Birding is often best in the least likely places. At sewage treatment plants, watch for ducks and gulls - and raptors keeping watch over them all. Another place might be your local landfill or dump. The Brownsville, Texas dump was, for years, the only place in the US you could find this Tamaulipas Crow. For a more sedate birding adventure, visit a cemetery. Especially in rural areas and in the Midwest, cemeteries are often repositories of native plants, and thus magnets for migratory birds, which find food - and cover - in those green oases.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat April 5, 2014

BirdNote: Birds Dress for Spring

An American goldfinch.
Copyright Paul Bannick

It's spring! And for many birds, a time to look their best to attract a new mate. This American Goldfinch has recently molted. Its old, worn-down feathers have fallen out, and new ones have grown in. When goldfinches molt in the fall, they lose these brightly colored feathers. Their winter camouflage helps them blend in with the drab background of the season.
 

Broadcast on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat March 29, 2014

BirdNote: What's Your State Bird?

A monument in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Copyright Terence Faircloth Flickr

All states have an official bird, usually one that's associated with its particular region. Many state birds are quite common, although Hawaii's chosen bird, the Nene, a type of goose, is endangered. The bird chosen by the most states - seven - is the Northern Cardinal, followed by the Western Meadowlark, picked by six. Connecticut, Michigan, and Wisconsin chose the American Robin. The California Gull saved the Mormons' first harvest in Utah and is commemorated by this monument in Salt Lake City.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat March 22, 2014

BirdNote: The Bird with Outrageous Legs

Copyright Greg Lavaty

Visit a shallow wetland in summer, and you might see this slender, black-and-white shorebird with outrageous red legs. The Black-necked Stilt uses its long legs for wading as it feeds on tiny insects and crustaceans on the surface of the water. Stilts are sensitive to drought, which has increased with global climate change. But they readily move to new breeding areas and respond quickly when new wetlands are created.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

BirdNote: Those Raucous Jays

A pair of bluejays.
Copyright by Tom Robbins (left)/Paul Bannick (right)

A raucous call and a bold flash of blue at your feeder means a jay has arrived. East of the Rockies, your visitor is quite likely a Blue Jay (left). Out west, you're probably seeing a Steller's Jay. These daring blue dandies sound the alarm, announcing the approach of a predator. Often the loud call sends the predator packing. If not, a family of jays may gang up and mob the intruder. And, if that doesn't work, the jay may mimic the call of a Bald Eagle or Red-tailed Hawk -- birds at the very top of the pecking order -- to dissuade the invader.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat March 8, 2014

BirdNote: Robins and Berries in Winter

A robin on a berry-laden branch.
Copyright Jeri Means flickr

It's mid-winter, and a passing flock of robins suddenly drops out of the sky. A moment ago, the yard was empty of birds, but now it's full. They settle in a bush laden with fruits. When the robins pass over a fruiting shrub, those red berries signal like a neon sign on a restaurant. Time to stop for a meal!

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Broadcast on Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8:57 a.m.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat March 1, 2014

BirdNote: Leaping With Sandhill Cranes

Dan Kaiser Flickr

With a graceful leap, wings outstretched, Sandhill Cranes welcome the longer days. The stately cranes are courting, renewing an annual dance they perform in earnest as the days lengthen into spring. Sandhill Crane pairs remain together for life, and their spirited dance plays an essential role in reaffirming this bond. Watch a video of their courtship dance.

Learn more about Sandhill Cranes.
 

Broadcast on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 8:58 a.m.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat February 22, 2014

BirdNote: Helping Purple Martins

Copyright by S&K Mfg. Co.

It won’t be long before North America’s largest swallows, Purple Martins, will be looking for places to nest. They’ll be arriving from as far away as Venezuela and Brazil. In eastern North America, where most martins breed, they nest almost exclusively in human-made houses - like the one pictured here. In the West, they also raise their young in natural cavities and woodpecker holes. Providing housing is important because Purple Martins are decreasing significantly in some regions.

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BirdNote
6:00 am
Sat February 15, 2014

BirdNote: The Elegant Black Tern

Copyright by Paul Higgins

Elegant Black Terns breed in summer on secluded wetlands across the northern states and Canada. Because of major losses of wetlands in their breeding range -- especially in Canada's prairie provinces -- Black Tern numbers have dropped dramatically since the 1960s. The future of this beautiful bird depends on protecting and restoring high-quality wetlands. Recent research shows that artificial nest platforms can enhance the terns' breeding success.

Learn more at BirdNote's website.
 

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