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The Science of Birds

A Birds, Nature and Science podcast featuring Ivan Phillipsen
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Episodes of The Science of Birds

This episode—which is Number 69—is all about the avian skeleton. Bird bones.So this is an episode about some basic anatomy of birds.Bird bones and the avian skeleton are elegant, strong, and rigid.  Let’s put on our x-ray goggles, and peer insi
Today’s episode is number 68. It’s all about the family of birds called Bucerotidae. These are the hornbills.Maybe you’ve heard about hornbills and know a few facts about them. Or maybe you’ve never even heard about these birds. Either way, I t
This is Episode Number 67. It’s the last episode of 2022, so that means it’s the Annual Review!We’re going to look back at 2022, at some of the most interesting scientific studies of birds that were published this year. Will this be a painstaki
This episode—which is Number 66—is all about the ways you can help birds. How you can make a difference in their conservation.It’s one thing to enjoy learning about birds in an objective, scientific way. They’re fascinating organisms.But does o
This is Episode 65, and it’s all about waxwings—birds in the family Bombycillidae. The Cedar Waxwing is one species, and there are two others that we’ll talk about.These beautiful, elegant songbirds are loved by people across the Northern Hemis
This episode—which is Number 64—is all about the importance of temperate grasslands as habitat for birds.When we say “temperate grasslands,” we mean those generally occurring in the middle latitudes.Temperate grasslands exist in several parts o
This episode—which is Number 63—is about the Common Raven, Corvus corax. This species is also known as the Northern Raven.Few bird species in the world are as geographically widespread as the Common Raven. And few are as familiar and iconic. Th
This episode—which is Number 62—is all about the major geographic divisions among birds across the planet.Why are bowerbirds found only in Australia and on the islands of New Guinea? Why are the birds you see in India so different from those in
This is Episode 61, and it’s all about Ostriches. These are the birds in the avian family Struthionidae.Ostriches are among the most recognizable and charismatic birds. No living bird is bigger than an ostrich. If you’ve ever seen one up close,
This episode—which is Number 60—is about Feeding Wild Birds. As in, humans providing supplemental food for wild birds.This typically involves a contraption called a birdfeeder. When you or I hang up a birdfeeder, we’re feeding wild birds intent
This episode—which is Number 59—is a bit different. Today, I’m going to be answering questions from my listeners. More specifically, these questions come from my supporters on Patreon. I have several “tiers” or “membership levels” on my Patreon
Today’s episode—which is Episode 58—is all about birds in the family Troglodytidae. These are the wrens.Wrens are small, perky songbirds, most of which are some shade of brown. All the species in this family of birds are found in the New World—
This episode—which is Number 57— is all about the flocking behavior of birds.Birds of many species spend at least part of their yearly cycle hanging out in groups. This could be just a handful of individuals or it could be a gathering of millio
This episode—which is Number 56— is all about the colors of birds.The diversity of color in bird plumages is one of the things we love most about these animals.But bird plumages are impressive not only when they display vibrant colors plucked f
This is Episode 55. It’s all about birds in the avian family Phoenicopteridae. These are the flamingos.No doubt you already know a fun fact or two about flamingos. These birds are crowd pleasers that get a lot of attention. But today we’re doin
This episode—which is Number 54—is all about bird eggs. This is an important topic. Eggs are a fundamental aspect of bird biology. Recently, in Episode 49 of the podcast, I covered the topic of nests. So it seems like a logical next step for us
This episode—which is Number 53—is all about Avian Influenza. Or colloquially what we call the Avian Flu or Bird Flu.Depending on where you live, you might have noticed news headlines in recent months about the frightening spread of Avian Flu a
This is Episode 52. Today, we’re talking about bird species that are way, way bigger than your average chickadee or finch.Our focus will be on evolutionary lineages that spawned some very large bird species. Species whose ancestors had been muc
This is Episode 51. Our bird of interest today is the Northern Cardinal, Cardinalis cardinalis.This species is widespread across the eastern and southern US. It’s so well-known and loved that it’s the state bird for 7 states—more than any other
This episode—which is Number 50— is all about Female Birdsong. Songs are one of the things we love most about birds. They define the soundscapes of the natural world. Even though humans have been surrounded by singing birds for millions of year
This episode—which is Number 49—is all about bird nests. There are tons of fun facts fun facts here, since nests are one of the more impressive aspects of bird behavior and breeding biology.We’ll go over the functions of nests, the challenges t
This episode—which is Number 48—is about the “Pecking Order” in birds. Or, to use the more technical term, dominance hierarchy. Our focus will be on dominance hierarchies that we see among birds within a single species. White-crowned Sparrows b
This is Episode 47. It’s all about birds in the family Laridae. This is an ancient evolutionary lineage that originated over 70 million years ago, when the world was still ruled by dinosaurs.Besides gulls and terns, the family Laridae also incl
This episode—which is Number 46—is about  a special place in the Malay Archipelago where two bird worlds collide. This region lies between Southeast Asia and Australia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. And it’s crowded with about 25,000 i
This episode is all about forensic ornithology. This is a field where specialists use scientific techniques to identify bird species from trace evidence. Evidence like maybe a bit of feather, a bone fragment, or a smear of blood. Forensic ornit
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