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Connect to the Natural World Through the Sounds of Birds

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Jun 29, 2018 06:22 PM |

BirdNote, a radio show and podcast, has been telling stories about the birds we share the world with for 14 years.

Do you have two minutes? Then you have time to learn about the avian world. As a radio show and a podcast, BirdNote has been telling stories about the birds we share the world with for 14 years.

The show began when Chris Peterson, who was then the executive director for the Seattle Audubon, was driving and heard Stardate, a 2-minute insight into the cosmos, on the radio. She wondered to herself why no such show existed about birds—and wondered if it would be possible to create such a show. She connected with John Kessler, who is still the show’s producer, and the show began airing in 2004.

Hummingbird. Photo by Stephen Chan.
Photo by Stephen Chan. 

For the early stories, Chris reached out to the many people she knew in the birding world and they began recording stories. There was such positive feedback, that soon it was broadcast all over the country.

Jason Saul, the managing producer for BirdNote, says that while the show is broadcast nationally, it’s home is here in the Northwest and on KNKX.

“The Pacific Northwest really attracts people who have an abiding love for the outdoors,” he said.

And that includes a wide-range of interests, including naturalists, conservations, duck hunters, hikers and so many more. Birds are what bring them all together, and that means BirdNote is for all of them.

Listeners learn about bird songs, of course, but also about so much more. BirdNote’s focus is usually on the more common birds, rather than the more fantastical. While listening, you’re likely to hear about a bird you could see in your daily life, such as crows, robins or chickadees.

And for hikers, it’s a way to make your hikes an even richer experience.

Owl. Photo by Mel Pappas.
Photo by Mel Pappas.

“I do a lot of hiking myself, I use the WTA website all the time,” Jason said. “Starting to listen to BirdNote and listening to the differentiation between different bird sounds starts to open up the world around you in a way that you sight doesn’t. You’re never really alone—there are creatures all around you, you’re in a continuum of life. Learning what those creates are makes for a much richer natural experience.”

And you’re also connecting to other people.

“There is no more powerful way to tell a story than through the human voice, Jason said. “That is the way we tell each other stories. … BirdNote is connecting people through sound and I think that’s beautiful.”

Want to know more about birds? Read our story with tips on how to learn bird calls, as well as basic advice for hikers who also love to watch birds.