Therapeutic Noise


Sedge Wren. Photo: Ben Cvengros/Audubon Photography Awards

Thanks to Audubon for pointing us in this direction:

Around the World, the Soothing Sounds of Birdsong Are Used as Therapy

The natural tunes decrease stress while possibly invigorating the mind.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

In a children’s hospital in Liverpool, England, the sweet sounds of birdsong carry along the hallways. It’s a recording of the dawn chorus from a nearby park, and the intent is to calm the anxious young patients…

Audubon’s 2019 Photography Awards Winners

Red-winged Blackbird. Photo: Kathrin Swoboda/Audubon Photography Awards

Thanks to the judges who chose the Grand Prize Winner (above) in this year’s contest, among an impossibly great selection. (Not to mention an extra applause to Audubon for adding the Citizen Science centric Plants for Birds category.

Birds make fascinating subjects, as the winners and honorable mentions of this year’s contest, our 10th, make clear. They’re at once beautiful and resilient, complex and comical. It’s no wonder why we love them so.

The images that won the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards, presented in association with Nature’s Best Photography, are as impressive as ever, but attentive readers might notice a few more images than usual. That’s because we’ve added two awards. The Plants for Birds category is inspired by Audubon’s Plants for Birds program, supported by Coleman and Susan Burke, which provides resources for choosing and finding plants native to zip codes in the United States. This category poses a new challenge to photographers: Don’t just capture an incredible moment—make sure it also features a bird and plant native to the location in which the photo was taken in order to highlight the critical role native habitat plays in supporting bird life. And in the spirit of Kevin Fisher, Audubon’s longtime creative director who recently retired, the Fisher Prize recognizes a creative approach to photographing birds that blends originality with technical expertise. The winning image, which Kevin himself selected from among the finalists, pushes the bounds of traditional bird photography.

We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all 2,253 entrants, hailing from all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and 10 Canadian provinces and territories. Your dedication to appreciating, celebrating, and sharing the wonder of birds and the landscapes they inhabit inspires us now and throughout the year.

The 2019 APA Judges

Steve Freligh, publisher, Nature’s Best Photography

Melissa Groo, wildlife photographer and winner of the 2015 contest’s Grand Prize

Kenn Kaufman, bird expert and Audubon magazine field editor

Sabine Meyer, photography director, National Audubon Society

Allen Murabayashi, chairman and co-founder, PhotoShelter

John Rowden, director of community conservation, National Audubon Society

Judging criteria: technical quality, originality, artistic merit

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Audubon’s Reasonable Request


Northern Harrier. Photo: Diana Whiting/Audubon Photography Awards

A message from friends:

NEW YORK — “Audubon is committed to protecting birds and the places they need — and the greatest threat to birds and people is climate change,” said David Yarnold (@david_yarnold), president and CEO of National Audubon Society.

“While some may be holding out for a perfect solution to climate change, we know that it will take an array of approaches to reduce planet-warming pollution.

“The Carbon Capture Coalition is pursuing many avenues—including a market-driven approach that has deep bipartisan support. Audubon is excited to be at the table with a range of voices exploring policy options that accelerate a reduction in carbon pollution,” Yarnold added.

The Carbon Capture Coalition is led by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Great Plains Institute. With over 50 members ranging from the energy industry, agriculture, labor unions and conservation leaders, the coalition is non-partisan and solutions-oriented. Recently, the coalition successfully advocated for improving and extending the carbon capture tax credit, known as the 45Q tax credit, led by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John Barrasso (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). Continue reading

Audubon’s 2017 Photography Awards Winners


Gentoo Penguins. Photo: Deborah Albert/Audubon Photography Awards

Thanks to the judges who chose the Grand Prize Winner (above) in this year’s contest, among an impossibly great selection:

The more than 5,500 photos entered in this year’s contest, our eighth, show birdlife at its most vivid, vulnerable, formidable, and elegant. Photographers from 49 states and eight Canadian provinces submitted images in three categories: professional, amateur, and youth. While it wasn’t easy whittling those down, the following seven images proved exceptional. The category winners, in addition to garnering cash and trip prizes, are being displayed within the 2017 Nature’s Best Photography Exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.  Continue reading

Birding By Season

Violet-crowned, blue-throated and magnificent hummingbirds, along with a dozen other bird species, have been recorded at the the Conservancy’s 380-acre Ramsey Canyon Preserve. © Teagan White

Violet-crowned, blue-throated and magnificent hummingbirds, along with a dozen other bird species, have been recorded at the the Conservancy’s 380-acre Ramsey Canyon Preserve. © Teagan White

Thanks once again to the Nature Conservancy’s Cool Green Science blog for simultaneously highlighting conservation history as well as inspiration to spend time outdoors. We stand with the TNC and all organizations in support of the legendary legislation that illustrates the core principles of wildlife and land stewardship.

The Audubon Society states it simply, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects birds from depredatory human activities. And the more we involve ourselves in birding activities, the more appreciation and awareness we have for the fragility of our ecosystems and the biodiversity they sustain.

 A Birding List for the New Year

In 2016, birders celebrated the centennial of the signing of the United States’ Migratory Bird Treaty. In 1918, the resulting legislation became one of the country’s first major pieces of environmental law. Today birders reap the benefits of the act, which barred, among other things, the hunting of migratory birds during nesting and mating seasons.

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Birding’s Big Catch

The world of birding, it is safe to say, is growing. Occasionally we read about a noted person having established a passion for birdwatching and/or related conservation. Normally we do not take a humorist literally, but David Letterman, in announcing his retirement, seemed to give birds and in particular a newfound interest in bird identification a special credit in realizing he wanted to do something else with his time now:

…Letterman told the audience that people have always asked him how long he would continue to host. His answer is usually, “When this show stops being fun — I will retire 10 years later.”

Continuing his tale, Letterman said that he wanted to share an anecdote: Last fall, he went fishing with his 10-year-old son, Harry, and during the outing, they saw a giant, crazy-looking bird. So when Letterman got into work that following Monday, he spent the entire day making calls to bird societies, e-mailing the photo to his outdoorsy friends, and launching a full-scale investigation to find out what type of bird they saw. Continue reading

Collective Memory

Woodpecker specimens, Ornithology Department, Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology

When the oldest birding group in  the U.S. gets together woodpeckers and their historical significance among endangered bird species are often the order of the day.  The Nuttall Ornithology Club held one of their last meetings of 2011 at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, excitedly taking advantage of such a rich resource that includes specimens that have both ornithological and historical value.

The Nuttall club goes way beyond the garden variety birding group. Qualification for membership includes examples of ornithological scholarly publication, education, research and conservation efforts. Roger Tory Peterson, (of guidebook fame) is an example of the group’s “high bar”.


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