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BirdNote Presents

Stories that connect us more deeply with birds, nature, and each other. For Poetry Month, we're sharing work about our feathered friends from contemporary poets.Our previous series include Grouse and Sound Escapes.

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Stories that connect us more deeply with birds, nature, and each other. For Poetry Month, we're sharing work about our feathered friends from contemporary poets.Our previous series include Grouse and Sound Escapes.

Poetry Month: Heid E. Erdrich

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Heid E. Erdrich is the author of seven collections of poetry. Her writing has won fellowships and awards from the National Poetry Series, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Bush Foundation, Loft Literary Center, First People’s Fund, and other honors.

Erdrich has twice won a Minnesota Book Award for poetry. Heid edited the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations from Graywolf Press. Her forthcoming poetry collection is Little Big Bully, Penguin Editions, out Oct. 6th, 2020. Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. Read along with the poems below as you listen to the episode.

Apr 30 2021

9mins

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Poetry Month: Timothy Steele

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Timothy Steele is an American poet who has received numerous awards and honors for his poetry, including a Lavan Younger Poets Award, the Los Angeles PEN Center Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Robert Fitzgerald Award for Excellence in the Study of Prosody. He has taught at Stanford University and the University of California in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Since 1987, he has been a professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles.

Stele is known for his love of rhyme, meter, and traditional forms of poetry. He loves birds, and has had a number of poems inspired by encounters with them. Read along with the poems below as you hear them in the episode:

Apr 23 2021

9mins

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Poetry Month: Traci Brimhall

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A native of Minnesota, Traci Brimhall is an Associate Professor and Director of Creative Writing at Kansas State University. Her first published collection, Rookery, features many poems about birds.

“Birds just seem to have a kind of spiritual or symbolic weight,” Traci explains. “They feel somehow ancient or ethereal – timeless in a way, and I think poets are often attracted to things that have that sort of feeling.”

But her interest in birds began with a common bird, the Red-winged Blackbird. “Perhaps that's part of the greatness of common things,” she says. “They’re so accessible, so ever-present.”

You can read along with the poems featured in the episode on our website.

Apr 09 2021

8mins

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Poetry Month: Wendy S. Walters

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Wendy S. Walters is a non-fiction writer and poet, who holds a MFA/PHD in Poetry and Literature from Cornell University. She is the former Associate Dean of Art and Design History and Theory at Parsons, The New School. Currently she serves as Director of the Nonfiction Concentration and Associate Professor of Writing, Nonfiction in the School of the Arts at Columbia University.

While Walters was living in L.A. during the early 2000s, she wrote a chapbook, or short collection of poems, about the city called The Birds of Los Angeles. A number of themes are woven through the collection, including the Iraq War, trying to make sense of images, how we treat the things and people we love, and the birds that caught her attention.

  • Prophet as Slow Bird
  • Hollywood Finches
  • Either I Watch a War on TV

You can read the poems in today's episode on our website

Apr 02 2021

9mins

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Grouse: Bonus Guest Episode: The Spotted Owl

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This episode we're sharing "Timber Wars," from OPB. The show explores the fight over old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. And at the center of that fight was… a bird! The spotted owl became a lightning rod and a symbol of the divisions between timber interests and environmentalists back in the 90s. And there are some interesting parallels between the spotted owl and the greater sage-grouse and the fights it has sparked in sagebrush country, today. This is the third episode of the series, you can find the rest by searching "Timber Wars" wherever you get your podcasts. 

Nov 20 2020

33mins

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Introducing Threatened

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A new podcast from BirdNote about about the enduring connections between birds, people and landscapes. Join host Ari Daniel for an escape to the natural world — and a glimpse into the lives of the people working to protect it.

Subscribe to Threatened in your podcast app.

Nov 17 2020

1min

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Grouse: If Not Hope, Then Courage

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In the final episode of Grouse, Ashley returns to a lek in Washington with biologist Michael Schroeder and finds it scorched by recent wildfire. Michael cries as he looks out over an area that was once home to one of the largest remaining pockets of sage-grouse in the state. But he says he’s not ready to retire yet — there’s more work to be done. We’re all looking for hope right now, but Ashley says what we really need is the courage to keep fighting, loving and dancing, as the sage-grouse have shown us. We may not be able to save this bird, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cherish it and do our small part — whatever that may be — to try to keep these birds around.

Oct 27 2020

27mins

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Grouse: The Death of Compromise?

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Back in 2015, the Obama Administration hammered out a deal with leaders and land managers across the west that avoided listing the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act. It was a grand compromise that protected key sage-grouse habitat while allowing for continued access to sagebrush country for a diverse set of stakeholders, from ranchers and energy developers to recreational users. There were pats on the back and photo opps with folks in cowboy hats next to folks in Patagonia. And yet sage-grouse populations continue declining. Compromise makes us humans feel good, but does the sage-grouse have time for it?

Oct 20 2020

22mins

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Grouse: Oil and Gas

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Western Wyoming is home to many sage-grouse mating and nesting sites. And, in recent years, it’s also become a hub of oil and gas extraction. Matt Holloran knows this all too well. He did his PhD - back in 2000 - on sage-grouse and how natural gas drilling affects them, and has been studying the birds ever since. Ashley Ahearn heads to oil and gas country to visit a lek with Matt Holloran, and interview Paul Ulrich, VP of Jonah Energy, who says there’s “more work to be done” and it will involve bringing people together to look for shared solutions to keep sage-grouse around.

Oct 13 2020

19mins

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Grouse: The Story of the Grieving Woman and the Sage-Grouse

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The Greater Sage-Grouse appears in the the songs, stories and dances of many Indigenous Peoples of the West. In this episode of Grouse, Wilson Wewa, an elder of the Northern Paiute of the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon, remembers the first time he encountered a sage-grouse lek as a child. He also shares an ancient story from the Wasco Nation about a grieving woman who finds solace among the sage hens. We are losing these birds, Wilson says, but they can still provide important lessons about hope and joy in a world that is short on both.

Oct 06 2020

21mins

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Grouse: Is What’s Good for the Herd Good for the Bird?

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Sep 29 2020

22mins

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Grouse: Fire and the Questions It Raises

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Caleb McAdoo is a biologist with Nevada Fish and Game. He’s lived in sagebrush country his whole life — he loves this landscape — and now, he’s watching it disappear before his very eyes as cheatgrass and wildfire take over. In this episode of Grouse, join Ashley Ahearn for a trip to the vanishing sagebrush sea in Nevada — and find out what fire means for the Greater Sage-Grouse. 

Sep 22 2020

18mins

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Grouse: In Search of the Bird, Through Time

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Mike Schroeder has been studying sage-grouse in Washington state — where the population is declining — since the 1980s. Mike takes Grouse host Ashley Ahearn on a journey to find this troubled bird and explore some scientific and cultural lore surrounding it, from American Indians to Lewis and Clark to Roosevelt. Will they find any sage-grouse today? Why is this bird in so much trouble? Should anyone care?

Sep 15 2020

17mins

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Grouse: Stranger in a Strange Land

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Grouse series host Ashley Ahearn burns out on the urban rat race, leaves her job at a top NPR member station, and moves to 20 acres of sagebrush in rural Washington state. She discovers the Greater Sage-Grouse, a bird that is native to the land where she now lives — and fits in a whole lot better than she does. What is a sage-grouse, and why does everyone get so worked up about this bird?

Sep 15 2020

17mins

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Introducing Grouse

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The Greater Sage-Grouse has eclipsed the Spotted Owl as perhaps the most controversial North American bird in the 21st century. These strange, wonderful birds live exclusively in the sagebrush steppe of the intermountain west. But they are in decline and protecting them has sparked fights between stakeholders across the region. Host Ashley Ahearn is a newcomer to sagebrush country, and she uses her personal journey — as an outsider trying to understand rural life — to serve as the proxy for listeners. She went from filing news stories on deadline to herding cows on horseback — and she talks about it in the show, weaving together her flailing attempts to understand country life with her quest to understand what it is about the Greater Sage-Grouse that gets so many people riled up.

Grouse is an eight-part podcast series produced in partnership with BirdNote Presents and distributed in collaboration with Boise State Public Radio. The first two episodes premiere September 15th — subscribe today.

Aug 31 2020

1min

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Sound Escapes: Our Solar-Powered Jukebox

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In the season finale of Sound Escapes, acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton takes us on a whirlwind tour of nearly every habitat on the planet. From tropical forests to deserts to wetlands, you'll hear what the Earth truly is: music spinning in an otherwise silent space. 

Thank you for joining us on this sonic journey. We hope each episode brought you a sense of peace during these troubled times, and that you have tapped into your natural ability to listen deeply.

And now, let’s listen to the music of the Earth.

Jul 01 2020

1hr 2mins

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Sound Escapes: Mark Twain's Limpid Brook

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“By modern standards, Mark Twain was really a switched-on listener,” says our Sound Escapes host, Gordon Hempton. “He brilliantly used sound in the crafting of his novels. Birds would sing at the right time of day and in the right situations. He would use thunderstorms to mark the locations of Jim and Huck's journey down the Mississippi.” In this episode of Sound Escapes, we’ll explore what made Mark Twain such an astute listener. 

Gordon was particularly inspired by a passage in Twain’s autobiography, in which he describes "a limpid brook" on his Uncle Quarles’ farm near the town of Florida, Missouri. Gordon recreated the sounds of that clear, melodious brook using stones gathered from the original site, which is now a dry creek bed.

"Sonically, we have the interplay between the brook itself and the bird song," Gordon explains. "And it's really an uplifting experience."

Let's listen...

Jun 24 2020

25mins

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Sound Escapes: Song of the Paddle

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After a long winter in northern Minnesota, everything seems to awaken at once. From the songs of migratory birds to the croaks of frogs and toads, we can witness a wonderful rejuvenation.

In this episode of Sound Escapes, paddle a canoe through Voyageurs National Park alongside Gordon Hempton, the Sound Tracker. We'll hear the hauntingly beautiful duet of a pair of Common Loons — and learn why Gordon refers to cold water lakes as “magic amphitheaters.” 

Let’s listen…

Jun 17 2020

27mins

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Sound Escapes: The Poetics of Space

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Today we head to Pipestone Canyon in Eastern Washington, where you can hear a ridgetop wind come from a mile away. You can not only listen to the calls of animals in the distance, but also the waves of echos upon echos as the sound passes through the canyon: a form of dimensional information that Gordon Hempton calls, “The poetics of space.”

Let's listen...

Jun 10 2020

28mins

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Sound Escapes: Kalahari Sunrise

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Experience dawn in the Kalahari Desert as the sun rises over the sandy savannah in South Africa. It’s nearly level at this part of the Kalahari Desert. The trees are widely spaced. There’s almost no available water. You cannot see very far — the heat itself ripples the horizon. It's hard to imagine any animal feeling at home in this landscape — but they certainly sound like they are.

Let’s listen…

This podcast is made possible by Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle.

Jun 03 2020

25mins

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On repeat all day

By On Repeat, On Repeat - Oct 18 2019
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Grateful for this podcast in every sense.

Peaceful

By Worm--Doc - Sep 21 2019
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PLEASE make more of these.