91 episodes

The Science of Birds is a lighthearted exploration of bird biology. It's a fun resource for any birder or naturalist who wants to learn more about ornithology. Impress your birding friends at cocktail parties with all of your new bird knowledge! Hosted by Ivan Phillipsen, a passionate naturalist with a PhD in Zoology.

The Science of Birds Ivan Phillipsen

    • Science
    • 4.9 • 535 Ratings

The Science of Birds is a lighthearted exploration of bird biology. It's a fun resource for any birder or naturalist who wants to learn more about ornithology. Impress your birding friends at cocktail parties with all of your new bird knowledge! Hosted by Ivan Phillipsen, a passionate naturalist with a PhD in Zoology.

    Chickadees, Tits, and Titmice

    Chickadees, Tits, and Titmice

    This is Episode 91. It’s all about birds in the family Paridae. These are the chickadees, tits, and titmice—cute little forest-dwelling songbirds known and loved by many people around the world.

    I’ve had a lot of requests to make a podcast episode about chickadees and their kind. Some species in this family are familiar visitors to backyard bird feeders. They’re highly active, vocal, bold, and sometimes quite confiding with people. It’s possible to gain the trust of t**s and chickadees of some species by feeding them seeds out of the palm of your hand.

    These birds not only visit bird feeders regularly, at least in winter, but they’ll also happily lay eggs in artificial nest boxes. All of these traits make birds in the Paridae family great subjects for scientists who want to study bird behavior and ecology.

    So chickadees, t**s, and titmice are among the most well-studied songbirds on the planet. Lucky for us here on The Science of Birds podcast, that means there’s a lot we can learn about them
     
    Links of Interest
     Ground Tit [VIDEO] 
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Flowers and Feathers: The Importance of Birds as Pollinators

    Flowers and Feathers: The Importance of Birds as Pollinators

    This is Episode 90 and it’s all about the importance of birds as plant pollinators.

    If I had to use only one word for the topic of this episode, it would be ornithophily. The definition of ornithophily is “the pollination of flowers by birds.”

    Today, I’ll be focusing mostly on the ecological relationships between plants and the birds that pollinate them. Another way to look at all of this would be through the lens of evolution—the fascinating ways that plants and birds have co-evolved with respect to pollination.

    I’ll make another podcast episode, at some point, about bird and plant co-evolution. We’ll touch on it today, but the main focus is ecology. 

    Pollination ecology is actually an entire subdiscipline that many scientists have dedicated their careers to studying. It’s really interesting stuff!


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    • 44 min
    Fascinating Things We Learned About Birds Last Year

    Fascinating Things We Learned About Birds Last Year

    This is Episode 89. I’m publishing it right at the beginning of 2024, and it's a review of some fascinating things that happened in the world of ornithology and bird conservation over the last 12 months, in 2023.

    Naturally, this isn’t an exhaustive review of every scientific discovery about birds in 2023. That would be too much. An exhaustive review would be, well, exhausting. Maybe not for you, but definitely for me.

    Instead, I’ll tell you about a handful of studies and projects that I think you’ll find interesting. These gems were hand-selected by me for your educational pleasure.

    Links of Interest
    Colossal BiosciencesBirds, Not MosquitoesHow Wolbachia Can Save Forest Birds [VIDEO]Puzzle-solving caracaras [VIDEO]
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    • 43 min
    Owls

    Owls

    This episode—which is number 88—is all about owls. Owls are fascinating birds that have captured our imaginations since the dawn of humankind. They have amazing camouflage that allows them to blend in with their surroundings, and they have several other avian superpowers that set them apart from all other birds.

    Owls are divided into two families—Tytonidae and Strigidae—and we'll be discussing both of them today.

    Links of Interest
    Owl Notes–Denver Holt Shares the Short eared Owl's Courtship Flight [VIDEO]Long-whiskered Owlet (Xenoglaux loweryi) [VIDEO]The silent flight of an owl [VIDEO]Pellet.comWhat an Owl Knows [BOOK]
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    • 1 hr 28 min
    Avian Rebrand: New Names for Many North American Birds

    Avian Rebrand: New Names for Many North American Birds

    This episode—which is Number 87—is all about some big news in the birding world. The common names for about 150 North American bird species are going to change in the not-too-distant future.

    This comes from an announcement made by the American Ornithological Society just a few weeks ago, on November 1st.

    I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk about this. It’s a hot topic among birders right now. People have been asking me what I think about all these birds getting renamed. And so here we are.

    If you’re hearing about this for the first time, and you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry—I’ll explain.

    Yes, this is primarily relevant to birds and the humans who love them in the Western Hemisphere. Mostly North America for now.

    But similar changes may be on the horizon for your local birds, wherever you live. So I think you’ll find this interesting, even if you don’t live in the US or Canada.
     
    Links of Interest
    American Ornithological Society (AOS) Council Statement on English Bird NamesAOS Community Congress on English Bird Names [VIDEO]

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    • 46 min
    Bird Beaks: The Right Tool for the Job

    Bird Beaks: The Right Tool for the Job

    This episode—which is Number 86—is all about bird beaks.

    This will be an overview of beak anatomy, function, evolution, and diversity.

    The head of every bird on Earth is adorned with a beak. A bill. And to the delight of us all, those beaks come in a wild variety of shapes and colors.

    Just picture the mugs of toucans, vultures, ducks, parrots, flamingos, and pelicans.

    The diversity of beak shapes like these is one of the fascinating things about birds.

    Birds use their beaks for all sorts of tasks. These appendages are vital tools, used for getting food, for grooming, for communication, and more.

     
    Links of Interest
     The Mark My Bird Project

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    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
535 Ratings

535 Ratings

marketpop ,

Chickadees Titmouse

Don’t miss this episode!

Fozzy Q Bear ,

Excellent!

Excellent podcast! I have learned a lot. Ivan obviously loves what he does and it cones through in every episode.

MarinJeanne ,

So informative

Wonderful podcast about birds especially for beginning birders like myself. The information is presented in an easy to understand and engaging format. Such an enjoyable way to learn about birds from A to Z. Thank you.

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