The Science of Birds Podcast

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I would rather read rather than listen partly because my hearing isn’t what it used to be and I tend to be distracted while earbuds are inserted. But I do occasionally listen to podcasts, as many of you do, while tinkering, working in the garden, walking, or driving. I checked out a new one the other day called The Science of Birds. The title interested me, not just because I am interested and write about the science of birds myself, but that’s also the title of my website,

From the Science of Birds podcast website: “Ivan Phillipsen is the podcast host and the creator of The Science of Birds. He is a professional naturalist guide with a background in scientific research. Ivan has loved animals and nature his whole life. His first obsession was with amphibians and reptiles. This interest led him to graduate school, where he studied amphibians. After earning a Masters degree in Biology and a PhD in Zoology, he did postdoctoral research on aquatic insects. Ivan likes creepy, crawly things. Along the way, his love of nature expanded to include plants, fungi, and all animals, including birds. Birds have become Ivan’s greatest passion. He’s an avid birder and co-owns a birding ecotour company called Wild Latitudes. Some places where Ivan leads natural history tours are Mexico, Iceland, Alaska, Uganda, and Fiji.”

Of course, I had to listen to the podcast so I chose the latest one which was about doves and pigeons. Ivan said the podcast was meant to be entertaining, informative, and lighthearted, which it was, although the lightheartedness sometimes approached silliness. But no mind. It was a good podcast with interesting and accurate information. Nothing new to me in it, but I’m sure it would be informative to others.

The only very small bone to pick that I have is that of dove and pigeon names. Ivan correctly said there is no biological difference between a pigeon and a dove, and, drawing from his herpetological background, compared them to frogs and toads. There is no significant biological difference between frogs and toads, he says, but I disagree as there are significant differences in the typical toad and the typical frog, although with considerable overlap. Want to find out about the biological differences in frogs and toads? – Go here. Doves and pigeons differ not at all, although those birds with the dove name tend to be the smaller species.

But Ivan never got around to answering what I think is a pretty interesting question. If there is no difference in pigeons and doves, why the different names? (You can read that answer on one of my earlier blogs.) How about the frog and toad names? Frog is from Old English frogga, of Germanic origin, literally, “hopper.” Toad is from late Old English tadige, tadie, of unknown origin and was once applied to loathsome persons beginning in the 1560s.

Toads, frogs, pigeons, and doves, oh my. No matter. I recommend giving a listen to The Science of Birds.

5 thoughts on “The Science of Birds Podcast”

  1. Kristie Mamelli

    Great article! I didn’t know and loved how colorful pigeons can be.

    Question. I’ve been seeing birds, especially sparrows, with strange growths on their heads, beaks and feet. One had two perfectly round balls hanging from each foot.

  2. You don’t say where you live but there’s a disease spreading across the country from the eastern half. The mysterious disease or condition that has killed untold numbers of birds in Washington, D.C., and surrounding states has now been documented in three additional states — Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana — according to articles published this week by NBC News, The Guardian, and local news organizations. Previous reports had come from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

    Many of the avian victims have had crusty eyes and swollen faces, neurological problems, and have been unable to stay balanced or to fly. The most common species reported in the outbreak have been Blue Jays, Common Grackles, and European Starlings, according to NBC. No definitive cause of death has been identified so far, according to a U.S. Geological Survey statement issued on June 9. The foot condition might be a disease called bumblefoot.

    1. Kristie Mamelli

      I am located in Long Beach, California. I have my bird feeder in front of my kitchen window for about 6 years where I spend a little time, so have observed these “growths” just in the last 6 months or so. Maybe it’s a family in my neighborhood, that has them and they have passed on the genetics?

  3. Oh I love that podcast! Nice one to wind down to for the night.

    World of Birds, Always Be Birdin’, Bird Sh*t, and Bird note are also one’s I enjoy. 😀

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