October 2018

"Birdy" Podcasts

For those of us who haven't listened to a "podcast" before, the term itself can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, neither an iPod ("pod") nor tuning into a broadcast ("cast") are required. All that's needed is a device that can play the MP3 format that these recordings use - most cell phones and all computers can - and an internet connection to get the recordings onto the device.

While there are specialized programs (apps) that are designed just for this purpose, the podcasts listed below can be accessed through any web browser (Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, for example), and in most cases can be saved to the phone or computer for later offline listening (thus saving data plan charges on the road, if desired).

As the Rockin' Robin chorus again sings out its "tweedie-deedie-dee"s, it's time for another episode of Talkin' Birds[1], an independent radio production from the Northeast. This 30-minute delight is sponsored by Birdwatching Magazine, Birds and Beans Coffee, and the Birdwatchers' General Store, among others. Now at show #689, Ray Brown and his guests discuss a wide range of topics of interest to most anyone who would be reading this, and he even includes a call-in "Mystery Bird" feature for folks who are, in fact, streaming the show or listening through a live radio broadcast (what's that?!). Even listening later it's fun to try to identify the bird being featured. And, as the show is coming from the East Coast, it extends our West Coast sensibilities to see what songs/behaviors/descriptions we might recognize when the precise species is not actually found west of the Rockies, but the show's deep conservation commitment is applicable across the continent.

Directly produced by Birdwatcher's Digest, Out There With The Birds[2] features Bill Thompson, III, the editor and co-publisher, and Ben Lizdas, advertising sales director for BWD and its companion publication Watching Backyard Birds, both headquartered in Ohio. Not as tightly focused on birds as Talkin'Birds, OTWTB has offered 40 25-minute episodes covering deep, timely discussions of a great variety of bird science, trivia, and appreciation. A second podcast from the magazine, This Birding Life features personal observations of the joys and travails of world-wide birding.

A one-woman-show, Laura Erickson's For The Birds[3] has been on-air (and now on-line) since 1986, with every 3-5 minute spot still available from her website for timeless listening. Based in Minnesota, she deals with weather and warblers we westerners only dream of, but she is always interesting and of far wider relevance than just her local patch. Her bio on her website describes enough expertise and experience for a dozen people.

Each of the websites linked above offer three basic listening options: streaming, downloading, or podcast app. The easiest option is to click a link and listen. Each of these sites also have either a download link or icon provided for each episode, allowing them to be saved. Or, using a dedicated app such as iTunes, a visitor can also "subscribe" to the podcast "feed", and have it available without further action.

Other features from the three sources above include written blogs (such as For The Birds - see the upcoming November 2018 column), an "enhanced" podcast in M4V format with images from OTWTB, or even a "live stream" opportunity from Talkin' Birds - guess the secret bird and win!

Finally, Birdwatcher's Digest offers an excellent online set of explanatory Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)[4] about podcasts.

The Bird Wide Web™ will be publishing a new article on the beginning of each month.