What We Like to Watch, Read, and Listen to About Nature

As our science staff have been spending more time at home, they’ve been reminded of all of their favorite nature-themed videos, podcasts, radio shows, tv shows, movies, and books, and have found new ones to enjoy as well. Check these out when you find yourself needing something to do.

Podcasts and Radio Shows

  • Ologies: Each week science correspondent and humorist Alie Ward sits down with a professional “-ologist” to ask smart people stupid questions. Episodes range across a wide variety of topics from ornithology (birds), mycology (fungi), and chiropterology (bats), to topics you may have never known existed like ferroequinology (trains) and vexillology (flags)!
  • Wild Ones Live: Mass Audubon’s Director of Conservation Science, Jeff Collins, heard this late one night driving home from the airport, and says, “it’s the strangest, most hopeful audio experience about wildlife conservation.” Author Jon Mooallem, performs excerpts from his book “Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America” with musical accompaniment.
  • The Natural Experiment: An episode from 99% Invisible about how the COVID shutdown is opening opportunities for scientific research (ex: listening to humpback whales without the sounds of boats competing)
  • Living on Earth: Living on Earth with Steve Curwood is the weekly environmental news and information program distributed by PRX. The show is located at the School for the Environment at UMass Boston.
  • Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds: Talkin’ Birds is a live and interactive radio show about wild birds and the beauty of nature. Their mission is to encourage appreciation of our natural world and to promote the preservation and protection of our environment.
  • Mardi Dickinson’s Bird Calls Radio: a podcast with interviews of well-known birders on a wide range of birding topics and subjects.
  • Weekly Bird Report for the Cape and Islands: Mass Audubon’s Mark Faherty gives the weekly bird report for the Cape and Islands covering bird migration, unusual nest sites, and other interesting bird facts.
  • VCE’s Outdoor Radio: Our friends at Vermont Center for Ecostudies provide entertaining audio rambles through the forests, fields, and wetlands of our neighbor to the north. 
Jeff Collins, Director of Conservation Science, enjoys one of his favorite podcasts while keeping an eye out for birds.

Videos, TV Shows, and Movies

  • Round Planet:  If you like BBC’s Planet Earth and want to bust a gut laughing like the hyenas and kookaburras, check out this BBC show. Award-winning writers combine factually accurate comedy and incredible natural history footage to tell amazing stores of wildlife around the world.
  • Trees with Don Leopold– Always wanted to learn more about trees and how to identify them? Check out these short videos with Dendrologist Don Leopold as he introduces you to trees found in the northeast.
  • Learn How to Draw A Chickadee from David Sibley
  • True Facts About The Owl: Learn some fun facts about owls.
  • Stuff* Birders Say and Stuff* Nonbirders Say to Birders: birders and friends of birders alike will find these videos hilariously true. (*this is a replacement for another word starting with “S”)
  • Nature Moments: Nat Wheelwright, a Maine Audubon board member, has created a series of videos about the natural world.
  • Night On Earth: A docuseries that uses night-vision camera technology to show nocturnal wildlife around the globe (available on Netflix).
  • Dancing with Birds: A documentary that follows birds of paradise as they try to attract mates in elaborate ways (available on Netflix).
  • Our Planet: Experience our planet’s natural beauty and examine how climate change impacts all living creatures in this ambitious documentary of spectacular scope (available on Netflix).

Books

There are, of course, many books that we could recommend, but for now we’ve focused on a few that are available as eBooks since libraries and many bookshops are closed.

  • Birder murder mysteries by Steve Burrows: Director of Bird Conservation, Jon Atwood, has been enjoying these fun books lately as a way to relax!
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren: In this memoir, professor and geobiologist Dr. Hope Jahren beautifully weaves stories from her childhood and research to explore life as a woman in science, passion and curiosity, and the incredible secret lives of plants.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed: After her mother dies, 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with almost no experience. Based on true events from her journal, Strayed writes a story that puts you right alongside her on those 2,500 miles.
  • The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner: Two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years studying the finches of the Galapagos Islands and proving just how strong Darwin’s theory of evolution is.
  • Birding without Borders by Noah Strycker: Traveling to 41 countries in 2015 with a backpack and binoculars, Noah Strycker became the first person to see more than half the world’s 10,000 species of birds in one year.
  • A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman: Diane Ackerman’s lusciously written grand tour of the realm of the senses includes conversations with an iceberg in Antarctica and a professional nose in New York, along with dissertations on kisses and tattoos, sadistic cuisine and the music played by the planet Earth.
  • Golden Wings & Hairy Toes: Encounters with New England’s Most Imperiled Wildlife by Todd McLeish: A series of well-written and informative essays about creatures including, North Atlantic Right Whale, Bicknell’s Thrush, Indiana Bat, Golden-winged Warbler, Canada Lynx, Roseate Tern, and the Ringed Boghaunter dragonfly. 

1 thought on “What We Like to Watch, Read, and Listen to About Nature

  1. Emily Simmer

    What about The Big Year? Never read the book but really loved the movie version with Jack Black, Owen Wilson, and Steve Martin.

    Reply

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