About Laura

LAURA ERICKSON, whose grandson calls her “Dee Dee Nana” (Dee Dee being his word for chickadees when he came up with the name), is recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s Book Award (2023) for 100 Plants to Feed the Birds, the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s Golden Passenger Pigeon Award (2022), the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s Thomas Sadler Roberts Memorial Award (2020), the American Birding Association’s Roger Tory Peterson Award (2014), the National Outdoor Book Award (1997) for Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids, the Frances F. Roberts Award from the Wilson and Cooper Ornithological Societies for a research paper she presented about warbler migration (1991), and multiple national, state, local, and organization awards for her conservation and education work and her writing.

She’s been a scientist, teacher, writer, licensed wildlife rehabilitator, blogger, public speaker, photographer, American Robin and Whooping Crane Expert for the popular Journey North educational website, and Science Editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Laura has written thirteen books about birds, and was a columnist and contributing editor for BirdWatching magazine until its recent demise.

Since 1986 she has been producing the long-running “For the Birds” radio program for many public and community radio stations; the program is podcast on iTunes. Transcripts, with photos and sometimes video, and often more fleshed out than the audio podcast segments, are available on the blogpost linked to each program.

Laura has reached the point of exasperation with requests for her to write blogposts and other content for commercial websites and publications. She is particularly fed up with people who seem to think providing a “free” link to her own work, “for the exposure,” is adequate compensation for her time, labor, expertise, and reputation, and notes that where she lives in northern Minnesota, people die from exposure.

Laura lives in Duluth, Minnesota.


Laura has been blathering about birds since she memorized the “Bird” entry in her family’s encyclopedia when she was a preschooler. She whistled in a cardinal when she was very little, and once saw a whole flock of warblers in the tree outside her bedroom window, though she thought they must be the angels of canaries that died saving miners’ lives.

Laura didn’t know how to identify birds until after her mother-in-law gave her a field guide and binoculars for Christmas in 1974. By the late ’70s she was subjecting her middle-school students in Madison, Wisconsin, and readers of her occasional columns in The Wisconsin State Journal to endless stories about birds. In 1981, she moved to Duluth, Minnesota, and in 1986 started producing “For the Birds,” a radio spot now airing on independent public and community radio stations from Oregon to New York. “For the Birds” is the longest-running radio program about birds in the United States, podcast at http://www.lauraerickson.com/radio/.

Laura served as a licensed wildlife rehabilitator focused primarily on songbirds and especially Common Nighthawks while she was a stay-at-home mother in the 80s and 90s; has counted raptors and songbirds at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory and other sites in Duluth, Minnesota; and studied nighthawk digestion as part of an ill-fated Ph.D project. Her professor, Dr. Gary Duke (co-founder of The Raptor Center) told her she was the “world authority on nighthawk digestion” even as he mentioned that no one else particularly wanted that distinction.

An avid birder, Laura saw 604 species (593 countable by ABA rules) in the Lower 48 during her “2013 Conservation Big Year,” and for a few years was listed in the top ten overall on the ABA “Listing Central” for Lower 48 Big Years. Probably many people have seen more than she has who haven’t entered their totals, so this is a meaningless distinction. She brought her ABA Continental List to 701 in 2023.


  • 2023 American Horticultural Society’s Book Award for 100 Plants to Feed the Birds.
  • 2022: Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s Golden Passenger Pigeon Award, “for outstanding achievement in the science of ornithology, for recognized published research, major book efforts or other such work.
  • 2021: KAXE radio’s Harry Hutchins Conservation Award.
  • 2020: Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s Thomas Sadler Roberts Award, “For outstanding contributions to Minnesota ornithology and birding.”
  • 2014: American Birding Association’s highest honor, the Roger Tory Peterson Award.
  • 2012: Hawk Migration Association of North America: Conservation Education Award.
  • 2012: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2012: Northeastern Minnesota Book Award Winner for Hawk Ridge: Minnesota’s Birds of Prey.
  • 2011: Northeastern Minnesota Book Award Honorable Mention for Twelve Owls.
  • 2007: Wisconsin Society for Ornithology Bronze Passenger Pigeon Award “For significant contributions to Wisconsin ornithology.”
  • 2000: Leyden High Schools Alumni Wall of Fame Award.
  • 1997: National Outdoor Book Award for Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids.
  • 1997: Artist’s grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council.
  • 1994: Northeastern Minnesota Book Award Honorable Mention for For the Birds: An Uncommon Guide.
  • 1991: Cooper Ornithological Society’s Frances F. Roberts Award.
  • 1988: The Raptor Center Conservation Award.
  • 1985: Minnesota State Arts Board Grant.

Speaking Engagements

Click here to learn about Laura’s speaking engagements.

Publicity Photos