For the Birds Radio Program
Book Review: Birds in a Cage
(Dec. 7, 2017)
Four British soldiers taken prisoner of war in World War II spent much of their time studying birds they could observe in their imprisonment. Derek Niemann wrote an important book about their ordeals and how their focus on birds helped them endure.
- Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See (Dec. 6, 2017)
Why do so many authors of books about war use birds as metaphors? Laura talks about an old novel about World War II, Slaughterhouse-Five, and one from 2015, All the Light We Cannot See, which she considers one of the finest books ever written.
- Passport to Adventure, Part II (Dec. 5, 2017)
Laura strongly recommends Kenn Kaufman’s Kaufman Field Guide to Nature in the Midwest.
- Passport to Adventure, Part I (Dec. 4, 2017)
A field guide can give you the names of the birds you see, but it’s ever so much more.
- Mokka the Alakef Snowy Owl (Dec. 1, 2017)
Snowy Owls don’t often seem attracted to coffee roasters, but when they are…Duration: 6′01″ Related blog post with transcript
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents (Nov. 29, 2017)
On Thanksgiving, Laura received two letters from listeners. Laura is most grateful.
- Cardinal Feeding Goldfish (Nov. 27, 2017)
National Geographic is linking to a YouTube video from 2010 showing a cardinal feeding a goldfish. Oddly enough, half a century ago, at least one National Geographic book displayed a black-and-white photo of the same odd behavior.
- A November Awakening (Nov. 21, 2017)
Sunrise in November is a fine time to be awake.Duration: 4′50″ Related blog post with transcript
- Swan Hunting in Minnesota? (Nov. 20, 2017)
Laura thinks the word nongame means nongame. Does it?Duration: 5′40″ Related blog post with transcript
- Minnesota's Breeding Bird Atlas: Some Species Accounts (Nov. 16, 2017)
Laura talks about Minnesota’s new Breeding Bird Atlas and the information it includes about some interesting species.Duration: 5′37″ Related blog post with transcript
- Minnesota's Breeding Bird Atlas (Nov. 15, 2017)
Minnesota has just completed a project begun in 2009 of atlasing all the breeding birds in the state.
- Frankie the Saw-whet Owl (Nov. 14, 2017)
An owl banded in St. Louis County just appeared in another St. Louis County.
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents (Nov. 6, 2017)
Laura reads some letters and comments from listeners.
- Bogus Video: Rebirth of an Eagle (Nov. 1, 2017)
A horrifyingly untrue online video claims that eagles can choose to undergo a bizarre metamorphosis.
- Population Growth: Excerpted from The Moth Snowstorm (Oct. 31, 2017)
Laura reads from Michael McCarthy’s wonderful book, The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy.
- Henry and Eden's Warbler (Oct. 25, 2017)
How two little kids saved the life of a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
- Book Review: The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy (Oct. 24, 2017)
Laura reviews a book that she considers as well researched, passionate, and important as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.Duration: 5′10″ Related blog post with transcript
- Insect Armageddon (Oct. 23, 2017)
Last week a new paper was published about the devastating declines in insects since the 1960s.
- Gus's Cat Video (Oct. 19, 2017)
A Brooklyn birder named Gus took a video of a cat killing and devouring a Golden-crowned Kinglet. At first, it felt like he was making a nature documentary, but he ended up feeling sad and bereft.
- Costumes (Oct. 12, 2017)
Laura apologizes for referring to ceremonial regalia with a fundamentally disrespectful word.
- Birding in the Postseason (Oct. 10, 2017)
How can birding be compatible with being a Cubs fan?
- Smith's Longspur (Oct. 9, 2017)
When a Smith’s Longspur turned up in Two Harbors and then in Duluth, Laura did her best to see it.
- Human Social Evolution (Oct. 6, 2017)
E.O. Wilson believes humans today have a Star Wars civilization with Stone Age emotions and Medieval institutions, and that we’re trapped by the duality of our primate ancestors, chimpanzees and bonobos. Laura thinks we could do better to pay more attention to chickadees.Duration: 5′15″ Related blog post with transcript
- Moments (Oct. 3, 2017)
What makes a moment different from a second or a minute?
- Hurricane Update (Oct. 2, 2017)
This year’s hurricanes have had a devastating effect on birds as well as humans.Duration: 4′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hawk Ridge Update (Sept. 28, 2017)
Laura spent an hour and a half at Hawk Ridge yesterday, seeing lots of wonderful birds.
- Woodson Museum's Birds in Art (Sept. 27, 2017)
Laura and Russ went to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum this weekend to see the annual Birds in Art exhibit. Laura gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up!
- Adopt a Barn Cat Follow Up (Sept. 19, 2017)
Animal Allies responded to some of Laura Erickson’s concerns about their Adopt a Barn Cat program.
- A Visit to the Field Museum of Natural History (Sept. 18, 2017)
This program originally aired when Laura’s children were young and her family went “birding” to see Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and other extinct species at the Field Museum of Natural History, back in 2000. In 2017, Laura is most distressed that this program displays her utter ignorance about an important issue. In reference to the ceremonial regalia worn by First Nations, she used the word “costumes,” a disrespectful term that trivializes important cultural garb in the same way that it would be disrespectful to refer to a Catholic priest’s vestments or a nurse’s or firefighter’s working clothing as a costume. This trivializes important garb as if the wearer is play acting or pretending to be something else, like a child wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume for Halloween. The overall content of the program has some value, but Laura is mortified that she was so insensitive.
- Adopt a Barn Cat? Just Say NO! (Sept. 15, 2017)
Duluth’s Animal Allies is trying to adopt out feral cats to roam free near warm barns and sheds. This is terrible for birds, other wildlife, and human beings.Duration: 5′23″ Related blog post with transcript
- Now Is the Time to Talk about Climate Change, and to Act. (Sept. 11, 2017)
Fires out West, flooding and toxins in Houston, and Hurricane Irma–this time of crisis is exactly when we need to talk about climate change.Duration: 6′59″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Zen Driver (Sept. 6, 2017)
“Drive at the slowest speed that is safe, courteous, and convenient.” is Number 60 on Laura’s Ways to Help Birds. This is easy to do when you’re the Zen Driver.
- Hurricane Harvey (Sept. 5, 2017)
How has Hurricane Harvey affected wildlife?
- Long Ago and Not Too Far Away (Aug. 29, 2017)
How did Laura end up with a dead owl and two drunk fishermen on a crying jag on her front porch in the middle of the night?Duration: 4′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- Frog or Bird? Is it really that hard? (STEREO) (Aug. 28, 2017)
Laura talks about her embarrassing, longstanding inability to distinguish birds from frogs. Laura recorded the cane toads in this program in stereo, so preserved that stereo for this program.Duration: 5′11″ Related blog post with transcript
- Archimedes, 1999-2017 (Aug. 23, 2017)
Laura remembers her little education bird Archimedes, an Eastern Screech-Owl who died last week.
- Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Under Siege (Aug. 8, 2017)
The current administration is planning to construct a three-mile long levee and border wall right through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
- Mantises: too much of a good thing? (July 31, 2017)
Sometimes it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason. At least for hummingbirds.Duration: 4′35″ Related blog post with transcript
- Cassia Crossbills: of pinecones and squirrels (July 28, 2017)
A brilliant ornithologist name Craig Benkman discovered some very important information about Red Crossbills, leading to a whole new species for science.Duration: 6′15″ Related blog post with transcript
- Divided We Fall (July 24, 2017)
When extremists on both sides of the political divide dig in their heels, it becomes impossible to work out reasonable compromises.
- Arm and Hammer bird trading cards, Part II (July 20, 2017)
Laura talks about some of the Arm and Hammer bird trading cards she was given by Don and Lynn Watson.
- Arm and Hammer bird trading cards, Part I (July 19, 2017)
Laura recently started looking into the old trading cards once found in boxes of Arm and Hammer baking soda.
- Extinctions (Birds in the News Redux) (July 17, 2017)
Laura reported back in 2004 that we were in the Sixth Mass Extinction. News from last week was reporting the same thing, but in the intervening years, we haven’t done a thing about it. The recording for the program, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, is of the now-extinct Bachman’s Warbler, recorded by G. Stuart Keith in South Carolina on 15 May 1959.
- The Captain of Our Soul (July 14, 2017)
Could a bird have written Invictus?Duration: 4′44″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Ancient Mariner Meets the Lord of the Flies (July 12, 2017)
When adolescent boys go on a murderous rampage against endangered seabirds, what’s the best way to deal with it?
- Taking a Giant Step Backwards on Lead (July 10, 2017)
Even as we’ve seen stunning examples of the dangers of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, our new Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, took a giant step backward by overturning a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle in our national parks and national wildlife refuges.Duration: 4′36″ Related blog post with transcript
- Peabody Street's Year of the House Wren (July 6, 2017)
Three different pairs of House Wrens are nesting on Laura’s corner this year.
- Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Requires Clean Air and Water (July 4, 2017)
The most essential requirements for life itself are breathable air and drinkable water.Duration: 6′37″ Related blog post with transcript
- Thoughts about Chickadees on the Fourth of July (July 3, 2017)
Chickadees and their communities embody the very best that we human Americans can aspire to.Duration: 6′06″ Related blog post with transcript
- Review: Song Sleuth, the bird song identification app (June 30, 2017)
A new app says it “turns your iPhone or iPad into an automatic bird song identifier.” How well does it live up to that claim? Laura says not so well, for now.
- Review: Merlin, the Bird Identification App (June 29, 2017)
Laura reviews, and strongly recommends, “Merlin,” a bird identification app created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
- Where have all the insects gone? (June 27, 2017)
Mosquitoes and ticks are proliferating, but many insects are disappearing.
- Where Are the Tree Swallows? (June 26, 2017)
Tree Swallows never showed up at a lake north of Duluth this year. Where might they be?
- Of Bald and Toupee-Wearing Birds (June 22, 2017)
In summer, some birds—mostly cardinals and Blue Jays—appear to grow bald, while pelicans don a toupee. What’s going on?
- Laura's Sound Recording Equipment (June 20, 2017)
What equipment does Laura use for recording birds? And do you need such an expensive setup?
- Baby ducks and geese in creches or nurseries (June 19, 2017)
Why do mother geese and ducks sometimes end up with huge numbers of babies?
- The Evocative Power of Sound (June 16, 2017)
Laura finds sounds—natural and human—evocative and magical. Many of her natural sound recordings are now available on her website, all indexed by species.
- Review: National Geographic field guide, Seventh Edition (June 15, 2017)
Laura got a sneak peek preview of the forthcoming Seventh Edition of the National Geographic field guide.
- Recap: Spring Warbler Walks (June 1, 2017)
On Tuesday, Laura finished up the last of her Duluth Audubon Spring Warbler Walks.
- The World I Choose to Live In (May 25, 2017)
Sometimes all we need to restore our spirits is one lovely morning.
- Conclusion of 101 Ways to Help Birds (May 23, 2017)
Laura is adding the content of her book 101 Ways to Help Birds to her website. She’s more than 2/3 done, and is finding that the issues she wrote about are still problems, and most of the information she presented is still very timely.
- Slow Down! (May 22, 2017)
Last week Laura came upon a heartbreaking reminder why we should drive at the slowest speed that is safe, courteous, and convenient. (Listen carefully starting at 3:48, right when Laura mentions owls, to hear Archimedes, her education Eastern Screech-Owl, chime in softly in the background. His cage is near where Laura records, and he apparently listens to her!)Duration: 4′53″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Floodgates Open! (May 19, 2017)
Bird migration is suddenly hopping!Duration: 3′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spring Update: Separating the MMMMs from the DDDDs. (May 18, 2017)
There are two kinds of spring mornings in Duluth. Non-birders prefer the MMMMs (Magnificent Minnesota Mornings), but sensible birders like the DDDDs (Dull, dank, drizzly, drippy Duluth Days). Why are birders happier in grim weather?
- Lewis's Woodpecker in Port Wing! (May 17, 2017)
When Laura heard about a Lewis’s Woodpecker in Port Wing, Wisconsin, she grabbed her dog and hopped in the car. It was worth it!Duration: 4′47″ Related blog post with transcript
- 101 Ways to Help Birds is online! (May 16, 2017)
Laura Erickson is making the content of her book, 101 Ways to Help Bird available on her webpage.
- Unusually pale Song Sparrow (May 15, 2017)
An odd bird visited Laura’s feeder last week, and she’s been puzzling over how to describe it correctly, because the scientists don’t agree on the right words.
- Warbler Walk Update (May 10, 2017)
Spring migration is taking its sweet time, so Laura and participants of her spring warbler walks are savoring it.
- Helping Lesser Prairie-Chickens and the People Who Help Them (May 9, 2017)
Laura reminisces about some Lesser Prairie-Chickens she saw in 2013 and 2014, and talks about a prairie-chicken advocate who needs help after a devastating wildfire destroyed his photo blind and the very lek Laura photographed in 2014.
- On the Shoulders of Giants (May 8, 2017)
Many scientists started looking seriously at the problem of bird-window collisions after Dr. Daniel Klem established that as many as a billion birds are killed at US windows every year. Dr. Klem’s painstaking research over almost four decades provides the underpinnings of all the research going on today.
- Vulnerable Waterfront Birds (May 3, 2017)
Birds that can survive only near water can be seriously jeopardized by selfish people.
- Worst-Case Scenarios (April 26, 2017)
Expecting the worst to happen can be very unrealistic, as a family of Great Blue Herons taught Laura
- Life Giving Experiences (April 24, 2017)
Time spent with birds can be truly “life giving,” as Douglas Wayne Gray told Laura.
- National Poetry Month: Birdsong (April 20, 2017)
For National Poetry Month, Laura highlights a new book, Birdsong: poems in celebration of birds, with a reading by P. A. Pashibin of her contribution to the book, “Waiting for Fox.”
- Listener Observations (April 17, 2017)
Laura reads from some recent letters from listeners about Evening Grosbeaks and American Robins.
- New Chickadee Nest on Peabody Street! (April 10, 2017)
Chickadees are starting to build a nest in Laura’s neighbor’s yard—she’ll keep us up to date on what’s happening.
- A Walk at Park Point (April 7, 2017)
Laura’s first warbler walk on Park Point didn’t have a single warbler, and only 15 bird species total, but she still had a great time.
- Unexpected Trip to Chicago (April 6, 2017)
Laura took a fun, unexpected trip to Chicago last weekend, and was rewarded with an unexpected and really cool bird .
- First Warbler Walk of the year (April 5, 2017)
Every Tuesday and Thursday in April and May, Laura leads warbler walks for Duluth Audubon Society. What did they see the first day out?
- Where Are the Birds? Part 2 (March 28, 2017)
Laura talks about how we measure bird declines and why it’s so difficult to pinpoint why birds disappear at a particular feeding station. She also asks listeners in the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, area to let her know how their backyard feeding went this year.
- Where Are the Birds? Part I (March 27, 2017)
A WXPR listener has had very few birds at his feeder this year, and asks Laura if he should continue bird feeding.
- Chandler Robbins (March 24, 2017)
Of all the birding and ornithology figures Laura has ever known, her greatest hero, as an ornithologist, a conservationist, and a human being, is Chandler Robbins. He died on March 20.
Laura’s longer remembrance of him is on her blog.
- A Question of Balance (March 20, 2017)
Laura just discovered, after all these years, that the sound balance of her programs is off–she makes the birds louder than they should be relative to her voice. She is trying to make this better.
- 15,354 days and counting (March 15, 2017)
As of today, Laura has been a birder for 15,354 days. How many chickadees has she seen in that time?
- Thomas Spence's beautiful, pale Pine Siskin (March 10, 2017)
Last week, Laura heard from a WTIP listener who has been seeing an extremely pale Pine Siskin.Duration: 4′23″ Related blog post with transcript
- Rescinding the Ban on Lead Ammo (March 6, 2017)
The long-awaited ban on using toxic ammo or fishing tackle on any National Wildlife Refuge, just enacted last year, was rescinded last week.
- After Surgery (March 3, 2017)
Laura came out of surgery just fine, thinking about chickadees and bird breast muscles.Duration: 4′32″ Related blog post with transcript
- 42: The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (March 2, 2017)
Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Laura’s first outing as a birdwatcher.
- Moseying through the Bog (Feb. 27, 2017)
On Saturday, Laura, her friend Lisa, and her little birding dog Pip took a leisurely trip through the Sax-Zim Bog.Duration: 4′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- High Plains Snow Goose Festival (Feb. 24, 2017)
Laura spent a February weekend in Lamar, Colorado, at the High Plains Snow Goose Festival.
- Cats (Feb. 17, 2017)
What can we do about outdoor cats killing birds?
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Two Harbors (Feb. 15, 2017)
What’s a Eurasian Tree Sparrow doing hanging around the Do North Pizzeria in Two Harbors, Minnesota?Duration: 4′37″ Related blog post with transcript
- Dealing with Uncertainties (Feb. 10, 2017)
Chickadees are helping Laura deal with some very disconcerting news: a breast cancer diagnosis.Duration: 5′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- Ruffed Grouse (Feb. 9, 2017)
Interesting winter adaptations make a Ruffed Grouse up a tree an arresting sight.Duration: 5′02″ Related blog post with transcript
- February Romance (Feb. 8, 2017)
Laura talks about three species that mate for life, and their February courtship rituals.
- Superb Owl Sunday (Feb. 7, 2017)
On the first Sunday of February, when many Americans focus on guacamole and flying pigskins, Laura celebrates Superb Owl Sunday.Duration: 4′33″ Related blog post with transcript
- Twice as Many Species (Feb. 3, 2017)
Some scientists believe that there are about 18,000 bird species in the world–not just 10,000 as currently understood.
- More about that Pink-footed Goose (Jan. 30, 2017)
Laura responds to a couple of questions about the Pink-footed Goose she talked about last week.Duration: 4′25″ Related blog post with transcript
- Pink-capped Marchers (Jan. 24, 2017)
Laura went from seeing a Pink-footed Goose on Friday to marching with a host of pink-capped members of another species on Saturday.
- How I spent January 20, 2017 (Jan. 23, 2017)
Laura was in New York City on a wild goose chase on Friday.Duration: 5′06″ Related blog post with transcript
- Wealth in the New Gilded Age (Jan. 18, 2017)
What makes us truly rich? Laura finds hope in birds and the Chicago Cubs, remembering that last time they won a World Series, Teddy Roosevelt was putting an end to another Gilded Age.
- Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See (Dec. 6, 2017)