For the Birds Radio Program
Make the Belted Kingfisher the official mascot of the University of Illinois
(Nov. 30, 2022)
Laura attended the University of Illinois from 1969-1971, when their mascot was the offensive and stereotypical “Chief Illiniwek.” Due to pressure from students, alumni, staff, and the community, the U. of I. got rid of that mascot in 2008, but haven’t replaced it with anything. A wonderful student, and now alumnus, named Spencer Halsey spearheaded a campaign to name a real-life blue-and-orange local bird, the Belted Kingfisher, the new official mascot. This is a splendid idea that deserves support.Duration: 5′33″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Chickadee deserves a place in Guinness World Records (Nov. 29, 2022)
It takes verifiable documentation for anyone, bird or human, to make the grade in Guinness World Records. But based on the standard for the entry “lowest temperature endured by a bird,” the Black-capped Chickadee is definitely a contender.
- Record-breakers, from turkeys to godwits (Nov. 24, 2022)
Laura’s been spending a lot of time perusing the Guinness Book of World Records this week.Duration: 5′41″ Related blog post with transcript
- Godwits! (Nov. 22, 2022)
Laura talks about the four godwit species in the world.Duration: 4′54″ Related blog post with transcript
- In My Prime (Nov. 15, 2022)
Laura’s 71st birthday, as usual, has her thinking about birds.
- Phainopepla: A Bird as Unique as Its Name. (Nov. 9, 2022)
A bird with a cool name is unique in other ways, too.Duration: 5′32″ Related blog post with transcript
- Phainopepla: Which way did she go? (Nov. 8, 2022)
Minnesota’s first record of a Phainopepla stuck around the McQuade boat landing from October 29 through November 1. Where is she now? No one will ever know.
- The New Kid on the Block (Nov. 4, 2022)
A new Pileated Woodpecker spent some time in Laura’s yard making her wonder how Pileateds figure out bird feeders.
- What's the Name of That Song? (Nov. 2, 2022)
New apps can identify songs for us, whether those songs were produced by a person or a bird. (The program opens with a Sesame Street recording of “What’s the Name of That Song?” and uses the “Li’l Darlin’” tract from the album The Atomic Mr. Basie.Duration: 6′00″ Related blog post with transcript
- When Rarity Begets Rarity (Oct. 31, 2022)
When birders gather to see one rare bird, they often spot another one.
- Birds in Art, Part 3: When Birds and Humans Intersect (Oct. 25, 2022)
Laura’s favorite thing about the Woodson Art Museum’s annual “Birds in Art” exhibit is how each artist has a unique spin on the theme.
- Birds in Art, Part 2: The 2022 Exhibit at the Woodson Art Museum (Oct. 24, 2022)
Laura talks about her visit last month to the Leigh Yawkkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau to see the 2022 Birds in Art exhibit.
- Birds in Art, Part I: A little history (Oct. 21, 2022)
Laura’s annual sojourn to the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau to see this year’s Birds in Art exhibit got her thinking about the history of bird art.Duration: 5′18″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Value of Certified Coffee (Oct. 18, 2022)
Laura’s quiet morning routine would be far less satisfying if the coffee she drank had robbed tropical birds of habitat or hurt the people growing and harvesting it.Duration: 4′20″ Related blog post with transcript
- Joy in the Morning (Oct. 17, 2022)
Starting the day with a cup of coffee while watching chickadees, Blue Jays, and a Pileated Woodpecker just inches away–what could be better? (Any time I mention a photo or video, it appears on that program’s blog post. Today’s shows video of the Pileated bobbing her head.)
- When Numbers Get Serious (Oct. 14, 2022)
Blue Jays broke a record this month–over 60,000 of them migrated over Hawk Ridge in Duluth. What does this mean? And what the heck does it have to do with baseball?
- Saw-whet Owl! (Oct. 7, 2022)
This week, a little saw-whet owl turned up behind Laura’s backyard.
- October! (Oct. 3, 2022)
Saturday morning was a splendid start to the month, at least on Laura’s corner of Peabody Street.
- Hit By Pitch (Sept. 27, 2022)
Baseball players sometimes get hit by pitches–nowadays no one more than Laura’s favorite player of all, Anthony Rizzo. But those players have a much greater survival rate than the hapless dove who got beaned by a baseball. (The accompanying blog post has a LOT more information than I could fit into the podcast.)Duration: 7′53″ Related blog post with transcript
- Dee Dee Nana (Sept. 23, 2022)
Laura’s grandson Walter has a brand new name for her.Duration: 4′32″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hawk Ridge: Fifty Years and Counting! (Sept. 22, 2022)
This is the fiftieth anniversary of Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve in Duluth. People will be celebrating this weekend.
- Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Part 2 (Sept. 21, 2022)
Stony Point was filled with happy birders on Saturday morning.
- Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Part 1 (Sept. 20, 2022)
It’s hard to get anything accomplished when an extremely rare Fork-tailed Flycatcher appears.Duration: 3′47″ Related blog post with transcript
- September Hummingbirds (Sept. 19, 2022)
Laura thinks the old rule about bringing hummingbird feeders in by Labor Day is ridiculous. She’ll be leaving hers out until at least the end of November. She was still seeing a hummingbird on September 18.Duration: 5′29″ Related blog post with transcript
- Moosey and Puffy (Sept. 6, 2022)
Two of the greatest highlights of Laura’s Alaska trip were Horned and Tufted Puffins. Puffins are popular enough that Alaska gift shops sold lots of them–but not one that Laura could find was one of these two native Alaskan species–they were all Atlantic Puffins!Duration: 6′01″ Related blog post with transcript
- Anything Can Happen (Sept. 2, 2022)
The time around Labor Day Weekend is what Laura thinks of as the “Anything Can Happen” time of year.
(The recording at start and finish is of a Semipalmated Plover, from the Macaulay Library of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Cedar Waxwing recording was made my Lang Elliott.)
- If you build it, will they come? (Aug. 29, 2022)
How do we encourage declining birds to start using newly-restored habitat? Daniel Wanschura’s “Points North” podcast for Interlochen Public Radio about Dustin Brewer’s Michigan rail study can be read or heard at the IPR website here.Duration: 7′00″ Related blog post with transcript
- Puffins, Part 3: How to see them (Aug. 19, 2022)
Where to go to see the three species of puffins.Duration: 5′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- Puffins, Part 2 (Aug. 18, 2022)
The features that make puffins so distinctive are also what allow them to live their oceanic lives.
- Puffins! A little history (Aug. 17, 2022)
How did puffins get their scientific and vernacular names?
- August's Tiny Treasures (Aug. 15, 2022)
Laura is entranced by two tiny beings this month: hummingbirds and her grandson Walter.Duration: 5′07″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 11B: The End (Aug. 9, 2022)
Was falling down hard while photographing a bird worth it?Duration: 4′35″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 11A: Winding Down (Aug. 8, 2022)
After the big boat trip to Kenai Fjords National Park, there was still a bit of birding to do.Duration: 4′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 10B: Kenai Fjords National Park (Aug. 5, 2022)
The birds Laura saw on her Alaska boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Park were even more thrilling than the humpback whales.Duration: 4′11″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 10: Dessert!! The sweetest day of the trip, starting with humpback whales (Aug. 4, 2022)
The boat trip into Kenai Fjords National Park was the most beautiful and exciting part of Laura’s Alaska adventure. The first part of the morning wasn’t even spent with birds, but rather, a splendid mammal.
- Alaska, Part 9: Birding Our Way to Seward (Aug. 1, 2022)
The Kenai Peninsula was a great place for memorable birding for Laura.Duration: 4′07″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 8: Denali (July 27, 2022)
Laura managed to see the peak of Denali on two days, first from an airplane and then close to the ground. Denali’s wildlife is just as spectacular as the mountain itself.
- Alaska, Part 7: Birding in Anchorage (July 19, 2022)
Laura spent 6 of her 14 nights in Alaska in Anchorage. It’s a huge city by Alaska standards, but the birding was excellent.
- Acorn Woodpecker in Minnesota! (July 12, 2022)
An amazing bird, at least 1,200 miles from its normal range, turned up at Russell Stewart’s house in Carlton County last week.
- Alaska, Part 6: Birding the Nome-Taylor or Kougarok Road (July 11, 2022)
The last day of Laura’s trip to Nome was spent searching for a most wanted bird, the Bristle-thighed Curlew.
- Alaska, Part 5: A Diversion--the Bristle-thighed Curlew (July 8, 2022)
Laura talks about one of her most wanted birds in Alaka, a most unique species.Duration: 6′08″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 4: Birding the Nome-Council Road (July 7, 2022)
Most of the lifers Laura saw in Nome were along the Nome-Council Road.
- Alaska, Part 3: Birding the Nome-Teller Road (July 6, 2022)
Laura birded along the Nome-Teller Road on the afternoon of June 12 and all day on June 13.Duration: 5′31″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska, Part 2: Nome! (July 5, 2022)
Laura gives an overview of the four days she spent in Nome. The bird recording used in the program, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is of the White Wagtail.
- Independence Day 2022 (July 4, 2022)
Some of the fundamental freedoms Americans celebrate today are in jeopardy.
- Alaska, Part 1: The tour begins in Anchorage (June 28, 2022)
Laura and Russ spent some time birding on their own in Anchorage before joining their group for a Nome adventure.
- Preparing for a Trip! (June 13, 2022)
When you hear this, Laura should be in Nome, Alaska.
- Bird Recordings and the Merlin App (June 10, 2022)
Laura’s found a great new way to identify bird songs too high for her to hear.
- Three Book Reviews (June 7, 2022)
Laura reviews the all new online version of Wisconsin’s Favorite Bird Haunts, National Geographic’s Complete Birds of North America, and Sharon Stiteler’s North American Bird Watching for Beginners.Duration: 5′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- Sweetness in Hard Times (June 6, 2022)
Desperate times call for desperate measures, some of them sweeter than others.Duration: 5′36″ Related blog post with transcript
- Monty and Rose (2017–2022) (June 3, 2022)
Chicago’s most famous avian residents, the Piping Plovers that nested in the dunes at Montrose Beach, are gone.Duration: 6′22″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tennessee Warblers (May 30, 2022)
Until just this week, Laura’s been taking a dainty little warbler for granted.
- Walter's Beautiful Neighborhood (May 27, 2022)
Laura’s little grandson is growing up in a world of birds and flowers and smiling people.Duration: 5′58″ Related blog post with transcript
- My Most Colorful Spring and an Adorable Little Despot (May 26, 2022)
This spring may be unusually cold, but that’s led to an exceptionally colorful few weeks on Peabody Street.(The recording at the start and end of this program is a Cape May Warbler, whose song is so high frequency that it’s out of the hearing range of a lot of people.)Duration: 5′01″ Related blog post with transcript
- Serendipity and the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect, Part 3 (May 25, 2022)
Last week, Laura found yet another rare bird in her yard less than 24 hours after she saw the first one.Duration: 3′51″ Related blog post with transcript
- Serendipity and the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect, Part 2 (May 24, 2022)
Tuesday just got better and better.
- Serendipity and the Patagonia Picnic Table Effect, Part I (May 23, 2022)
Tuesday, May 17, is a day Laura will long remember.
- Celebrating Individuals (May 17, 2022)
There’s something uniquely special about individual wild birds that we recognize personally. Sometimes the bonds we forge with these can last a long time.Duration: 5′46″ Related blog post with transcript
- St. Louis County Eurasian Tree Sparrow (May 16, 2022)
This week Laura saw a bird that belongs in an entirely different St. Louis County.
- Homemade Books and Picture Cards for Small Children (May 13, 2022)
Laura is making picture cards to teach her little grandson about birds and other animals.
- Catching the Start of the Dawn Chorus (May 11, 2022)
How early do you have to get up to hear the very beginning of the dawn chorus? Earlier than you might think.
- Recognizing Sparrows, Part 2: Unstreaked Sparrows (May 9, 2022)
Laura, back from her close encounter with Covid, finishes her sparrow identification series.
- Recognizing Sparrows, Part 1: Juncos and Sparrows with Streaked Breasts (April 29, 2022)
The end of April and beginning of May are when sparrows descend upon the Northland in big numbers. Identifying these little brown jobs isn’t as daunting as it might seem.Duration: 4′55″ Related blog post with transcript
- Joy in the Backyard (April 27, 2022)
When Laura photographed a male and female Pileated Woodpecker feeding together in her suet feeder, she realized just how happy she is.
- Bird Flu and Other Feeder Issues (April 22, 2022)
Laura brings us up to date on the conflicting recommendations from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Cornell Cooperative Extension with regard to bird flu and keeping bird feeders going. She also talks about some birds dying at feeders not from diseases but from the bird feeder itself.
- Spring Symphony (April 19, 2022)
What spring birdsong is Laura happiest to hear?Duration: 4′29″ Related blog post with transcript
- Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (April 18, 2022)
Laura’s researched as much as she can about this year’s outbreak of a dangerous variant of bird flu. She wrote a lot about it on her blog at blog.lauraerickson.com
- Conversation with Scott Weidensaul about A Warbler's Journey, Part 2 (April 15, 2022)
Laura asked Scott Weidensaul about the people he features in his new children’s picture book, A Warbler’s Journey, and also more about Yellow Warblers and their treacherous migration.Duration: 5′52″ Related blog post with transcript
- Conversation with Scott Weidensaul about A Warbler's Journey, Part I (April 14, 2022)
Laura had a long conversation with Scott Weidensaul earlier this month. Here is Part 1 of their conversation about Scott’s new book, A Warbler’s Journey.
- Book Review: A Warbler's Journey by Scott Weidensaul, illustrated by Nancy Lane (April 13, 2022)
One of Laura’s favorite writers, Scott Weidensaul, has written a children’s picture book that Laura loves.
- Children's Bird Book Week, Part 2 (April 12, 2022)
Laura talks about some more old and more recent children’s picture books about birds—both favorites and some not.
Note: Laura pronounces the name of the main character in The Trumpet of the Swan, Louis, as loo’ iss. E.B. White pronounced it loo’ ey, but he said he named the character for Louis Armstrong. Although many people called Armstrong “Louie,” he was very clear that he wanted people to pronounce his name “Louis.” He even emphasized that whenever he sang “Hello, Dolly!” E.B. White was a wonderful writer whom Laura admires greatly, but on this she’s deferring to Satchmo.Duration: 5′23″ Related blog post with transcript
- Children's Bird Book Week (April 11, 2022)
This week I’ll be talking about some old and some new picture books about birds, for small children, starting with some old classics.Duration: 4′53″ Related blog post with transcript
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Patricia on Australian Magpies (April 5, 2022)
My friend Patricia sent me some fun information about the magpies she grew up with in Australia.
- Sounds of Early Spring (April 4, 2022)
Lots of birds are making their presence known now. Except the chickadees heard near the end, all the sounds heard in this program were recorded out Laura’s home office window.
- Bluolingo: The first Blue Jay translation app (April 1, 2022)
Laura interviews Jim Baker from Baker’s Blue Jay Barn about his newest product, Bluolingo, which translates both of the two different sounds coming from a Blue Jay’s voice box.Duration: 7′34″ Related blog post with transcript
- Australian Magpies: Outsmarting Researchers (March 31, 2022)
One of the smartest birds on the planet is making it very difficult for scientists to research its movements.
- Transition from Winter to Spring (March 29, 2022)
This in-between period where winter slowly melts into spring is Laura’s favorite time of year. At least, right now.
- Fifty Years! (March 24, 2022)
Laura just marked her 50th wedding anniversary,. Sticking it out this long involves luck more than anything..
- Alaska Trip Preparation, Part III: Anticipation! (March 16, 2022)
The best thing about preparing for any trip is anticipating all the possibilities.
- Alaska Trip Preparation, Part II: Getting into Shape for a Grueling Hike (March 15, 2022)
When they head to Nome, Alaska, this June, Russ and Laura will be taking a grueling hike to see the Bristle-thighed Curlew. How is Laura preparing for that?Duration: 4′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Alaska Trip Preparation, Part I: Reducing and Mitigating My Carbon Footprint (March 14, 2022)
In preparing for a trip to Alaska in June, Laura’s been doing some research to make sure she’s mitigating the energy involved in her travel. (The bird song in the background is the Varied Thrush, a song Laura should hear in Alaska.)
- Hand-Feeding, Part II (March 11, 2022)
Mark Roser created a system called “Interactive Bird Feeding” that Laura wholeheartedly endorses. But as winter comes to an end, she adds one concern that we need to be aware of.
- Hand-Feeding, Part I (March 9, 2022)
Hand-feeding birds, and just having them close enough to make eye contact, sparks love for them, which comes with responsibility.
- Chickadee Day 2022: The Best of Times (March 8, 2022)
Chickadee Day 2022 started out poorly for Laura, but things suddenly improved.
- Chickadee Day 2022: The Worst of Times (March 7, 2022)
Laura always celebrates March 2, the anniversary of seeing her first chickadee. This year was a little rockier than usual.
- Little Walter the Chickadee (Feb. 23, 2022)
All chickadees may be cute, but one in particular reminds Laura of her baby grandson.
- Redpolls, Part 2 (Feb. 22, 2022)
Backyard redpolls are wonderful to see this winter in the Northland. Nicole Ottjes sent Laura an amazing video of redpolls crowding into her hand for seeds.
- Redpolls, Part 1 (Feb. 21, 2022)
Laura talks about the little birds visiting northland feeders in big numbers this winter.
- Winter Bird Song, Part II (Feb. 17, 2022)
Studies of northern European birds singing on their sub-Saharan wintering grounds suggest that the reason for singing so far from mate and territory is simple—they’re practicing.
- Winter Bird Song, Part I (Feb. 16, 2022)
Even on frigid mornings, chickadees and cardinals are singing away right now. They won’t make spring come any faster, but are still warming our hearts.
- Auggie's Bogwalk (Feb. 8, 2022)
A beautiful little boardwalk in the Sax-Zim Bog was created as a memorial to Augustus James Feth, with little owl carvings, gifts for anyone who walks the trail to the end, carved by Auggie’s great grandfather.Duration: 3′38″ Related blog post with transcript
- It's All Good (Feb. 7, 2022)
Even when you don’t see the one bird you set as your goal, a day spent birding is all good.
- February Bluebird!! (Feb. 4, 2022)
On Groundhog Day, Laura got a brief but satisfying look at an Eastern Bluebird visiting a Duluth feeder.
- February! (Feb. 2, 2022)
Dawn is noticeably earlier each day now, as Laura is noticing while feeder watching in the morning twilight.Duration: 5′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- Feeding Birds, Part V: Water (Jan. 28, 2022)
Water is the stuff of life, even in winter.
- Feeding Birds, Part IV: Mealworms (Jan. 27, 2022)
This time Laura looks at the value of feeding mealworms to birds and things to consider in deciding whether to buy live or dried mealworms, or both, as Laura does.
- Feeding Birds, Part III: Peanuts and Peanut Butter (Jan. 26, 2022)
Laura talks about the benefits of feeding birds peanuts and peanut butter, and also important considerations to make this safe for the birds.Duration: 5′16″ Related blog post with transcript
- Bird Feeding, Part II: Suet (Jan. 25, 2022)
Besides bird seed, the thing most people give birds at feeding stations is suet.
- Bird Feeding, Part I: Bird Seed (Jan. 24, 2022)
All week Laura will be talking about the best choices for what we offer at our bird feeding stations.
- White-breasted Nuthatch (Jan. 21, 2022)
Listeners wrote in asking about White-breasted Nuthatches.Duration: 5′03″ Related blog post with transcript
- Boreal Chickadee (Jan. 20, 2022)
The Black-capped Chickadee may be Laura’s favorite bird, but the Boreal Chickadee isn’t too far behind.
- Red-bellied Woodpecker (Jan. 18, 2022)
Every day, a female Red-bellied Woodpecker is visiting Peabody Street. Seeing one in Duluth used to be a rare event. Laura is just as thrilled now that it’s much more commonplace.
- Ivory Gull in Duluth: 2022 (Jan. 17, 2022)
An Ivory Gull turned up in Duluth on January 3. Laura tried, but didn’t succeed, in finding it.
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Listener Questions (Jan. 12, 2022)
Laura answers questions about Canada Jays (also called Gray Jays) and Pine Grosbeaks, and about how birds get water in winter.
- Pine Grosbeak (Jan. 10, 2022)
2022 appears to be a good year for seeing Pine Grosbeaks, reminding Laura of why she loves this beautiful bird.
- The Chickadee deserves a place in Guinness World Records (Nov. 29, 2022)