For the Birds Radio Program
(Oct. 19, 2020)
Laura speculates on how adult birds maintain pretty much the same appearance during the time they have dependent young.
- Global Bird Weekend (Oct. 16, 2020)
Laura is part of the BirdWatching magazine team that will be participating in Global Bird Weekend tomorrow, planning to have a lot of fun in a safe, socially-distanced way, and hoping that her participation will help BirdLife International’s campaign to end the illegal bird trade.
- Dependent Nestlings (Oct. 14, 2020)
Laura’s new grandbaby and the neighborhood crows and jays are making her think about dependent young of all species.
- Woodson Art Museum "Birds in Art" 2020 (Oct. 12, 2020)
Laura got this year’s catalogue for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s annual Birds in Art exhibit.
- Awe Walks, Part 2 (Oct. 6, 2020)
For Laura, bird watching has been very much like spending her life in one wonderful awe walk.Duration: 5′04″ Related blog post with transcript
- Awe Walks, Part I (Oct. 5, 2020)
The New York Times did a story last week about the value of “awe walks”–taking walks while trying to look at things with fresh, childlike eyes–and how after eight weeks, the people doing this were happier, less upset, and more socially connected than people taking as many walks but without being told to focus on new things with those childlike eyes.
- Jo Simon's Question about Geese (Oct. 1, 2020)
WXPR listener Jo Simon asked Laura a simple and obvious question: What are geese honking about as they fly overhead? No one knows for sure, but Laura has a few ideas.
- Ovenbird songs (Sept. 30, 2020)
Laura shares her affection for one bird song with Robert Frost.
- For the Mammals (Sept. 29, 2020)
Laura’s had an interesting array of mammals in her yard in recent weeks and months.
- Backyard Surveillance (Sept. 23, 2020)
Laura is using a combination of staking out birds out the window and taking photos via three trail cams to keep track of what’s going on.Duration: 5′00″ Related blog post with transcript
- Smith's Longspur! (Sept. 21, 2020)
A difficult-to-find bird may be nondescript, but it has an exceptionally weird mating system.
- Backyard Fun (Sept. 18, 2020)
Fall migration is getting exciting in Laura’s yard.
- Massive bird die-off in New Mexico (Sept. 17, 2020)
Huge numbers of birds have been found dead and dying in New Mexico. We don’t know exactly why.
- Yard List (Sept. 14, 2020)
After living on Peabody Street for 39 years, Laura has a hard time adding new birds to her yard list, but Friday she added a surprising new one! This one goes out with music.Duration: 4′56″ Related blog post with transcript
- Grousing about viruses (Sept. 11, 2020)
James Stone got Laura thinking about the West Nile virus epidemic that hit the US twenty years ago. That virus didn’t hurt anywhere near as many people as we first feared, but it continues to kill Ruffed Grouse and other wildlife.
- Fall Migration Update (Sept. 10, 2020)
What birds are migrating through right now? James Stone of Northome brought Laura up to date with his birds, and she’s had some interesting experiences in her own yard, too.
- Fun with Blue Jays (Sept. 9, 2020)
Laura can’t get enough of her backyard Blue Jays.
- What's in a Name? Part 2 (Sept. 7, 2020)
In June, the American Ornithological Society changed the name of McCown’s Longspur to the Thick-billed Longspur, raising the dander of some people.Duration: 5′52″ Related blog post with transcript
- What's in a Name? Part I (Sept. 4, 2020)
Laura talks about a bird whose name was changed to the Long-tailed Duck in 2000.Duration: 4′04″ Related blog post with transcript
- Canada Goose Migration (Sept. 2, 2020)
Canada Geese learn their migration route from their parents, and then find their lifelong mate on their wintering grounds. Come spring, they want to return to where they hatched out. KUMD’s Lisa Johnson asked Laura which young goose in a pair gets to return where it hatched, and which is willing to go along.
- Unsung Women (Aug. 31, 2020)
Recently, women have been making important discoveries about the singing abilities of female birds, overturning centuries of conventional wisdom about how many female birds sing. Is this coincidence, or powerful evidence that inclusiveness in scientific endeavors casts new eyes on old questions?Duration: 7′20″ Related blog post with transcript
- Bald Blue Jays Redux (Aug. 27, 2020)
One of the bald Blue Jays laura photographed on August 13 has most of its facial feathers in now.
- May in August (Aug. 26, 2020)
Laura’s seeing as many different species in her yard right now as she saw at the peak of migration in May. CORRECTION: Laura said to contact her by September 29 to receive an invitation to the September 1 Zoom presentation–this should be AUGUST 29.
- Grandmotherhood (Aug. 25, 2020)
This month, Laura turned into a grandmother! Birds seldom know their grandmothers.Duration: 5′48″ Related blog post with transcript
- Bald Blue Jays (Aug. 24, 2020)
Laura has been talking about bald Blue Jays for years, and now, finally, she has photos.Duration: 4′33″ Related blog post with transcript
- Migration Begins Softly (Aug. 13, 2020)
Laura talks about the avian abundance out there right this moment.
- Blue Jays! (Aug. 10, 2020)
Laura’s getting wonderful photos of her Blue Jays, including some kinds of photos, like of bald Blue Jays, that she’s never been able to take before. You can see the photos she refers to on her blog at www.lauraerickson.com.
- A Conversation with Don Kroodsma, Part 5: European Starling (Aug. 7, 2020)
A couple of weeks ago, when Laura interviewed Don Kroodsma, author of Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist, they talked about a bird people love to hate, the European Starling.
- House Wren day (Aug. 5, 2020)
Laura finally got to enjoy the thrill of seeing baby House Wrens the day they fledge from the nest. And she learned about the dark side of seeing baby House Wrens the day they fledge from the nest.Duration: 4′55″ Related blog post with transcript
- August (Aug. 3, 2020)
Laura’s backyard birds are still keeping her busy.
- Laura's Best Bird EVER! Baby Flickers (July 31, 2020)
One summer, Laura and her sons raised two baby flickers.Duration: 6′27″ Related blog post with transcript
- Flickers (July 29, 2020)
Right now flickers are at their quietest and most secretive, but soon everyone will be noticing them again, along dirt roads, gravel driveways, and expansive lawns.Duration: 4′12″ Related blog post with transcript
- Birds of Late Summer (July 27, 2020)
Why are there more birds today than there will be for the rest of 2020? Laura talks about what’s going on with our songbirds right now, and reminds us of the Zoom program she’ll be doing this Saturday night (August 1).
- A Conversation with Don Kroodsma, Part 4: Connecticut Warbler (July 24, 2020)
Don Kroodsma tells Laura about an important discovery he made about a bird that nests right in the Sax-Zim Bog.
- A Conversation with Don Kroodsma, Part 3: Sandhill Crane (July 23, 2020)
Don Kroodsma talks about a great Sandhill Crane experience.Duration: 5′25″ Related blog post with transcript
- A Conversation with Don Kroodsma, Part 2: White-throated Sparrow (July 22, 2020)
Don Kroodsma talks about White-throated Sparrows with Laura.Duration: 6′18″ Related blog post with transcript
- A Conversation with Don Kroodsma, Part 1: A Sense of Wonder (July 21, 2020)
Laura talks with Don Kroodsma about why he wrote Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist and why he so enjoys exploring questions we don’t have answers for, yet.Duration: 3′57″ Related blog post with transcript
- Book Review: Birdsong for the Curious Naturalist (July 20, 2020)
Laura absolutely loves a new book by birdsong authority Donald Kroodsma. Today she reviews the book, and for the rest of the week will be excerpting from a conversation she had with Don about it.
- That Peppery Taste! (July 17, 2020)
Some birds have a mutualistic relationship with hot peppers, but scientists don’t quite understand how birds taste them.
- My Jalapeño Pepper Bird (July 16, 2020)
Laura had a memorable experience with a jalapeño pepper and a Black-throated Gray Warbler.Duration: 2′56″ Related blog post with transcript
- A New Poem by J. Drew Lanham: Life in Hand (July 15, 2020)
Writer, poet, and wildlife biologist J. Drew Lanham shares a brand new poem.
- Ravens: Smarter Than We Thought! (July 13, 2020)
Ravens turn out to be even smarter than people thought!
- Hearts! (July 10, 2020)
Laura looks back at a For the Birds transcript from 1988, with some updates.
- More about Brown Thrashers (July 8, 2020)
More about the Brown Thrasher.
- Laura's Best Bird EVER! A Brown Thrasher and Oneupmanship over a Snarky Boss (July 7, 2020)
Laura’s best bird EVER was a Brown Thrasher that she never even saw!
- White-throated Sparrows: Singing a New Tune (July 6, 2020)
A new song is spreading through the land.Duration: 4′35″ Related blog post with transcript
- What to Make of a Diminished Thing (July 3, 2020)
Summer may be barely here, but bird song is starting to ebb.
- Blast from the Past: Answering a Stupid Question--Nighthawk Caeca (July 1, 2020)
Laura found a transcript from 1993 that explains how she came to be a Ph.D. student in the first place.Duration: 5′33″ Related blog post with transcript
- Blast from the Past: Eagle Poop! (June 29, 2020)
What goes in must come out. (Recast from April 14, 1997)Duration: 4′21″ Related blog post with transcript
- For Podcast Listeners: Shameless Self Promotion and an Invitation (June 27, 2020)
Laura is requesting donations to support For the Birds, and offering, on July 1 at 7 pm CDT, a free presentation about nesting birds. Contributors to her Patreon account will automatically be invited, but she’ll send invitations to anyone else who asks. See the sidebar on Laura’s blog for more details.Duration: 3′34″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Chipmunk Stalker (June 26, 2020)
KAXE/KBXE listener Lynn Hanske shared a disconcerting video showing a Great Blue Heron who has become a specialist on stalking and capturing chipmunks.
- Stress Marks (June 24, 2020)
People may not have feathers, but our plumage has a bit in common with theirs.Duration: 5′23″ Related blog post with transcript
- Blast from the Past: Cestodes! (June 23, 2020)
In 1992, Laura made a disturbing discovery about one of the nighthawks she was caring for—a discovery that will live in infamy.
- Summertime, and the Livin's Not Easy (June 22, 2020)
Days are as long as they’ll be all year right now, and birds are hard at work from sunrise to sunset, or even longer than that!Duration: 4′57″ Related blog post with transcript
- Jennifer Ackerman Week: Part V (June 19, 2020)
The “Dr. Ruth of Ornithology” loved the sections of Jennifer Ackerman’s new book, The Bird Way about “Love” and “Parenting.”
- Jennifer Ackerman Week: Part IV: Play (June 18, 2020)
The section about birds playing in Jennifer Ackerman’s The Bird Way may be Laura’s favorite.Duration: 5′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- Jennifer Ackerman Week: Part III (June 17, 2020)
Today Laura focuses on the section about bird senses in Jennifer Ackerman’s The Bird Way.
- Jennifer Ackerman Week: Part II (June 16, 2020)
Laura talks about Part I of Jennifer Ackerman’s book, The Bird Way, titled “Talk.”
- Jennifer Ackerman Week: Part I (June 15, 2020)
Laura is remembering Jennifer Ackerman’s book The Genius of Birds as she starts a week of looking at Ackerman’s new book, The Bird Way.Duration: 5′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Backyard Happenings (June 12, 2020)
Laura tells us what’s happening in her own backyard and that of a few listeners.Duration: 4′25″ Related blog post with transcript
- Exsanguination (June 11, 2020)
How much blood can a bird lose before dying? How do we know this? And is that little bit of knowledge worth the cost of finding it out? (This is based on a program I did in 1994.)
- House Wrens (June 10, 2020)
Laura’s having a lot of fun with her backyard House Wrens.Duration: 4′48″ Related blog post with transcript
- Gall Bladders (June 9, 2020)
Thirty years ago, Laura had her gall bladder out, which set her to wondering whether birds have such a thing.Duration: 4′29″ Related blog post with transcript
- By the Dawn's Early Dark (June 8, 2020)
Is it really necessary to get up while it’s still dark to see a lot of birds? (The recording in the background is part of the one I recorded on May 31.)
- Racism and Climate Activism (June 5, 2020)
Laura talks about a wonderful newsletter, “Heated,” about climate issues and also about an upcoming workshop Al Gore will be sponsoring about addressing climate change. George Floyd’s death is making it clearer to many people how, because of systemic racism, the Black community is disproportionately affected by both climate change and COVID-19. Read more about the newsletter and how to enroll in Al Gore’s workshop (free but requires registration) at Laura’s blog.
- Laura's Neighborhood Surveillance Program (June 3, 2020)
Laura knows when a fox has been around even when she’s not paying attention at the time.
- #BlackBirdersWeek (June 1, 2020)
Birding has always been uniquely dangerous for Black people. It’s time white birders started listening, and taking responsibility for making the birding community and our nation safer for everyone.
- Update: End of May (May 29, 2020)
Even hunkering at home, Laura is still having fun, right now with hummingbirds and orioles. She also answers the question, should we offer jelly?
- This Year's Piping Plovers: Good News! (May 28, 2020)
Good news about Piping Plovers on the Great Lakes and in Maine!
- Endangered Endangered Species Act (May 27, 2020)
Our Endangered Species Act is itself endangered, which bodes ill for the Golden-winged Warbler and many other species.
- Barbara Kelly's Baby Robins (May 25, 2020)
Reports about a Hayward robin nest are filling Laura with joy and hope.
- Spying on My Backyard Birds (May 22, 2020)
Laura has been keeping track of her birds even when she’s sleeping or working indoors.
- Upward Mobility in Baby Blue Jays (May 20, 2020)
In 1991, Laura made a charmingly frustrating discovery about baby Blue Jays.
- Brown-headed Cowbird, Part 2 (May 18, 2020)
As much as Laura likes cowbirds, she thinks it’s best not to subsidize them with food. She explains why.
- Brown-headed Cowbird, Part I (May 15, 2020)
Sarah Caldwell, who listens to this program on WDRT, asked Laura to talk about a fascinating bird, the Brown-headed Cowbird .Duration: 4′34″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spring Update (May 14, 2020)
Laura brings us up to date on the Peabody Street bird activity and relates some stories she received via email from New Hampshire and Excelsior, Minnesota.
- Blast from the Past: Sneakers and the Jumping Beans (May 12, 2020)
Laura just unearthed the transcript of a program from 1995 about her education Blue Jay, Sneakers, when she discovered Mexican jumping beans.
- Margaret Morse Nice (May 11, 2020)
Today is the 85th anniversary of the day Margaret Morse Nice followed a Song Sparrow over an entire 24-hour period, counting every one of the 2,305 songs he sang and recording every one of his behaviors.
- Boundary Waters cell phone tower update (May 8, 2020)
Whatever happened about the 450-foot guyed, lighted cell phone tower AT&T wanted to build at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness?
- Questions from Eagle River (May 6, 2020)
Laura fields questions about disappearing chickadees and other birds and about a bird who has been drumming on a basketball backboard right outside a weary but curious listener’s window.
- Migration Progression (May 4, 2020)
Backyard birding is providing lots of new birds right now.
- Balancing Our Curiosity and Wonder with What Birds Need (May 1, 2020)
Kadi Franson asked Laura Erickson to do a program about checking our own sense of curiosity and wonder with what birds need.Duration: 5′14″ Related blog post with transcript
- Bonus Thursday: Backyard Update (April 30, 2020)
Laura’s been photographing and recording her backyard birds.Duration: 4′31″ Related blog post with transcript
- Kinglets! (April 29, 2020)
Laura talks about two birds passing through the Northland right this very moment.Duration: 4′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tuesday Bonus: The Tale of Frederick and Sneakers (April 28, 2020)
Laura tells the completely fictitious (but it could be true, maybe) story of a baby nighthawk and a baby Blue Jay.Duration: 6′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spring Is Springing! (April 27, 2020)
Lots of new birds are showing up on Peabody Street. (Photo here is by Brad Snelling)Duration: 4′17″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spirit V. Soul (April 24, 2020)
What’s the difference between spirit and soul, and why do birds so perfectly embody both?
- Earth Day 2020 (April 22, 2020)
Laura had the perfect visitor this week to help her celebrate Earth Day.
- Tuesday bonus: Laura's Best Bird EVER! A Brown Creeper Goes to School (April 21, 2020)
One particular Brown Creeper, who visited the school Laura was teaching at in 1977, became her Best Bird EVER.
- They Shoot Swans, Don't They? (TIME SENSITIVE. MUST be aired on April 20,.) (April 20, 2020)
The US Fish and Wildlife Service managed to sneak in a proposal to open a hunting season on swans in the Central, Mississippi, and Atlantic flyways (including Minnesota and Wisconsin). The deadline for comments is TODAY, Monday, April 20, at 10:59 p,m. CDT.Duration: 6′02″ Related blog post with transcript
- Brown Creeper (April 17, 2020)
KAXE listener Polly Edington saw a new bird this week, a Brown Creeper. Laura tells us a little about this bird; she shares more information about it on her blog.Duration: 4′40″ Related blog post with transcript
- How Wildlife Is Faring During the Shutdown (April 15, 2020)
How are birds and other wildlife doing during the shutdown? (Ends with music)
- Bonus program: More than You Wanted to Know about Sandhill Cranes, Part 2 (April 14, 2020)
Today Laura talks about the life history of Sandhill Cranes
- More than You Wanted to Know about Sandhill Cranes, Part I (April 13, 2020)
Laura talks about a splendid bird, the Sandhill Crane. (Bonus program, Part II, will be available for tomorrow)
- Little Women's Beth (April 10, 2020)
Laura and her children once worked out which bird was which character in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The hardest to figure out was Beth.
- Camera Fun (April 8, 2020)
Laura may be hunkered down, safe at home right now, but she’s been learning a new skill—taking photos remotely.Duration: 4′50″ Related blog post with transcript
- Junco Migration Kicks In! (April 6, 2020)
Laura finally has dozens of birds in her yard!
- Living Heroes: Bob Hinkle (April 3, 2020)
Much of Laura’s life was shaped thanks to a single class she took in college.Duration: 5′40″ Related blog post with transcript
- April Fool, 2020 version (April 1, 2020)
How are Blue Jays helping people with social distancing? A word from Jim Baker of Baker’s Blue Jay Barn (Up the Shore a Ways) and the California Ravens, too.
- The Birds and the Bees (March 31, 2020)
Del Stubbs and Celine Thouin of Pinewood, Minnesota, share a fascinating story, with photos on Laura’s blog, about a swarm of bees, and Laura brings us up to date on spring migration.Duration: 4′27″ Related blog post with transcript
- What is a human, or a bird, worth? (March 30, 2020)
The value of living things cannot be measured in dollars.Duration: 6′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- Chickadee Therapy (March 25, 2020)
Laura talks about how chickadees are brightening the days of many people during these hard times, and KAXE listener Polly Edington shared her exciting up-close and personal encounters with her backyard chickadees.
- Coping in a Time of Pandemic (March 24, 2020)
How do we fill the hours when we’re stuck at home? Laura is trying to appeal to the better angels of her nature.Duration: 5′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Crowded Outdoors (March 23, 2020)
People are not following social distancing rules right now, putting all of us at risk
- Backyard Fox! (March 20, 2020)
Laura’s been looking at wildlife in her own backyard, and hearing about what others are seeing.
- Cacawphony (March 19, 2020)
On Monday, Laura had a fun birding experience just a couple of blocks from home.Duration: 4′38″ Related blog post with transcript
- Social Distancing While Birding (March 18, 2020)
Laura and Dr. Peter Crosson have tips for social distancing when getting out birding.
- Covid-19: Home for the Duration (March 16, 2020)
Hunkering down during a pandemic, nature can still provide balm for our soul.Duration: 5′58″ Related blog post with transcript
- Duck Stamp Regulation Change: Just Say No! (March 13, 2020)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a new regulation requiring that in the future, every Federal Duck Stamp depict an element of hunting rather than allowing art depicting wild ducks in natural habitat. Laura says, “Just say no!” Why?
(This program must air by March 16, 2020.)Duration: 7′16″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Heartbreak of Rehabbing Birds (March 3, 2020)
Marge Gibson of the Raptor Education Group, Inc. in Antigo, Wisconsin, has been dealing with some heartbreaking situations lately.
Both the Minnesota and Wisconsin DNRs have TIP lines if you have any information on the shooting of native/protected wildlife. You can remain anonymous, though providing your name can be helpful in the successful prosecution of offenders.
Minnesota Turn in Poachers (TIP): 800-652-9093.
Wisconsin DNR Hotline 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367.
And please consider supporting the work REGI does.Duration: 7′15″ Related blog post with transcript
- Forty-five Years of Bird Watching AND Birding (March 2, 2020)
Laura started birdwatching, and birding, 45 years ago today.
- Laura's Best Bird EVER! The Owl Who Lived (Feb. 24, 2020)
Laura saw a Boreal Owl in the Bog last week, calling to mind the most special Boreal Owl of all.
- Cardiac Rehab (Feb. 21, 2020)
Laura’s back birding at pretty much full speed thanks to cardiac rehab.
- Giving Mozart the Last Word on Starlings (Feb. 20, 2020)
Laura can’t end a series of programs about starlings without mentioning Mozart.Duration: 5′47″ Related blog post with transcript
- A Tale of Two Mortimers, Part 2 (Feb. 19, 2020)
Laura received a fascinating email from Timothy Flannery, who is just as fascinated with starlings as Laura is.Duration: 4′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- A Tale of Two Mortimers, Part I (Feb. 18, 2020)
Thirty years ago, Laura and her family had a pet starling named Mortimer. How did that come about, and why is she suddenly thinking about him again?Duration: 4′46″ Related blog post with transcript
- Of Caeca and Appendices (Feb. 17, 2020)
One of Laura’s listeners, named Beth, was recently in the hospital for a ruptured appendix, leading Laura to think about bird digestion.
- Marie's Birds (Feb. 14, 2020)
KAXE listener Phil Shore told Laura about the pleasure that his mother Marie, staying in a nursing facility near St. Louis, gets from looking out at birds.
- Jack Shelton's Conversations with a Grackle (Feb. 12, 2020)
Bemidji listener Jack Shelton shared an interesting experience with a Great-tailed Grackle in Nicaragua.Duration: 3′13″ Related blog post with transcript
- Superb Owl Sunday, 2020 (Feb. 6, 2020)
Laura and Russ found one superb owl this Sunday, and also found themselves in the same scenario as a character in the movie Airplane!Duration: 4′41″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tragic News (Feb. 3, 2020)
The Great Gray Owl Laura talked about last week came to a tragic end.Duration: 6′22″ Related blog post with transcript
- My Gratitude Folder (Jan. 30, 2020)
Laura uses her computer’s screen saver folder to conjure photos at random that remind her of everything she loves.Duration: 3′31″ Related blog post with transcript
- Great Gray Owl (Jan. 29, 2020)
Laura spent time yesterday, up close and personal, with a magnificent owl that found itself in urban Duluth.
- Global Bird Weekend (Oct. 16, 2020)