For the Birds Radio Program
Birding on a Cold November Day
(Dec. 1, 2023)
Laura went birding in northern Wisconsin Saturday.Duration: 3′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- Toddler-Approved Bird Books, Part 3b (Nov. 30, 2023)
When we read books to toddlers, we’re not only enlarging their picture of the world–we’re enlarging out own.Duration: 6′11″ Related blog post with transcript
- Toddler-Approved Bird Books, Part 3a (Nov. 29, 2023)
Reading to babies and toddlers has a great many benefits for us adults as well as the wee ones.
- Florida Scrub-Jays, Part 3: To Feed or Not to Feed (Nov. 27, 2023)
Laura talks about the pros and cons of feeding Florida Scrub-Jays, and why it’s best to follow the current anti-feeding guidelines.
- Thanksgiving 2023 (Nov. 23, 2023)
Laura has a lot to be thankful for today.Duration: 7′16″ Related blog post with transcript
- Let's Talk Turkey (Nov. 22, 2023)
Wild Turkeys are splendid birds, but maybe their introduction into areas where they were not historically found wasn’t a good idea.Duration: 5′56″ Related blog post with transcript
- Toddler-Approved Books, Part 2: Identification Guides (Nov. 17, 2023)
Field guides and bird song books help children to recognize and name the birds around them, and that’s a Good Thing.
- Toddler-Approved Bird Books (Nov. 15, 2023)
Must a book be entirely about birds to qualify? Laura doesn’t think so. The books Walter is most enjoying right now are in the “Monkey with a Toolbelt” series, and Laura says they can help us teach the important role that birds play in our daily lives.
- Scrub Jays: From one species to four (Nov. 14, 2023)
Taxonomists have been studying, and revising their names for, scrub jays for a long time.Duration: 4′37″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Healing Grace of Birds (Nov. 13, 2023)
We have no clue how much birds deal with anxiety and worry, but they sure have the capacity to relieve ours.
- Florida Scrub-Jay, Part 2b: To Know Them Is to Love Them (Nov. 8, 2023)
The Florida Scrub-Jay has many endearing habits which, tragically, don’t seem to resonate with Florida’s human population.Duration: 6′16″ Related blog post with transcript
- Florida Scrub-Jay, Part 2a: To Know Them Is to Love Them (Nov. 7, 2023)
Why does Laura have such a personal love for Florida Scrub-Jays?
- What's in a Name? (Nov. 3, 2023)
The American Ornithological Society just announced that they are changing the names of American birds named for people.
- Birding Ethics (Nov. 1, 2023)
Is respecting private property too much to ask?
- Our Responsibilities in Old Age (Oct. 27, 2023)
An astonishing 84 percent of Americans older than 65 think they will have to make just minor sacrifices in their lives, or none at all, because of global climate change. Laura is most seriously displeased.
- Florida Scrub-Jays, Part I (Oct. 25, 2023)
One of the friendliest, most approachable birds on the planet deserves serious protection from the Endangered Species Act, but isn’t getting it.Duration: 5′46″ Related blog post with transcript
- When Plans Go Awry (Oct. 20, 2023)
Sometimes Plan B turns out to be better than Plan A.Duration: 5′44″ Related blog post with transcript
- Flamingo Road, Part 2 (Oct. 17, 2023)
A wild flamingo chase becomes a family affair.Duration: 4′40″ Related blog post with transcript
- Flamingo Road, Part I (Oct. 13, 2023)
Laura has wanted to see a wild American Flamingo in Florida since her first days of birding half a century ago, without luck. Would this trip to Florida be any different? (This episode was recorded in my motel room, so the sound isn’t ideal.)
- When Numbers Get Serious (Oct. 9, 2023)
How accurate are those Blue Jay counts at Hawk Ridge?
- Odd-tober! (Oct. 4, 2023)
A late Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Rose-breasted Grosbeak? More record-breaking numbers of Blue Jays? Flamingos in Wisconsin? This month is already on track to be an outlier.
CORRECTION A newspaper article that I consulted got the name of the St. Marks NWR flamingo wrong, but I didn’t discover this until I’d recorded the program. The name is not Phineas Phlamingo but Pinky. Also, the bird turned up there after Hurricane Michael in 2018, not in 2019.
- Drama on Peabody Street (Sept. 28, 2023)
A Barred Owl turned up in Laura’s yard, distressing all the nearby birds except two hopeful crows.
- Jim Baker Comments on New Hawk Ridge Record (Sept. 27, 2023)
On September 26, 2023, Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth set a new season total for the number of Blue Jays flying past: an amazing 75,860, with more still coming! Jim Baker from Baker’s Blue Jay Barn has a few thoughts.Duration: 3′31″ Related blog post with transcript
- Late Outlier Hummingbirds (Sept. 25, 2023)
You never know when a late hummingbird is going to show up, or what species it will be.
- Oops (Sept. 21, 2023)
Whether you’re a fledgling woodpecker or a person on a bike, landings can be much more awkward than takeoffs.Duration: 4′47″ Related blog post with transcript
- Whatever Happened to National Blue Jay Awareness Month? (Sept. 19, 2023)
Even though Laura, in her dotage, is growing forgetful and consumed with her grandson, she says it’s not her fault that she didn’t mention Blue Jays again after announcing that August was National Blue Jay Awareness Month. She blames the Blue Jays.
- Meet Christian Cooper! (Sept. 18, 2023)
In this week’s episode of her wonderful podcast, “Going Wild,” Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant talks with Christian Cooper, author of Better Living Through Birding and host of the National Geographic Extraordinary Birder television series.Duration: 5′22″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hummingbird Migration (Sept. 15, 2023)
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are lingering in Duluth longer than usual this year. Why is that, and where are they headed?
- Tunnel Vision, Part 2 (Sept. 12, 2023)
Conservation biologists tend to compete and undercut one another rather than cooperating, which can hurt the birds they think they’re helping. Laura’s hero Chandler Robbins provided a stellar example of how cooperation can make things better for everyone, humans and birds alike.
The blog link provides the transcript for Tunnel Vision, Part 1 as well, so you’ll need to scroll down to get today’s transcript.Duration: 7′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tunnel Vision, Part I (Sept. 11, 2023)
Conservation biologists have to look beyond their specialties and cooperate if they really want to help birds. My blog link includes the transcript for both this and the next program.
- Generational Amnesia (Sept. 7, 2023)
People have a deep-rooted tendency to see the natural world as they first experienced it as “normal,” without recognizing the many changes, including tragic, fairly recent losses, that were happening before they started paying attention.
The illustration for today’s podcast was created by John Schoenherr for Sterling North’s 1963 book, Rascal, a memoir of his experiences as a child while his big brother was fighting in World War I. Schoenherr also illustrated the Caldecott Award-winning Owl Moon. Schoenherr gave me permission to use it in my own work, and I thought it worked well to illustrate how abundant nighthawks once were.Duration: 4′03″ Related blog post with transcript
- Exploration, Discovery, and Triumph (Sept. 4, 2023)
As long as Laura has been birding, and specifically as long as she’s been watching Pileated Woodpeckers, she’s still making new discoveries. (As usual, all the photos mentioned in this program are on today’s blogpost.)Duration: 5′14″ Related blog post with transcript
- Nighthawks: Reason for hope (Aug. 29, 2023)
Nighthawks are not recovering their former numbers, but their massive decline seems to have at least leveled off.
- Nighthawks: Why are they declining? (Aug. 28, 2023)
Nighthawks have declined enormously between 1966 and 2015. Why?Duration: 5′57″ Related blog post with transcript
- Nighthawks! Part I: Why I love them so much (Aug. 23, 2023)
Laura recounts two experiences–when she saw her first nighthawk, and when she rehabbed her first one–to explain why she loves this species so very much.
- The Road to Extinction (Aug. 22, 2023)
Paying attention to nature and the environment is every bit as important as paying attention to the marketplace.
- Making Our Yards Safe for Blue Jays (and other birds) (Aug. 18, 2023)
This episode includes important warnings about birdbaths, feeders, and especially peanut butter! (IMPORTANT takeaway–never get peanut butter with xylitol or “birch sugar” as an ingredient.)
- Two Little Boys Turn Three! (Aug. 14, 2023)
Laura’s grandson Walter and her backyard Pileated Woodpecker are both three years old!
- National Blue Jay Awareness Month (Aug. 11, 2023)
This August will have a blue moon, making this what Laura calls National Blue Jay Awareness Month. It’s a good time to think about how Blue Jay adults look their scruffiest and most bedraggled in August, before they start looking their old selves again.
- New Wheels for Birding! (Aug. 10, 2023)
Laura plans to reduce her carbon footprint and have a lot of fun on a new e-bike.
- Disney Wilderness Preserve (Aug. 9, 2023)
Laura loves a truly wild little piece of central Florida protected and maintained by The Nature Conservancy.
- Wild Florida (Aug. 8, 2023)
Wild Florida’s main attractions for visitors are alligators, sloths, and a “wild animal safari,” but Laura was impressed with the wild birds she saw, and especially with the knowledge of an airboat captain who pointed out lots of cool things including her lifer Gray-headed Swamphens.
- Discovery Cove (Aug. 7, 2023)
In April, Laura and her Explore Kissimmee group visited Discovery Cove, a limited-admission park owned by SeaWorld. Laura got great photos and had a lot of fun, but wishes the park provided more information about how and where these animals survive in the wild.
- Lake Tohopekalipa (Aug. 2, 2023)
Lake Tohopekaliga is the best place Laura knows for getting good looks at Limpkins and Snail Kites.
- Kissimmee! (Aug. 1, 2023)
Kissimmee, Florida, in the most touristy part of Florida, is still rich in birdlife.
- Florida in Crisis (July 31, 2023)
Florida’s biodiversity and human diversity are at risk right now even as their governor is driving the state off a cliff, asleep at the wheel.
Warning: Three times in this program I use the word “bullshit,” twice near the beginning and once near the end. Some radio stations may have to bleep that out.
- Parasitic Jaeger in July!! (July 28, 2023)
A Parasitic Jaeger turned up on Park Point in Duluth last weekend, and Laura spent some time watching it Wednesday.Duration: 5′47″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hummingbirds! (July 25, 2023)
It’s time to pay attention to hummingbirds again!
- Teach Your Children Well, Part 2 (July 21, 2023)
Loons must teach their babies about danger, weighing just how dangerous every threat might be. The loon recordings used in this program were made by me during the pontoon boat experience recounted in the episode.
- Teach Your Children Well, Part 1 (July 20, 2023)
How do Blue Jays, Crows, and Pileated Woodpeckers teach their babies to avoid danger?
- Of Magpie Nests and "Man's Pitiful Confusions" (July 19, 2023)
Magpies and crows in Europe are incorporating metal anti-bird spikes into their nests to keep other birds away. Laura finds this doubly “ironic,” reminding us we’re all in this together.
The Eurasian Magpie recording was made by Uku Paal.Duration: 5′11″ Related blog post with transcript
- Ten Year Anniversary of My Quitting Beef (July 17, 2023)
Laura stopped eating beef ten years ago this week, and received a completely unexpected reward in the form of Pacific Golden-Plovers.
- BB's Babies! (July 14, 2023)
Laura’s favorite Pileated Woodpecker has at least two fledglings.
- Summer Update (July 12, 2023)
What’s happening on Peabody Street?
- Finding Baby Winter Wrens (July 11, 2023)
Lang Elliott’s free “Hear Birds Again” app with his recommended headphones is “fantabulous.”
- Air Quality Alert: Are birdbaths safe? And how about bird flu? (July 10, 2023)
When the Air Quality Index is high due to smoke particulates, is it safe to set out birdbaths?Duration: 5′54″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Value of eBird, Part 4: Science, Conservation, and Education (July 5, 2023)
Birders using eBird are making an invaluable contribution to science, conservation, and education. This summer the New York Times is collaborating with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to encourage more birders to use it.Duration: 5′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tools before eBird: Weather radar (July 4, 2023)
Weather radar provides an excellent picture of the movements of migrating birds that has helped demonstrate how serious the losses of birds in North America have been.
- Tools before eBird: The Breeding Bird Survey (July 3, 2023)
The first test we had to measure changes in bird populations, the Breeding Bird Survey, was wonderful but had important shortcomings.
- The Value of eBird, Part 2 (June 27, 2023)
eBird has been a game changer in allowing birders to keep track of every bird they see, and to be able to access information about any of those birds quickly and easily.
- The Value of eBird, Part 1 (June 26, 2023)
When Laura started birding, the only ways of getting the word out about rare birds were slow and inefficient. eBird has been a game changer.
- Great Crested Flycatcher (June 21, 2023)
A quirky bird that is much more often heard than seen.
- Smoke Gets in Your Lungs (June 20, 2023)
How do we explain to toddlers and nesting birds that they must stay indoors with filtered air to be safe as smoke fills the atmosphere?
- Book Review: What an Owl Knows by Jennifer Ackerman (June 19, 2023)
New York Times Bestseller author Jennifer Ackerman has a brand new book about owls. What an Owl Knows is extensively researched, beautifully written, and comprehensive, covering just about every imaginable aspect of owl biology, behavior, and psychology, as well as how they figure in the human imagination. And Laura is delighted that her beloved education owl Archimedes is covered in depth. She used recordings of Archimedes at the start and finish of this program.Duration: 4′48″ Related blog post with transcript
- Merlin: A Different Kind of Magician (June 15, 2023)
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has developed an ever-improving but always free non-commercial app to help us identify bird songs.Duration: 5′38″ Related blog post with transcript
- Reflections on a Wall on Flag Day (June 14, 2023)
Birds use song, not fences, walls, or flags, to mark off their territories, and never send anyone else off to fight their battles. (I’m using Lang Elliott’s Mourning Dove recording to open and close this one because in 1998, Michigan declared the Mourning Dove its official Bird of Peace.Duration: 6′09″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: (June 8, 2023)
Starting the first day Laura started birding, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has been her most valuable and beloved ornithological resource.
- LeConte's Sparrow! (June 7, 2023)
Laura got some photos of this gorgeous little sparrow at the Bog last week, reminding her of the first time she ever saw one.
- Ross's Gull (June 6, 2023)
One of the rarest birds seen in the Lower-48, a Ross’s Gull turned up last week at Wisconsin Point.Duration: 4′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Jelly is killing hummingbirds! (June 5, 2023)
REGI, the state-of-the-art bird rehab clinic in Antigo, Wisconsin, has been admitting hummingbirds covered in grape jelly. Jelly is apparently just too dangerous to feed birds.
- Fascinating Robin Story (June 2, 2023)
One of Laura’s friends gave her yet another reason to love robins.
- Like a Box of Chocolates (May 31, 2023)
When we set out for a day of birding, we never know what we’re going to get, but even when there aren’t many birds, the ones we do see can be pretty sweet.
- Circular Firing Squad: Windows v. Habitat Part II (May 30, 2023)
Helping birds requires us to attack more than one issue at a time.
- Circular Firing Squad: Windows v. Habitat Part I (May 29, 2023)
It took mainstream conservation biologists decades to notice how dangerous collisions with windows are for birds.Duration: 6′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- Dee Dee Nana and Walter's first official Bird Walk (May 26, 2023)
On May 25, Laura took her grandson on a long bird walk, but they saw a lot more than birds.Duration: 5′24″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spring Update: Too Much Windy (May 24, 2023)
The exceptionally high wind on so many days this spring is hard on birds.
- 700: A Memorable Achievement—I Hope! (May 23, 2023)
What was the 700th bird on Laura’s continental US life list? (Photo of Smooth-billed Ani is from Panama in 2019.)
- Snail Kite (May 15, 2023)
A splendid bird that was on the original Endangered Species List is now doing well by making the best of a bad situation.Duration: 5′36″ Related blog post with transcript
- Lesser Prairie-Chicken (May 12, 2023)
In the past 3 weeks, the U.S. House Natural Resource Committee and the U.S. Senate both voted to rescind Endangered Species protections from the imperiled Lesser Prairie-Chicken, a slap in the face to the scientists and managers charged with safeguarding our natural resources, and to all Americans who love this splendid all-American bird, found nowhere on the planet except in the United States, vanishing before our eyes.
- Gray-headed Swamphen (May 4, 2023)
An unexpected four-day trip to Kissimmee, Florida, gave Laura a lifer!Duration: 5′13″ Related blog post with transcript
- A Chickadee in Florida (May 3, 2023)
Traveling to Florida raised several ethical issues for Laura.
- When Numbers Get Serious (May 2, 2023)
Laura talks about the listing and numerical elements of her birding life.Duration: 6′01″ Related blog post with transcript
- Record-breaking Snow and Climate Change (April 21, 2023)
Yesterday’s ice storm in Duluth was harsher on birds than it was on us. (This program mentions the loon fallout happening right now. To report a downed loon, call REGI at 715-623-4015 or Loon Rescue at 715-966-5415.)
- Spring Update (April 20, 2023)
What’s happening at the western tip of Lake Superior right now?
- Avian Influenza Update (April 19, 2023)
Bird flu is far from over. If we are feeding backyard birds, we need to be paying attention to them.Duration: 6′04″ Related blog post with transcript
- Yellow-rumped Warblers (April 18, 2023)
Yellow-rumped Warblers return well before other warblers because they literally have intestinal fortitude.Duration: 4′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- First Robin of Spring (April 11, 2023)
Robins appeal to our eyes and ears, and also to our hearts and souls.Duration: 5′09″ Related blog post with transcript
- April Is the Cruelest Month (April 10, 2023)
April is cruelest for lonely souls who may not discern all the pairings and romantic songs and surging new life all around. Perhaps we must feel a part of nature, rather than bitter onlookers, to take joy in the reawakening of song and romance and nesting and new life.
(This program was recast from a 2004 “For the Birds” program for which the audio is lost.)
- Spring Reunions (April 6, 2023)
Mother Nature loves to play tricks on us on April Fool’s Day, but sometimes it’s worth braving the weather, whether we’re swans or humans.
- Baker's Blue Jay Podcast (for April Fools Day) (April 1, 2023)
Jim Baker, from Baker’s Blue Jay Barn, “Up the Shore a Ways,” has an exciting announcement! (Stations can play this on Friday if they want.)Duration: 5′29″ Related blog post with transcript
- BB, My Special Pileated Woodpecker (March 30, 2023)
Laura’s been keeping track of a banded Pileated Woodpecker since November 2021, and now he seems to have found love.
- Heartbreak on Peabody Street (March 29, 2023)
Laura found herself with a hurt Hairy Woodpecker last week, which reminded her of her old rehab days and why she no longer does this every day.
- Looking for Spring in All the Wrong Places (March 27, 2023)
It’s the sixth snowiest winter on record in Duluth, and Laura is hungry for spring.Duration: 4′51″ Related blog post with transcript
- Flaco the Eagle Owl: To Count or Not to Count? (March 20, 2023)
Last month, a Eurasian Eagle-Owl escaped from the Central Park Zoo in New York City and, despite many efforts to capture him, seems to be doing fine on his own so far. David McArthur, one of Laura’s podcast listeners in New York, wonders if he can count this bird on his life list?
The Eurasian Eagle-Owl recording used in this program was made in France by Dominique Guillerme, XC780278 via xeno-canto.org. And the photo of Flaco is from Wikipedia, taken by Rhododendrites.
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow! (March 14, 2023)
This year, some plucky little Eurasian Tree Sparrows, far from their species’ established range, have been wintering in Superior, Wisconsin. Laura and Erik Bruhnke spent Saturday morning looking for them.
- Enhance Your Nest Boxes with Bark! (March 13, 2023)
Just in time for spring, Laura’s friend, wildlife biologist, and all-around good person Jerry Wayne Davis has a great suggestion for improving our nest boxes–add bark to the front to give birds a more secure and comfortable perch.Duration: 4′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spring Update (March 9, 2023)
It may not look like it yet, but spring has sprung.Duration: 4′44″ Related blog post with transcript
- Chickadee Day (March 8, 2023)
Most birders do not keep track of the date on which they saw the first bird on their life list, but that doesn’t matter.
- Together and Apart (Feb. 24, 2023)
Family vacations can be fun for everyone, as long as we remember that every one of us enjoys different things.
- Earning Trust in the Age of Climate Change (Feb. 20, 2023)
Birds and grandchildren learn to trust us to do the right thing.Duration: 5′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- Birding Basics: Binoculars (Feb. 16, 2023)
Laura talks about things to consider when buying new binoculars
- Superb Owl Sunday 2023 (Feb. 14, 2023)
Laura went out with her husband Russ Sunday in hopes of seeing an owl on Superb Owl Sunday.Duration: 4′59″ Related blog post with transcript
- Birds Specializing on Conifers (Feb. 10, 2023)
Some birds depend on conifers for very specific reasons.
- 100 Plants to Feed the Birds: Conifers (Feb. 8, 2023)
Today Laura talks about the importance of conifers—both trees and shrubs—in backyard habitat, for providing food and shelter both.Duration: 5′39″ Related blog post with transcript
- Slow Birding (Feb. 2, 2023)
A birder named Bridget Butler has been teaching wonderful workshops and online classes about “Slow Birding”—connecting with the birds we see rather than rushing and listing. She did not write the new book titled Slow Birding, a new book by Joan E. Strassmann, which would better have been titled Detailed Descriptions of Some Ornithological Research Projects on Some Familiar Birds.
Many of the tagged species are not mentioned in the podcast but are discussed in the blogpost.
- Dawn Comes to Peabody Street (Jan. 31, 2023)
As night transitions into morning, Laura likes watching the birds show up in her yard, one by one.Duration: 5′32″ Related blog post with transcript
- What to do BEFORE improving backyard habitat: Windows (Jan. 27, 2023)
Cats and glass windows each kill about a BILLION birds every year in the United States. Before inviting birds to your yard, consider making your windows bird safe.
- What to do BEFORE improving backyard habitat: Cats (Jan. 25, 2023)
As important as quality backyard habitat is, we must first make sure we’re not luring birds to their deaths. Cats and windows each kill about a BILLION birds in the United States every year. Laura talks about outdoor cats today.Duration: 5′01″ Related blog post with transcript
- Mourning Doves! (Jan. 24, 2023)
Most Mourning Doves leave northern Minnesota in winter, but listener Kelli Alseth wrote to Laura about one visiting her Proctor feeder this winter. Doves are very vulnerable to cold, but a few stick it out up here. Kelli is doing everything right to ensure that her bird has as good a chance of surviving as possibleDuration: 5′18″ Related blog post with transcript
- A Million Ways to Bird (Jan. 20, 2023)
After growing irritated with the birdwatchers who smugly criticize the way other birdwatchers watch birds, Laura talks about the many ways people can enjoy birds, hoping every individual can find their own individual path.
- Two More Ways to Eat a Sunflower Seed (Jan. 13, 2023)
Blue Jays and chickadees have two different ways to eat a sunflower seed.Duration: 4′23″ Related blog post with transcript
- How to Eat a Sunflower Seed If You're a Dove or a Finch (Jan. 12, 2023)
There are at least four ways that birds eat sunflower seeds. Today Laura explains two of them.
- Stranger in a Strange Land: Adapting to a Novel Environment (Jan. 10, 2023)
Seeing videos of a rescued baby beaver building a dam out of plush toys and Christmas decorations last week reminded Laura of when she was a rehabber, and how wild birds adapted to an unnatural environment.
Virtually all of the transcripts of “For the Birds” programs are available on my blog, usually with photos. I didn’t take a lot of pictures back when I was rehabbing in the 80s and 90s–film and getting it developed were expensive! But for this program I did post photos of my little daughter holding this particular Sora. Listeners may enjoy seeing them.
- First Pileated of 2023 (Jan. 6, 2023)
For the first time ever, Laura didn’t wonder what her first bird of the new year would be–she was thinking about which individual Pileated Woodpecker she’d see first in 2023.
- American Birding Association's Bird of the Year for 2023: Belted Kingfisher! (Jan. 4, 2023)
The Belted Kingfisher has been selected as the 2023 Bird of the Year by the American Birding Association, stirring up lots of memories for Laura.
- Toddler-Approved Bird Books, Part 3b (Nov. 30, 2023)