For the Birds Radio Program
Retirement Starts January 1
(Dec. 26, 2021)
I’m turning 70 in November, and as of January 1, I am retiring. I’ll still produce For the Birds episodes as I have interesting things to say, but will no longer work hard to produce as many as possible each week. I may produce 5 episodes in a single week, or may go several weeks without producing any, as my personal, family, and birding schedules allow. And I won’t search for suitable reruns for the Air Calendar page. Stations are welcome to air new or old programs as they wish, or to drop the series entirely. Anyone who wishes to hear new programs as I produce them can subscribe to the podcast or listen via my website. Those won’t be changing.Audio missing
- Microclimates: KUMD version (Nov. 30, 2021)
What do hummingbirds and little dogs have in common? Laura also bids farewell to Lisa Johnson, who is leaving KUMD after 30 years.Duration: 5′59″ Related blog post with transcript
- Microclimates (Nov. 30, 2021)
Laura’s been thinking about how little dogs and hummingbirds are alike.
- Black Friday Adventure! (Nov. 29, 2021)
Laura doesn’t usually go shopping on Black Friday, but this year she drove up to Two Harbors to buy something not available anywhere else.
- Poop List! (Nov. 23, 2021)
Since the 1970s, Laura has been keeping various lists of birds. Today she talks about the most unsavory list of all.
- Hummingbird Sunday (Nov. 22, 2021)
Yesterday the weather was frightful—frigid and windy—but the Rufous Hummingbird continued at Laura’s feeders. (You may recognize the opening music from Laura’s beloved TV program, Pushing Daisies. The bird sound featured at the very end is the very hummingbird featured in today’s program.)
- Hummingbird Identification (ID Part 2) (Nov. 19, 2021)
Without capturing Laura’s vagrant hummingbird, how are birders sure it’s a Rufous Hummingbird rather than the almost identical Allen’s Hummingbird? (The linked blog post has lots of photos which listeners might be interested in.)Duration: 5′46″ Related blog post with transcript
- Identification (Nov. 18, 2021)
Laura doesn’t usually talk about bird identification, but sometimes it’s important to focus on who’s who. UPDATE: The hummingbird was back this morning.
- Pileated Woodpecker (Nov. 16, 2021)
The American Birding Association Bird of the Year for 2021, the Pileated Woodpecker, is one of Laura’s favorites. Right now she’s been seeing a male with a USGS band on his right leg. It’s taking time to read the 9-digit number.
- Hummingbird Update (Nov. 15, 2021)
Laura’s neighborhood got 3 inches of snow on Saturday. How did the Rufous Hummingbird hanging out in her neighborhood fare? (Monday morning update: She made it through the cold night last night!)Duration: 6′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- November Hummingbird! (Nov. 12, 2021)
Laura got to enjoy something very special for her birthday–a Rufous Hummingbird at a feeder on her own front porch!Duration: 5′31″ Related blog post with transcript
- Top Ten Reasons Seventy Is a Good Number (Nov. 11, 2021)
Laura works Belted Kingfishers and her first warblers into this year’s Top Ten birthday list.
- Last Day in My Sixties (Nov. 10, 2021)
Tomorrow, Laura turns 70, making her look back on the last decade.Duration: 6′09″ Related blog post with transcript
- EXTRA: Birds in the News— Live Interview at KUMD with Lisa Johnson (Nov. 6, 2021)
This aired live on November 5 and was very fun to do. Lisa has been one of the very best interviewers I’ve dealt with in my long career, and I’ve been interviewed on a lot of local, state, and national radio and television news programs. Lisa always does her homework, so her questions are always intelligent and informed (seriously—very few people in media have her knowledge about nature and environmental issues), and her quick wit is SO fun to engage with!
Here we talk about the Audubon Naturalist Society dropping “Audubon” from its name, the California Condor’s so-called “virgin births” announced last week, and New Zealand announcing a tiny little mammal as its Bird of the Year.Duration: 16′16″ Related blog post with transcript
- Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching (Nov. 5, 2021)
Laura concludes National Pigeon Week by talking to Rosemary Mosco about pigeons used in wartime.
- Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching, Part 4 (Nov. 4, 2021)
Rosemary Mosco explains why pigeons have never been raised as prolifically in captivity as chickens, how cool their neck’s circulatory system is, what B.F. Skinner really thought about pigeons, and how Charles Darwin was totally smitten by them.Duration: 6′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching Part 3 (Nov. 3, 2021)
Today Rosemary Mosco explains how we know the Neanderthals domesticated pigeons, and ways people have used pigeons over the ages.
- Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching, Part 2 (Nov. 2, 2021)
Today Rosemary Mosco tells Laura why pigeons are doves, why they’re dinosaurs, and why they’re puppies.
- Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching, Part I (Nov. 1, 2021)
Laura decided to make this National Pigeon Week to celebrate Rosemary Mosco’s new book, A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching: Getting to Know the World’s Most Misunderstood Bird. She interviewed Rosemary Mosco this summer. Today’s program recounts parts of the conversation explaining why Mosco loves pigeons so much.Duration: 6′08″ Related blog post with transcript
- 1991 Halloween Blizzard Reminiscences (Oct. 29, 2021)
Laura remembers the famous Halloween snow storm 30 years ago.
- Pandemic Birding (Oct. 28, 2021)
Yesterday, Ethan Freedman wrote an op-ed for Slate magazine about how the pandemic made him lose interest in birding. Laura hopes he at least keeps an interest in protecting the environment that we and birds share.
- Sharing a Sense of Wonder with Walter (Oct. 5, 2021)
Laura talks about the delight she takes in watching her little grandson looking at birds.Duration: 5′49″ Related blog post with transcript
- Migration Update (Sept. 29, 2021)
This is a banner year for Blue Jays in Duluth. Laura’s concerned about how other species are doing.
- Camera Fun with Pileated Woodpeckers (Sept. 28, 2021)
Laura talks about some of her exciting experiences photographing Pileated Woodpeckers. All the photos she mentions are on today’s Blog post.
- Hot, Peppery Bird Food (Sept. 20, 2021)
Laura’s window feeder entices a couple of squirrels more than she wanted, but she found an effective, if expensive, solution.
- Acorn Woodpeckers, Part 2 (Sept. 3, 2021)
We humans aren’t the only species into violent spectator sports.
- Acorn Woodpeckers, Part I (Sept. 2, 2021)
Laura talks about a bird with a fascinating mating system.
- Interesting Hummingbird Research (Aug. 31, 2021)
Research about a tropical hummingbird, the White-necked Jacobin, is making scientists pay attention to the advantages females with brighter plumage have, at least in super aggressive species.Duration: 5′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- Misidentifying Rarities (Aug. 24, 2021)
It’s important to look through our hummingbirds just in case there’s an outlier species. But sometimes we’re going to misidentify them, as Laura understands firsthand.
- Outlier Hummingbirds (Aug. 23, 2021)
Although just about every hummingbird in the East is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, outliers do occasionally appear.Duration: 5′18″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tiny Miracles (Aug. 18, 2021)
Hummingbirds are flooding through north country right now.
- Dogged Birding after the Dog Days (Aug. 16, 2021)
Why do some birds think it’s autumn?
- Murky Vision (Aug. 5, 2021)
Laura is dismayed by the murky air and what it says about our shortsightedness.Duration: 6′04″ Related blog post with transcript
- Of Nighthawks and Kind People (July 22, 2021)
A guy named Dan helped restore Laura’s faith in people, right when she needed it.
- Climate Change (July 19, 2021)
Baby humans and birds are vulnerable to particulates in the atmosphere this summer thanks to the smoke of forest fires in Canada and the American West.
- Winter Wren (July 15, 2021)
Laura had a lovely time with a Winter Wren at Rib Mountain State Park in Wausau, Wisconsin.
- Chukar! (July 14, 2021)
Laura just saw a Chukar, the national bird of Iraq and Pakistan, in her own neighborhood!
- Acadian Flycatchers at Rib Mountain State Park in Wisconsin (July 12, 2021)
Laura just discovered a lovely spot at Rib Mounta Wausau, Wisconsin, where Acadian Flycatchers nest. Unfortunately, development for a private ski club is putting this population, the furthest north in Wisconsin, in jeopardy.Duration: 5′02″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hot July Birding: Golden-cheeked Warbler at Balcones Canyonlands NWR (July 2, 2021)
It takes a combination of luck and stupidity to see a Golden-cheeked Warbler in late July when the temperature is over 110ºF.Duration: 3′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hot July Birding: Colima Warbler in Big Bend (July 1, 2021)
Some of Laura’s best birds during her Big Year in 2013 were seen thanks to luck rather than good planning.Duration: 5′38″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Lost Weekend (June 29, 2021)
In 1976, Laura learned a valuable lesson about the importance of saying no and being adaptable when birding with others.Duration: 5′57″ Related blog post with transcript
- How Baby Woodpeckers Learn (June 28, 2021)
One of Laura’s friends asks how woodpeckers know to bash their faces into trees to get food.Duration: 5′36″ Related blog post with transcript
- Technology to Help Citizen Scientists (June 24, 2021)
Birds, and flying squirrels, are having troubles due to warming temperatures and other environmental issues. Citizen science is an important tool that can help us minimize the damage. Laura talks about some technology that will help us individuals contribute our own data to help.Duration: 5′35″ Related blog post with transcript
- Cuckoos! (June 23, 2021)
Laura talks about cuckoos, far and near.
- Fantastic News on the Bird Front (June 22, 2021)
There’s great news this year for Piping Plovers!
- Horrible News on the Bird Front (June 21, 2021)
Today and tomorrow, Laura is talking about birds in the news. Today she covers the bad news.Duration: 6′22″ Related blog post with transcript
- Out with the Old, and In with the New (June 18, 2021)
Laura’s baby chickadees may have fledged, but the cavity they built in her cherry tree has attracted a new bird.
- Connecticut Warbler (June 15, 2021)
Last week, Laura spent 45 minutes watching and recording a Connecticut Warbler in the Sax-Zim Bog.
- Dickcissel (June 11, 2021)
Dickcissels are usually not found in northern Wisconsin or Minnesota, but this year is an exception.
- A Visit to Port Wing (June 9, 2021)
Laura and her little dog Pip took a pleasant trip to Port wing yesterday.
- Fledging! (June 8, 2021)
The baby chickadees in Laura’s cherry tree fledged on Friday.
- The Catbird's Seat (June 1, 2021)
Sunday, a Gray Catbird reminded Laura why it belongs on her Top Ten List of Favorite Birds. Throughout the program, you can hear the catbird that was singing on Sunday throughout today’s program.
- Chickadee Worries (May 31, 2021)
Laura spends a lot of time worrying about her nesting chickadees. She can’t help it.
- Pesticides: Just say no! (May 28, 2021)
The chickadees nesting in Laura’s backyard depend on plenty of insects to raise their young, raising Laura’s awareness of how important caterpillars are right when people are turning to pesticides to eradicate insects. In the Washington, D.C. area where cicadas have been emerging, birds are being found dead and dying from something neurological that is causing them to go blind. We don’t know what the cause is, but it quite possibly is the pesticides people are using to eradicate the cicadas.Duration: 6′21″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Last of the Evening Grosbeaks? (May 26, 2021)
Laura’s large flock of Evening Grosbeaks made the front page of the Duluth News-Tribune and instantly went on their way.
- Wood Thrush! (May 25, 2021)
Laura just added a new bird to her yard list, and she’s very happy.Duration: 4′46″ Related blog post with transcript
- Red-headed Woodpecker! (May 24, 2021)
Last week Laura saw an exciting bird–one she hasn’t seen in her yard in over a decade.
- Thar Be Baby Chickadees!! (May 17, 2021)
Laura discovered something exciting on Saturday.
- Spring Update (May 14, 2021)
Evening Grosbeaks and nesting chickadees are keeping Laura happy despite this slow spring migration. The bird recordings today, made by Laura, are of her Evening Grosbeaks and the male chickadee nesting in her cherry tree.Duration: 5′04″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Price of Getting Older (May 13, 2021)
Getting older comes with a few sensory losses.Duration: 5′27″ Related blog post with transcript
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Pam's Chickadees (May 12, 2021)
Blog reader Pam writes about an exciting encounter with chickadees in trouble, with a happy ending.Duration: 3′57″ Related blog post with transcript
- Song Sparrows! (May 11, 2021)
This program, dedicated to nine-year-old Aleda, is celebrates what Laura calls Song Sparrow Day.
- What IS a Warbler? (May 10, 2021)
How are warblers different from other songbirds?
- Celebrity Watch: Monty and Rose (May 7, 2021)
With help from her friend Susan Szeszol, Laura brings us up to date on the famous Monty and Rose, the first Piping Plovers to successfully nest in Chicago since 1955.
- Gee Whiz, RIP (May 6, 2021)
A 38-year-old Whooping Crane named Gee Whiz had an important role in the history of the International Crane Foundation and in saving his species. He died earlier this year.
- Chickadee Nesting Update (May 5, 2021)
What are Laura’s nesting chickadees up to?
- Evening Grosbeaks! (May 4, 2021)
Laura is enjoying more Evening Grosbeaks than she’s seen since the 1980s.Duration: 5′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Miracles of May (May 3, 2021)
A flood of migrating birds are returning. To enjoy them without hurting them, Laura offers a few feeder tips.
- Saw-whet Owls and Chickadees (April 30, 2021)
If the FCC knew what chickadees were really saying, they might not allow anyone to play their recordings on the air.Duration: 5′29″ Related blog post with transcript
- Chickadees and Trust (April 28, 2021)
Laura asks if any listeners have had chickadees approach them asking for help.Duration: 4′05″ Related blog post with transcript
- Evening Grosbeaks! (April 27, 2021)
Laura looked out the window on Sunday to see a dozen Evening Grosbeaks.Duration: 5′03″ Related blog post with transcript
- Nesting Chickadees Enter Stage 3! (April 26, 2021)
Laura’s chickadees are now building the nest inside their cavity.
- Earth Day 2021 (April 22, 2021)
Earth Day is about activism, both collective and individual.Duration: 6′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- Investing in the Future (April 21, 2021)
When it comes to saving for the future, Blue Jays are way smarter than we humans.
- Our Not-So-Far-Flung Correspondents: Letter from Aleda (April 20, 2021)
Laura heard from a most interesting radio listener last week.
- Spring Update (April 19, 2021)
Day by day and week by week, birds are coming and going on Peabody Street.
- Hygiene and Hand-feeding Birds (April 16, 2021)
Does Laura follow CDC guidelines about feeding birds?Duration: 4′52″ Related blog post with transcript
- Two projects for helping birds (April 15, 2021)
Listeners told Laura about two projects, one in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Minnesota, that involve birds, where we may make a difference.Duration: 6′11″ Related blog post with transcript
- Handfeeding birds (April 14, 2021)
One of Laura’s listeners, Mark Roser, wrote about a Tufted Titmouse he feeds by hand, and a blog reader tells about the fun she’s getting from one particular chickadee at her home office window feeder. They ask for advice about hand-feeding.Duration: 4′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- April Update (April 13, 2021)
What birds are arriving on Peabody Street?
- Chickadee nest! (Or at least a cavity) (April 12, 2021)
Chickadees may be nesting in Laura’s old cherry tree. Time will tell.
- Salmonella outbreak (April 6, 2021)
A salmonella outbreak related to bird feeding has made the New York Times.
- Robins!! (April 5, 2021)
Laura’s first robin of spring finally arrived and started singing this weekend!
- Florida's Dark Side (March 24, 2021)
Protections for fragile populations of Florida’s unique wildlife never seem to be enacted until it’s too late.
- Florida the Magnificent (March 23, 2021)
Of mainland America’s 49 states, Florida is unique in the number of plants and animals found nowhere else in the country, and Laura is in love with a great many of its wonderful birds.
- Bird Envy (March 22, 2021)
Laura has long appreciated how much more advanced bird senses are than ours, but suddenly last week, she discovered a new reason to envy them.
- Feed the birds, but do it right! (March 16, 2021)
Sometimes feeding birds causes problems, but the pandemic has revealed an unexpected problem when tourists stopped feeding birds.
- Birds in the News, Part I (March 15, 2021)
Good news and bad news in the world of birds.
- Women's History Month: Florence Merriam Bailey (March 12, 2021)
During this Women’s History Month, Laura will be talking about women who made important advances in ornithology.
- Spring! (March 10, 2021)
We will certainly have plenty of frigid weather in the coming weeks, but spring is here.Duration: 5′09″ Related blog post with transcript
- George Miksch Sutton's Poem, "Forever and Ever, Amen" (March 9, 2021)
Today Laura reads George Miksch Sutton’s poem, “Forever and Ever, Amen.” To reproduce this poem in any form, credit must be given to George Miksch Sutton, and the poem must be reproduced in its entirety.
- George Miksch Sutton, Part I (March 8, 2021)
Today Laura remembers one of her favorite bird artists, who drew some of her most treasured portraits of baby birds.
- Anniversary of The Day After (March 4, 2021)
Forty-six years ago yesterday was the first morning in her life that Laura woke up having a life list.Duration: 5′37″ Related blog post with transcript
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents: WDRT Listener Mark Kastel's Barn Swallows (Feb. 25, 2021)
Mark Kastel, who listens to “For the Birds” on WDRT in Viroqua, Wisconsin, shares a lovely experience with Barn Swallows.
- Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Amber Li's Starlings (Feb. 19, 2021)
One of Laura’s correspondents was having problems with too many starlings at her feeding station. How did she solve it?Duration: 4′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- Looking for the Special Ones (Feb. 18, 2021)
When we pay attention to special individual birds in our backyards, we have more at stake during horrible cold spells. Laura is nervous about some birds she hasn’t seen lately, but also got some wonderful news about an individual bird she’s never even seen but deeply cares about.
- Our far-flung correspondents: The Greatest Gift (Feb. 12, 2021)
A few weeks ago, KUMD listener Frank Koshere wrote to Laura about the importance of exposing small children to natural sounds.Duration: 4′39″ Related blog post with transcript
- Winter Bird Feeding (Feb. 11, 2021)
Laura didn’t see a single owl on Superb Owl Sunday this year–birds are hunkering down during this cold spell. How can we help them?
- Winter's End (Feb. 8, 2021)
We may be going through the coldest spell of the entire winter, but there are signs that winter is just about over.
- Superb Owl Sunday, 2021 (Feb. 5, 2021)
This Sunday is the day Laura celebrates as Superb Owl Sunday. What will she see?
- What Were You Doing When You Were Seven? Part 3 (Feb. 3, 2021)
Last time, Laura reminisced about what she was doing when she was seven. Today she talks about how those early experiences shaped her life as an adult.Duration: 3′46″ Related blog post with transcript
- What Were You Doing When You Were Seven? Part 2 (Feb. 1, 2021)
Last week Laura talked about Bob Hinkle’s question, “What were you doing when you were seven?” Today, she talks about her own experiences at that age.
- What were you doing when you were seven? Part I (Jan. 27, 2021)
Laura’s mentor Bob Hinkle asked a profound question. The answer will affect how committed each of us is about protecting the environment as an adult.
- Figuring Out the Big World (Jan. 25, 2021)
Laura has been looking through what she wrote about a baby Pileated Woodpecker she raised in 1998 and thinking about how it learned new things compared with how her baby grandson is figuring things out. She also talks about how some birds understand reflections in mirrors better than others.Duration: 4′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- Of Supernovae and Full Moons (Jan. 22, 2021)
The American Birding Association’s Jeff Gordon wrote, “Pileated Woodpeckers have gone from seeming like supernovae to something more like the full moon: impressive and enchanting, and mysterious, yes, but neither rare nor unpredictable.” Laura agrees.
- The Dinosaur Connection (Jan. 20, 2021)
Why do we talk about dinosaurs as if we’d actually seen them?
- A Lost Little Bird on a Great Big Lake (Jan. 18, 2021)
Laura drove up to Stoney Point this weekend to see a lost little bird, quite possibly of the same species that Pa Ingalls brought home in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book, The Long Winter.Duration: 5′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Reverend Bachman's Doomed Baby Pileated Woodpeckers (Jan. 15, 2021)
John Bachman, one of John James Audubon’s friends, wrote about a rather horrifying encounter with Pileated Woodpeckers for Audubon’s Birds of America.
- Birds, and One Birder, in the News (Jan. 13, 2021)
Sick siskins, flying condors, bird brains, and a major award for a poet who has read some of his work on “For the Birds” are in the news.
- Real vs. Virtual Bird Songs (Jan. 11, 2021)
Listening to bird recordings can bring us a lot of pleasure, and enhances our sense of well-being. But how does that compare to listening to real bird songs?Duration: 5′05″ Related blog post with transcript
- American Birding Association 2021 Bird of the Year (Jan. 8, 2021)
It took Laura 6 days to see this year’s new ABA Bird of the Year. Where were her two Pileated Woodpeckers before that?
- Bog Birding (Jan. 6, 2021)
Laura started the year right, with a day of birding in the bog.
- Evening Grosbeak (Jan. 1, 2021)
Laura’s New Year’s wish is to see lots of Evening Grosbeaks this year. We’re in the midst of a “finch superflight,” but Evening Grosbeaks have been few and far between in Duluth. Laura talks about why.
- Microclimates: KUMD version (Nov. 30, 2021)