For the Birds Radio Program
(Dec. 31, 2019)
At the end of 2019, Laura has a lot to be grateful for.
- The End of Mitigation (Dec. 30, 2019)
The federal government’s new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Act means big corporations no longer have to report bird kills caused by their activities, and no longer need to mitigate for habitat destruction or direct wildlife kills.Duration: 5′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- Podcast Extra: The Curious Adventures of Max the Maggot (Dec. 21, 2019)
How an Insignificant Little Grub Saved the Life of a Mighty Hawk.
Laura wrote this story over a decade ago, and some middle school classes in Duluth loved it. But somehow she could not find a publisher for a book about a plucky little maggot, even one based on a true story. It’s been available on Kindle since 2012, but hasn’t earned Laura a single penny. Oh, well.Duration: 25′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- I Can See Clearly Now (Dec. 20, 2019)
Laura had her second cataract surgery on Wednesday. How’s it working out?
(Laura’s dyslexic, and messed up which eye was which at the beginning of this.)
- Bird Declines, Part 2 (Dec. 19, 2019)
Laura talks about some of the reasons birds are declining.
- Bird Declines, Part 1 (Dec. 17, 2019)
Listeners have been writing to Laura about how few birds they’re seeing. What’s going on?
- Color Perception (Dec. 13, 2019)
How do animals see the world? Our imaginations can’t really grasp colors outside our own visual spectrum.Duration: 4′29″ Related blog post with transcript
- Book Review: Randy Hoffman's When Things Happen (Dec. 11, 2019)
Today, Laura reviews Randy Hoffman’s excellent new book, When Things Happen: A Guide to Natural Events in Wisconsin.
- Cataract Surgery: Day 1 (Dec. 5, 2019)
Laura had cataract surgery on her right eye yesterday. What was it like? And how is her vision today?
- Cataract Surgery (Dec. 3, 2019)
Laura is having cataract surgery tomorrow. How will that affect her birding?
- November Drear (Nov. 29, 2019)
November is a hard month, but some backyard critters help Laura endure.
- Malignant Complicity, Part II (Nov. 21, 2019)
Laura’s been thinking about the forces that reach out and grab adults of every generation as the jobs and communities we depend on suck us into complicity with the very elements that may be dooming our futures and the future of the birds we love. Yesterday she talked about her own idealism as a young woman. Today she talks about the first compromise she made with those environmental values she still believes in.Duration: 4′58″ Related blog post with transcript
- Malignant Complicity, Part I (Nov. 20, 2019)
Laura’s been thinking about the forces that reach out and grab adults of every generation as the jobs and communities we depend on suck us into complicity with the very elements that may be dooming our futures and the future of the birds we love.Duration: 3′56″ Related blog post with transcript
- Birds in Art: 2019 (Nov. 19, 2019)
Two weeks ago, Laura went to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau to see this year’s Birds in Art exhibit. This year’s Master Artist is Alan Woollett, whose Atlantic Puffin painting was reproduced on the exhibit catalogue this year, so Laura used a recording of an Atlantic Puffin in the background.Duration: 4′39″ Related blog post with transcript
- Piping Plover Day (Nov. 18, 2019)
Today has been designated Piping Plover Day by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker in honor of one little family of birds and a host of Chicagoans who cared.Duration: 3′22″ Related blog post with transcript
- Okay, Boomer (Nov. 11, 2019)
On her 68th birthday, Boomer Laura talks about the importance of solidarity regardless of generation.
- Phyllis Berman: Trained by a Chickadee (Nov. 1, 2019)
How good are chickadees at training us humans? And what do we get out of it? Laura received an email from Phyllis Berman, in Amherst, Massachusetts, with a charming tale of her love and willingness to help a family of chickadees.
- Sam Cook's Ravens and New Information about Pair Bonds (Oct. 15, 2019)
Sam Cook’s column this week was about a romantic interlude between ravens. New research shows how both birds of a pair can be evolutionarily invested not only in how many young they produce, but how many their mate can successfully produce over a long period of time. Pair bonds can be important for this.Duration: 7′16″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Humanity of Scrub Jays (Oct. 11, 2019)
Laura’s lifetime of encounters with jays has made her think about the meaning of being human.Duration: 6′39″ Related blog post with transcript
- Day of the Condor (Oct. 9, 2019)
Happy news about the California Condor coincided with Laura visiting California to see one up close and personal.
- Peace, Love, Woodstock, and Me! (Oct. 7, 2019)
Last week, Laura was in Santa Rosa, California, to see the Woodstock exhibit at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, where her letter to Schulz is on display.
- A Child Shall Lead Us (Sept. 20, 2019)
Scientists and environmentalists haven’t been able to persuade Americans to do anything about climate change. Now the children are speaking up. Will we listen?
- Too Old for This (Sept. 18, 2019)
Laura can remember when pollution was much worse than it is today, and why California had to set much stricter auto emissions laws than the rest of the country, and why they need them today.Duration: 6′44″ Related blog post with transcript
- Listener Question: Where Are the Chickadees? (Sept. 17, 2019)
Kate Salus, who lives near Solon Springs, Wisconsin, usually gets plenty of chickadees in her yard and at her feeder, but this summer they seem to have disappeared. If listeners have noticed the same thing, please let Laura Erickson know.
- Of Blue Jay, Squirrel, and Human Intelligence (Sept. 9, 2019)
How smart are we, compared to Blue Jays and squirrels? To avoid controversy, getting listeners angry at little radio stations that carry this program, I omitted two important paragraphs from the podcast, which I do include on today’s blog post:
“But since the 1980s, corporate America and wealthy developers have been lobbying to eviscerate the Act, pressing to make it almost impossible for new species to be listed for protection no matter how devastatingly their numbers are declining, and to chip away at enforcement.
“Now suddenly science itself—the discipline that, more than anything else, is cited to prove our so-called superiority to animals—is in jeopardy. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a memo cautioning scientists that even if people in their area were preparing for a hurricane that had no chance of hitting them, meteorologists must not correct totally inaccurate weather predictions made by an angry old man shaking his fists at clouds and drawing his own weather maps with a sharpie.”Duration: 4′54″ Related blog post with transcript
- Nighthawks on the Wing (Sept. 3, 2019)
Laura associates nighthawks with family events. This weekend’s flights were no exception.Duration: 4′44″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hummingbird Migration Update (Aug. 26, 2019)
Watch those hummingbirds!
- Owl Adventure with Laurens Halsey (Aug. 20, 2019)
Laura had a splendid nighttime adventure on a Southeast Arizona Birding Festival field trip for owls with Laurens Halsey. (All recordings on this program were from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology–my own recordings were marginal at best.)Duration: 5′17″ Related blog post with transcript
- Southeast Arizona Birding Festival (Aug. 19, 2019)
Laura had a jolly good time at the Southeast Arizona Birding Festival.
- Piping Plover Update (Aug. 7, 2019)
Piping Plovers are doing very well this year, in Maine and Chicago.
- It Ain't Over Till It's Over (Aug. 5, 2019)
Laura had a heartening experience with Le Conte’s Sparrows that has made her despairing of ever enjoying them again premature. She recorded the background sounds of this program that day.
- Le Conte's Sparrow and Hearing Loss (July 31, 2019)
Laura can see Le Conte’s Sparrow songs better than she can hear them.
- Panama Trip Report, Part II (July 30, 2019)
The second half of Laura’s trip to Panama was spent close to the Colombian border in Darien Province. The bird call you hear is a Harpy Eagle female near a nest, recorded in French Guiana by recordist Olivier Claessens.Duration: 5′13″ Related blog post with transcript
- Panama Trip Report, Part I (July 29, 2019)
Laura is back from Panama. Today she talks about the first two places she visited.Duration: 5′24″ Related blog post with transcript
- Angela Maltese's Robin Story, continued (Robin Drama, Part III) (July 17, 2019)
Laura and Angela Maltese shared notes about how connected they feel when they get to know individual birds.
- Angela Maltese's Robin Story (Robin Drama, Part II) (July 16, 2019)
Laura has been corresponding with a woman in Thunder Bay who has been watching her robins.
- Robin Drama: Part I (July 15, 2019)
A listener wrote to Laura about some robins terrorizing her family.
- Panama! (July 10, 2019)
Laura’s headed to Panama this week!
- Lee Guthrie's House Wren (July 8, 2019)
For the Birds listener Lee Guthrie had a question–why are House Wrens singing now that their young have fledged from the nest?Duration: 4′21″ Related blog post with transcript
- Birding for Health (June 27, 2019)
Enjoying birds can contribute to a long, healthy life; even when it doesn’t it improves our life during the time we have.Duration: 4′42″ Related blog post with transcript
- Feeding Jelly (June 25, 2019)
KAXE listener Florence Diane Stay asked Laura whether feeding jelly is okay for birds. Laura says no scientific studies have looked at this, but based on a lot of anecdotes, jelly seems perfectly fine to offer birds as long as it’s offered in small quantities. No scientific studies have investigated whether jelly with high fructose corn syrup is worse for birds than that made with sugar—Laura only buys jelly made with sugar.
- American Redstart on Peabody Street (June 24, 2019)
A year-old American Redstart is trying to attract a mate to his little territory in Laura’s backyard.
- The Warmth of Love (June 13, 2019)
Laura spent a happy day watching and photographing Piping Plover chicks and thinking about what warmth is all about. You can see photos of the chicks and their mother and father, along with a transcript, on her blog.
- Rare Warbler Hybrid (June 11, 2019)
When she was in Maine, Laura lucked into seeing and photographing a rare hybrid warbler, a cross between a Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler, but not one of the typical hybrids.
- Home! (June 10, 2019)
Laura spent three weeks on a road trip. Now she’s home, trying to process all her photos and, more importantly, her memories.Duration: 5′00″ Related blog post with transcript
- Hunkered Down at Spinney's (May 31, 2019)
If Laura had to be stuck indoors during a rainstorm in Maine, she found the right place.Duration: 4′27″ Related blog post with transcript
- Yellow-breasted Chat! (May 27, 2019)
Laura is missing migration in Duluth right now, but found a pretty interesting bird in Freeport, Maine.
- Spring Update (May 23, 2019)
Laura Is missing the cold, but keeping track of the birds showing up in north country.
- Indiana Dunes Birding Festival (May 21, 2019)
Laura has been missing the snow in northern Minnesota. She spent last weekend at the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival.Duration: 5′11″ Related blog post with transcript
- Distressing News for Birders with Hearing Loss (May 17, 2019)
One of Laura’s favorite possessions, the SongFinder device that helps her hear high-frequency sounds, has been discontinued.
- About that United Nations Extinction Report (May 15, 2019)
Laura wonders what we are prepared to do in the face of mountains of evidence that climate change is destroying the natural world.
- Warbler Day! (May 13, 2019)
Laura celebrates every May 11 as Warbler Day.
- Anhingas! (May 10, 2019)
When she was in Florida, Laura spent some quality time with Anhingas.
- Babies! (May 9, 2019)
Laura saw lots of baby birds down in Florida. (Photos of everything she mentions are on today’s blogpost.)Duration: 4′24″ Related blog post with transcript
- Black Vulture Madness (May 8, 2019)
Laura and Russ had some tricky interactions with Black Vultures in a parking lot in the Everglades, leaving Laura with a tangible souvenir.
- Book Review: Kenn Kaufman's A Season on the Wind (May 6, 2019)
Laura reviews Kenn Kaufman’s new book and talks about the famous Magee Marsh of northwestern Ohio.
- Turtle vs. Duckling (May 2, 2019)
Turtles eat ducklings, but when Laura got a video of a turtle attacking baby ducks in Florida, she saw a happy ending, at least for the baby duck.
- Sabria's Blue Jay (April 25, 2019)
Laura made a new friend who loves Blue Jays.Duration: 4′55″ Related blog post with transcript
- Sharp-tailed Grouse (April 23, 2019)
Laura went to Oulu, Wisconsin, last week to see a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek.
- New Glass Building in Duluth (April 22, 2019)
Laura wrote to Dr. Daniel Klem regarding plans for a proposed glass building in Duluth.
- The Anti-Woody Guthrie (April 10, 2019)
Are robins capable of artistic expression?
- Birding in the Tiniest State (April 5, 2019)
Laura spent a few days in the tiniest state in the union and was impressed with all its birds.
- Spring Update: March Madness (March 27, 2019)
On Monday, Laura took a walk on the Western Waterfront Trail to see a big match between Winter and Spring.Duration: 4′40″ Related blog post with transcript
- Spring Update: Eagles, Hawks, Magpies, and a Most Cooperative Robin (March 25, 2019)
Laura went to the Sax-Zim Bog on Saturday, where winter is starting to lose the battle against spring.
- Full Interview with Caroline Van Hemert (March 23, 2019)
Caroline Van Hemert talks to Laura about her book, *The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds.
- Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part 4: More Bird Stories (March 22, 2019)
Laura loved the vivid descriptions of birds in Caroline Van Hemert’s The Sun Is a Compass. In our final excerpt from Laura’s telephone conversation with her, Caroline tells of her encounter with baby geese along the Arctic Ocean.Duration: 4′18″ Related blog post with transcript
- Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part 3: Bird Stories (March 21, 2019)
On her 4,000-mile journey in Alaska, Caroline Van Hemert met up with an exceptionally rare species and also some vulnerable hawk chicks.Duration: 5′30″ Related blog post with transcript
- Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part 2: Planning and Packing for an Adventure (March 20, 2019)
Planning for a wilderness adventure in Alaska is far more complicated than going on a birding road trip.Duration: 4′43″ Related blog post with transcript
- Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part I: Where she went on her wilderness journey (March 19, 2019)
Today, The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds is being released by Little, Brown Sparks. Laura interviewed author Caroline Van Hemert by phone at the KUMD studio last week. In this segment, Caroline reads a bit from the Prologue and tells us exactly where she and her husband traveled on this epic adventure.Duration: 4′10″ Related blog post with transcript
- Book Review: The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert (March 18, 2019)
Laura fell truly, madly, deeply in love with a book coming out this week. This is her review of The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds, to be released tomorrow by Little, Brown Spark tomorrow.
- Glass Towers (March 13, 2019)
Duluth’s biggest healthcare provider, the one Laura has used for decades, is planning to build a tall glass tower to give them a state-of-the-art new facility. Laura hopes they use glass that is both fritted and with reduced light transmission, to protect birds.
- Cathy Zimmerman's Bobwhite (March 11, 2019)
Cathy Zimmerman wrote to Laura about her Best Bird Ever–a Common Bobwhite that turned up way, way north of where it belonged.Duration: 4′22″ Related blog post with transcript
- Birds in the News (March 8, 2019)
Birds are in the news, including Wisconsin’s prairie chickens, more acknowledgments that animals are smarter than we thought, and an intriguing play between an Osprey and a Bald Eagle above the outfield of a Jacksonville University baseball game.Duration: 4′47″ Related blog post with transcript
- Abnormal Plumage, Part II: Leucistic Birds (March 7, 2019)
An unusually pale chickadee is visiting Gayle Friday’s feeders.
- Abnormal Plumages, Part I: Bilateral Gynandromorphs (March 6, 2019)
What is a gynandromorph, and why is this suddenly in the news?
- Laura's Best Bird EVER! House Sparrow Lullabies (March 5, 2019)
Some of Laura’s most treasured childhood memories involve House Sparrows.Duration: 4′33″ Related blog post with transcript
- Chickadee Day! (March 4, 2019)
Laura celebrates March 2 every year as Chickadee Day.
- Laura's Best Bird EVER! Eye Contact with a Snowy Owl (March 1, 2019)
Laura’s lifer Snowy Owl was far more than a tick on a life list.
- The First Robin of Spring vs. the Last Robin of Winter (Feb. 28, 2019)
Robins are more complicated than most people realize.
- From the Archives: Great Horned Owl Drama (Feb. 27, 2019)
Laura unearthed a transcript from 2004 with a fun story about a Great Horned Owl, a murder of crows, and one spunky Blue Jay.
- Anticipation! (Feb. 26, 2019)
Laura’s suddenly hungry for hummingbirds.Duration: 4′19″ Related blog post with transcript
- The Onion closes the tragic case of a fastball pulverizing a Mourning Dove (Feb. 25, 2019)
Laura reminds us of the tragic 2001 case of a dove being hit by a Randy Johnson pitch and the final settlement, just last week, between the dove’s children and the Diamondbacks.
- Sad Endings and Joyful Beginnings (Feb. 18, 2019)
Today Laura talks about a beloved bird who died last month, and a wonderful chick who hatched this month.Duration: 4′28″ Related blog post with transcript
- 2019 Great Backyard Bird Count! (Feb. 15, 2019)
Today, February 15, marks the start of this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count. Laura explains how you can take part in this fun and rewarding annual tradition.
- Valentine's Day: Brown Eyed Owl (Feb. 14, 2019)
Laura celebrates Valentine’s Day this year thinking about Van Morrison and her very own brown-eyed owl.Duration: 4′15″ Related blog post with transcript
- Tom Cade: A Giant among Ornithologists (Feb. 13, 2019)
Today Laura remembers Dr. Tom Cade, founder of The Peregrine Fund, who passed away last week at the age of 91.
- Varied Thrush (Feb. 8, 2019)
Laura got to see a bird of the Pacific Northwest last weekend, just a few miles from her backyard in Duluth.
- Tips for Birding the Sax-Zim Bog (Feb. 7, 2019)
Laura gives some practical tips if you plan to come bird in northern Minnesota.
- Superb Owl Sunday 2019 (Feb. 6, 2019)
On Sunday, Laura had her best Superb Owl Sunday of them all.
- Superb Owl Sundays with Russ: A Little History (Feb. 5, 2019)
Laura has a longstanding tradition of searching for owls on the day other people are watching flying pigskins. But only three times has she spent the day owling with her husband. How did the first two go?Duration: 3′41″ Related blog post with transcript
- Silence Is Golden (Feb. 4, 2019)
Why is silence so hard to come by?
- Black-capped Chickadee Musings on a Frigid Day (Jan. 28, 2019)
Laura unearthed this transcript from a program from the 90s, and decided it was worth a second look.Duration: 3′45″ Related blog post with transcript
- Letter from Listener: Chelsea's Falling Turtle (Jan. 22, 2019)
A turtle falling from the sky? Laura hears from a listener that came upon this exact situation.
- The Googlable Laura (Jan. 21, 2019)
People find Laura’s webpage, blog, and Flickr photos via Google and even Wikipedia. Last week her blog was quoted in a Pennsylvania news story when some middle school children discovered what appears to be twin chicks after hatching eggs for a classroom project.Duration: 4′31″ Related blog post with transcript
- KAXE Listener Letter: Stephen Lorentz's Crow (Jan. 15, 2019)
KAXE listener Stephen Lorentz writes of watching a crow playing catch in the sky.
- The Crisis at Anzalduas Park (Jan. 14, 2019)
Laura spent a morning birding alone at Anzalduas Park in Texas, on the Rio Grande River along the Mexican border. She did indeed encounter a serious danger.
- Barred Owl in the News (Jan. 11, 2019)
A Barred Owl flying into a truck in Upstate New York made the news this week. Laura was interviewed for a news story.Duration: 5′26″ Related blog post with transcript
- Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ The Mexican Chickadee Who Took Pity on Me (Jan. 7, 2019)
Sometimes, when nothing seems to be going right, one little bird can save the day.
- First Bird of 2019 (Jan. 2, 2019)
Does our first bird of the year portend anything?
- The End of Mitigation (Dec. 30, 2019)