For the Birds Radio Program
Eagle "Rebirth" redux
(Dec. 30, 2020)
People are still promoting the myth that eagles can magically be reborn.
- 2020 Duluth Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 28, 2020)
Laura had to cut back her participation in this year’s Christmas Bird Count, but still had a splendid time in what turned out to be a record-breaking count on a few fronts.Duration: 5′27″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- Buying Binoculars (Dec. 18, 2020)
Laura doesn’t have recommendations about specific binocular brands or models, but does have some suggestions about what to look for.
- Bird Feeding Ideas (Dec. 16, 2020)
Laura has some reminders and suggestions about good bird feeding practices.
- Free Gifts for Bird Lovers (Dec. 14, 2020)
Laura has some ideas for free or very inexpensive gifts for bird lovers and for birds.
- Hanging Together (Dec. 11, 2020)
There aren’t as many backyard birds in December as we saw earlier this year. How do we get through these hard times?
- Centennial Celebration for a Spruce (Dec. 7, 2020)
One of Laura’s venerable trees has made it to a hundred. She’s just not quite sure when.
- The Value of One Individual Albatross (Dec. 4, 2020)
Laura was starting to get nervous when the US Fish and Wildlife Service hadn’t put out news about Wisdom, the 69-year-old albatross who nests on Midway Island. But she’s returned and laid an egg!
- The Desert Island Hypothetical (Nov. 30, 2020)
Laura has always answered that hypothetical question about what bird you’d want if you were stranded on a desert island the same way. If there were chickadees or Blue Jays about, she’d never be bored.
- Cats Indoors (Nov. 25, 2020)
One of the most important things we can do for birds is to keep cats indoors.
- Kasey (Nov. 24, 2020)
In 2006, Laura brought home a feral cat from Ohio. It worked out better than you might expect.
- A Finchy Fall (Nov. 23, 2020)
What birds are turning up on Peabody Street?
- An Auspicious Day? (Nov. 13, 2020)
Today is an appropriate day for Laura to talk about superstitions.Duration: 4′54″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- November Pleasures (Nov. 12, 2020)
What’s turning up on Peabody Street?
- Milestone Birthday (Nov. 11, 2020)
Laura’s birthday brings her thoughts of numbers and gallinules, and one unpleasant memory.Duration: 5′35″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- Superstitions about Owls, Part 2 (Nov. 10, 2020)
Laura talks about how to find owls, and why seeing one is lucky, not a sign of death.Duration: 5′21″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- Superstitions about Owls, Part I (Nov. 9, 2020)
Why are people so superstitious about owls?Duration: 4′16″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- Natural Predators and Death (Nov. 6, 2020)
How we use natural predators to symbolize death is extraordinarily inconsistent.Duration: 4′14″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- November Musings, Part 2 (Nov. 5, 2020)
Why do we think birds carry messages between heaven and earth?
- November Musings, Part 1 (Nov. 4, 2020)
November can be a miserable month, but Laura has two reasons to love it.Duration: 5′24″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- What Is Really "Killing All the Birds"? (Oct. 30, 2020)
Wind turbines kill plenty of birds, but our dependence on fossil fuels is killing orders of magnitude more birds.Duration: 6′33″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- BP Oil Spill Ten Years Later: Part 3 (Oct. 28, 2020)
Why didn’t non-profits do more to expose BP’s ways of minimizing their liability in 2010?Duration: 5′46″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- BP Oil Spill Ten Years Later: Part 2 (Oct. 27, 2020)
BP managed to change a rule to vastly understate the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on wildlife, when the oiled wildlife number is what determines an oil spill’s impact on wildlife.Duration: 5′53″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- BP Oil Spill, Ten Years Later: Part I (Oct. 26, 2020)
In July 2010, Laura went down to the Gulf for a few weeks during the BP oil spill. It was far worse than people were saying, and Laura is still outraged.
- October Snow! (Oct. 21, 2020)
Laura’s had a frustrating and a fun time watching birds in the October snow.
- Changing Appearance (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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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.
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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.Duration: 5′42″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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.Duration: 5′01″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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!
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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?Duration: 5′38″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- Bonus Thursday: Backyard Update (April 30, 2020)
Laura’s been photographing and recording her backyard birds.Duration: 4′31″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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.Duration: 4′53″ Related blog post with transcript Permalink
- 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 Permalink
- 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.
- 2020 Duluth Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 28, 2020)