For the Birds Radio Program: Informal Poll Results

Original Air Date: June 23, 1986

Some of Laura’s listeners wrote to her about their favorite birds. (date confirmed)

Duration: 3′44″


How many birds do you suppose can be found in the Duluth area? Twenty? A hundred? Two hundred?

Believe it or not, 338 species have been recorded in St. Louis County by the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union. Kim Eckert, who holds the individual record, has seen 301. But his list includes birds like the Yellow-billed Loon, an Alaskan species that was seen in the Midwest only once, and the Wilson’s Plover, a bird belonging on the Atlantic Coast, which showed up at Park Point one fall. Even without rarities like this, it isn’t difficult to see 200 species right in Duluth in any given year. Over a hundred species breed here every summer.

What’s the prettiest bird in Duluth? That depends on whom you ask. In a very informal poll taken last week, one Duluthian claimed the chickadee is the prettiest, two said the oriole, one voted for the blue jay, and one for the hummingbird.

How about the ugliest bird in Duluth? Two people said the starling–their feathers look oily like they’re sweating on hot summer days, and I guess some people find a sweaty-looking bird unappealing. One person said the House Sparrow was uglier. And one man insisted that the Turkey Vulture is incomparably ugly.

Several people agreed that the prettiest bird song belongs to the Winter Wren:

(Recording of a Winter Wren)

But the Oriole’s song was the favorite of another:

(Recording of a Northern Oriole)

The White-throated Sparrow got another’s vote:

(Recording of a White-throated Sparrow)

Somebody thought the cowbird’s mating call was surely the ugliest bird song. However, several people disagreed–the cowbird sounds pretty to them.

(Recording of a Brown-headed Cowbird)

Some thought the crow’s voice was the ugliest of all:

(Recording of a Common Crow)

The most bizarre bird call? The American Bittern was one everybody agreed on.

(Recording of an American Bittern)

What’s your favorite bird? One man cited the Great Blue Heron. One woman said the robin, because robins bring back the springtime.

(Recording of a Robin)

The Blue Jay was favored by one maverick, but most people voted it down as a jeering baby-killer. The Black-capped Chickadee has many admirers–as one Duluthian said, it’s always here, even when it’s forty below, and it’s always happy.

(Recording of a Black-capped Chickadee)

If you think a particular bird is the prettiest, or the ugliest, or the most bizarre, or your favorite, drop us a line and tell us why. Write “For the Birds” at KUMD, University of Minnesota, Duluth, Minnesota, 55811.

This is Laura Erickson, and this program has been “For the Birds.”