For the Birds Radio Program: 1-year Anniversary of For the Birds

Original Air Date: May 13, 1987

What resources have made this radio program possible? (4:04) Date verified.

Audio missing


![Laura at KUMD] ( “Laura Producing ‘For the Birds’ at KUMD”)

Anniversary Program

(Recording of a Blue Jay)

Yesterday I celebrated an important milestone–“For the Birds” is now one year old. After doing 145 new programs, there are still over 150 Northland species that I haven’t mentioned yet–to say nothing of Ford Falcons and AMC Eagles. I haven’t discussed birds on TV commercials, like the Red-tailed Hawk that gives a Rough-legged Hawk call to sell Buick Skylarks; I’ve barely scratched the surface on the topic of sports teams named for birds; I haven’t even scientifically classified Snoopy’s friend Woodstock–all in all, it looks like the Northland’s only radio bird-watcher has miles to go before she sleeps.

Although birds themselves give me much of the inspiration and knowledge to produce “For the Birds,” this program wouldn’t be possible without the help of many others. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology provides the bird recordings. Their “Field Guide to Bird Songs” has practically every call I need–whether it’s a Blue Jay call to tease those wonderful Port Wing Blue Jay haters,

(Recording of a Blue Jay) an ethereal Winter Wren to capture our lovely, dark, and deep woods,

(Recording of a Winter Wren) or a Willow Ptarmigan just to show how silly a bird call can be.

(Recording of a Willow Ptarmigan)

Kim Eckert, the most active, knowledgeable birder in Minnesota, runs a hotline which keeps me informed about local birds even when I’m busy watching Disney movies with my children. The questions Joey and Katie ask have inspired many programs, and Tommy’s exuberant joy about every living thing keeps even grackles and starlings beautiful.

My husband isn’t a birder, and yet he’s the one who gave me my first field guide and put up with the orphaned Blue Jay that stained all our dining room chairs. After 15 years, he still tolerates my running out in the middle of dinner to chase down a rarity and my staying up late after the kids are asleep to write these scripts, even though we both know I’ll be out-of-sorts in the morning. He makes it easy for me to understand the steadfast devotion of a pair of Canada Geese or swans.

I draw on many sources for information. John K. Terres’s wonderful Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds is invaluable. So are the Life Histories of Birds of North America by Arthur Cleveland Bent, and Earnest Choate’s American Bird Names. Ornithology textbooks are a wonderful source of information like how a chickadee’s heart beats 500 times a minute at rest, but goes up to 1000 during activity. The American Ornithologists’ Union, Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union, and Wisconsin Society for Ornithology have been very helpful. Then of course there are my old favorites–William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Mark Twain, and Odgen Nash–who all watched birds at least a bit.

Listeners who keep me up to date on the birds that interest them from Cornucopia to Meadowlands are especially appreciated. And I’m very grateful to KAXE for airing For the Birds in Grand Rapids.

When I walked into KUMD and asked if I could produce a program about birds, I had never even seen an open reel tape recorder. Jean Johnson patiently taught me how to work in the production room. I don’t know if there is any other place where a birder off the streets would be given the freedom to mix bird calls with poetry and Walt Disney and old Simon and Garfunkel records to make this little program “For the Birds.”

(Recording of a Blue Jay)