Laura Erickson

Laura Erickson's For the Birds

For the love, understanding, and protection of birds.
Laura Erickson's For the Birds


"For the Birds" began airing on KUMD in Duluth, MN, in May, 1986, and is the longest continually-running radio program about birds in the U.S. Hundreds more episodes are available for free at



About that United Nations Extinction Report

May 15, 2019 5:29


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 5:05


Laura celebrates every May 11 as Warbler Day.


May 10, 2019 4:57


When she was in Florida, Laura spent some quality time with Anhingas.


May 9, 2019 4:24


Laura saw lots of baby birds down in Florida. (Photos of everything she mentions are on today's blogpost.)

Black Vulture Madness

May 8, 2019 5:15


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 5:15


Laura reviews Kenn Kaufman's new book and talks about the famous Magee Marsh of northwestern Ohio.

Turtle vs. Duckling

May 2, 2019 4:48


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

Apr 25, 2019 4:55


Laura made a new friend who loves Blue Jays.

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Apr 23, 2019 4:37


Laura went to Oulu, Wisconsin, last week to see a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek.

New Glass Building in Duluth

Apr 22, 2019 5:03


Laura wrote to Dr. Daniel Klem regarding plans for a proposed glass building in Duluth.

The Anti-Woody Guthrie

Apr 10, 2019 4:49


Are robins capable of artistic expression?

Birding in the Tiniest State

Apr 5, 2019 4:48


Laura spent a few days in the tiniest state in the union and was impressed with all its birds.

Spring Update: March Madness

Mar 27, 2019 4:40


On Monday, Laura took a walk on the Western Waterfront Trail to see a big match between Winter and Spring.

Spring Update: Eagles, Hawks, Magpies, and a Most Cooperative Robin

Mar 25, 2019 5:02


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

Mar 23, 2019 35:18


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

Mar 22, 2019 4:18


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.

Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part 3: Bird Stories

Mar 21, 2019 5:30


On her 4,000-mile journey in Alaska, Caroline Van Hemert met up with an exceptionally rare species and also some vulnerable hawk chicks.

Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part 2: Planning and Packing for an Adventure

Mar 20, 2019 4:43


Planning for a wilderness adventure in Alaska is far more complicated than going on a birding road trip.

Conversation with Caroline Van Hemert, Part I: Where she went on her wilderness journey

Mar 19, 2019 4:10


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.

Book Review: The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert

Mar 18, 2019 5:06


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.

BONUS Podcast Episode: Interview with Caroline Van Hemert

Mar 16, 2019 38:57


Laura has completely fallen in love with a brand new book, *The Sun Is a Compass: A 4,000-Mile Journey into the Alaskan Wilds*, by Caroline Van Hemert. On Thursday, Laura interviewed the author by phone. The conversation is much too long for a single "For the Birds" radio broadcast. It will be excerpted throughout the coming week, but you can hear the whole thing here.

Glass Towers

Mar 13, 2019 5:01


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

Mar 11, 2019 4:22


Cathy Zimmerman wrote to Laura about her Best Bird Ever--a Common Bobwhite that turned up way, way north of where it belonged.

Birds in the News

Mar 8, 2019 4:47


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.

Abnormal Plumage, Part II: Leucistic Birds

Mar 7, 2019 5:03


An unusually pale chickadee is visiting Gayle Friday's feeders.

Abnormal Plumages, Part I: Bilateral Gynandromorphs

Mar 6, 2019 5:08


What is a gynandromorph, and why is this suddenly in the news?

Laura's Best Bird EVER! House Sparrow Lullabies

Mar 5, 2019 4:33


Some of Laura's most treasured childhood memories involve House Sparrows.

Chickadee Day!

Mar 4, 2019 5:03


Laura celebrates March 2 every year as Chickadee Day.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Eye Contact with a Snowy Owl

Mar 1, 2019 4:37


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 5:12


Robins are more complicated than most people realize.

From the Archives: Great Horned Owl Drama

Feb 27, 2019 4:37


Laura unearthed a transcript from 2004 with a fun story about a Great Horned Owl, a murder of crows, and one spunky Blue Jay.


Feb 26, 2019 4:19


Laura's suddenly hungry for hummingbirds.

The Onion's closes the tragic case of a fastball pulverizing a Mourning Dove

Feb 25, 2019 5:10


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 4:28


Today Laura talks about a beloved bird who died last month, and a wonderful chick who hatched this month.

2019 Great Backyard Bird Count!

Feb 15, 2019 4:51


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 4:15


Laura celebrates Valentine's Day this year thinking about Van Morrison and her very own brown-eyed owl.

Tom Cade: A Giant among Ornithologists

Feb 13, 2019 5:09


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 5:29


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 5:15


Laura gives some practical tips if you plan to come bird in northern Minnesota.

Superb Owl Sunday 2019

Feb 6, 2019 5:04


On Sunday, Laura had her best Superb Owl Sunday of them all.

Superb Owl Sundays with Russ: A Little History

Feb 5, 2019 3:41


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?

Silence Is Golden

Feb 4, 2019 5:04


Why is silence so hard to come by?

Black-capped Chickadee Musings on a Frigid Day

Jan 28, 2019 3:45


Laura unearthed this transcript from a program from the 90s, and decided it was worth a second look.

Letter from Listener: Chelsea's Falling Turtle

Jan 22, 2019 4:49


A turtle falling from the sky? Laura hears from a listener that came upon this exact situation.

The Googlable Laura

Jan 21, 2019 4:31


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.

KAXE Listener Letter: Stephen Lorentz's Crow

Jan 15, 2019 4:57


KAXE listener Stephen Lorentz writes of watching a crow playing catch in the sky.

The Crisis at Anzalduas Park

Jan 14, 2019 5:02


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 5:26


A Barred Owl flying into a truck in Upstate New York made the news this week. Laura was interviewed for a news story.

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ The Mexican Chickadee Who Took Pity on Me

Jan 7, 2019 5:02


Sometimes, when nothing seems to be going right, one little bird can save the day.

First Bird of 2019

Jan 2, 2019 5:01


Does our first bird of the year portend anything?

Federal Workers Are FOR the Birds

Jan 1, 2019 6:49


Jobs we do out of passion include some of the most important jobs of all, protecting birds as well as people.

Tufted Duck in Duluth!

Dec 19, 2018 4:37


Last week a Tufted Duck showed up in Canal Park in Duluth, and it stuck around for the Christmas Bird Count. The question now is whether the Minnesota Ornithologists' Union's Records Committee will call it "countable" or not.


Dec 12, 2018 4:58


Rats are suddenly appearing on Peabody Street.

Helen Erickson, 1919-2018

Dec 10, 2018 8:12


On Saturday, Laura's mother-in-law, who gave Laura her first pair of binoculars, passed away.

Return of the Pileated Woodpecker

Dec 4, 2018 5:21


Laura's female Pileated Woodpecker, the one attacked by a Sharp-shinned Hawk last week, returned on Saturday, much to the relief of a lot of people.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Raven with a Gift from Above

Nov 30, 2018 4:59


Laura's long ago close encounter with a raven still leaves her gobsmacked.

Drama on Peabody Street

Nov 29, 2018 5:11


When a hawk started attacking Laura's female Pileated Woodpecker, Laura took sides.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Yesterday's Pileated Woodpecker

Nov 20, 2018 5:28


Pileated Woodpeckers have featured in several of "Laura's Best Bird EVER!" accounts. And just yesterday a new one made the cut. If you're playing this on the air, tell listeners that all the photos mentioned are shown on [today's blog post](

Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Brita and Odin, and Their Mom, Sarah

Nov 16, 2018 4:34


Laura has been corresponding with a longstanding listener, hearing about her delightful bird-appreciating children.

Pine Grosbeak: My Once-Upon-a-Dream Bird

Nov 15, 2018 4:44


For one brief, shining moment, a wild bird made Laura Erickson feel like she was in the middle of a Disney fairy tale.

Disney's Sleeping Beauty and a Real-Life Owl

Nov 14, 2018 4:57


Laura loved Walt Disney's *Sleeping Beauty* as a child, but real life is better than even the prettiest fairy tale.

In My Prime

Nov 12, 2018 4:42


What's so special about being 67? And is the answer the same if you're a human rather than an albatross?


Nov 8, 2018 5:01


Birdlife is changing in Laura's yard, and suddenly there's a goshawk hanging around.

Mandarin Duck in the Big Apple

Nov 5, 2018 5:29


Laura is thrilled about a Mandarin Duck that appeared last month in New York City and is still swimming in the Pond in Central Park.

Acting for our children's future (Political content)

Oct 30, 2018 5:18


When our country is facing environmental and social disasters, Laura always thinks of Mr. Rogers. Today she's also thinking about Captain Sully Sullenberger and the meaning of leadership. This radio program includes political content. If listeners object, I would love to hear exactly what their specific arguments are. To sin by silence when one should speak makes cowards of men, and now is a time when we should be standing together and speaking up. The linked blog post is considerably longer.

Lark Bunting in Duluth

Oct 26, 2018 4:35


Laura saw a cool vagrant this week, a Lark Bunting.

Gone with the Wind

Oct 23, 2018 4:15


Laura's Yellow-rumped Warblers have finally departed, leaving her wondering how their migration timing relates to leaf color changes and when leaves fall from the trees.

Yellow-rumped Warblers

Oct 18, 2018 4:34


Laura was still getting lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers in her yard and at her feeders as late as October 17!

Drunken Birds: Final Recap

Oct 11, 2018 5:09


Since last she mentioned drunken birds last week, Laura has been interviewed by CNN and *The New York Times.* She's hoping this will be the end of the story.

How Lisa Found Childlike Delight through Photography

Oct 9, 2018 5:06


Laura's friend Lisa Johnson of KUMD had to respond to a recent For the Birds.

Sober Up!

Oct 5, 2018 5:09


A billion birds die in window collisions every year, and a great many are killed by cars, especially during migration. Now suddenly people are blaming bird deaths on their own drunkenness, which is a grave disservice based on misinformation.

Not So Very Drunk

Oct 4, 2018 4:40


Laura hates when reporters want one angle on a story and don't let go in the face of facts. Especially when they stick her name on the story. Are people really seeing drunken birds in northern Minnesota this week?

Live from KUMD

Oct 1, 2018 6:14


Lisa Johnson interviewed Laura about migration today. All Laura's "um"s will make it clear why her podcasts are usually scripted.

Charles M. Schulz Museum Writes to Laura about Woodstock!

Sep 26, 2018 5:03


Laura got an unexpected letter yesterday about a letter exchange she'd had with Charles Schulz in the 1990s.

Susan's Favorite Bird: Carolina Wren

Sep 12, 2018 4:37


Laura's good friend Susan Eaton shared her favorite bird, the Carolina Wren.

How Are This Year's Fires Affecting Nighthawks?

Sep 3, 2018 6:19


When listener Will Bomier asked Laura how this year's fires are affecting Common Nighthawks, she started looking into it.

Fiftieth Anniversary!

Aug 30, 2018 4:24


Laura started dating her husband Russ exactly 50 years ago today, making her think of geese, albatrosses, and warblers.

Book Review: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

Aug 27, 2018 5:26


Laura gives this book her highest rating.

Bird Photography

Aug 16, 2018 5:08


Laura has a few hints for people who love watching birds and want to take some pictures of them.

Of Weddings and Baseball

Aug 13, 2018 5:11


Laura took time off to help her daughter get married and to watch Cubs rookie David Bote hit a walk-off grand slam home run.

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ Le Conte's Sparrow: the Tiny Ahab

Jul 11, 2018 5:08


Laura's first look at a bird being banded called to her mind a great American classic.

Across the Universe

Jul 10, 2018 5:08


Is there intelligent life "out there"? Laura says not to feel alone; notice the intelligent life right here on Planet Earth.

Listener Favorite: Amelia's Cardinal

Jun 29, 2018 5:12


One of Laura's listeners loves whistling back and forth with the young cardinals in her backyard. Can this teach them the wrong songs?

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ Geppetto, Part 2

Jun 28, 2018 4:22


Laura picks up the story of Geppetto as she and her kids brought him to Camp Du Nord to release him.

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ Geppetto, Part I

Jun 27, 2018 3:53


In 1998, Laura and her kids rehabilitated a baby Pileated Woodpecker.

June Hike

Jun 25, 2018 5:02


Laura was a leader on a hike along the Superior Hiking Trail this weekend, and heard lots of cool birds.

A History of the Boundary Waters

Jun 22, 2018 5:24


Laura talks about this history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area. This program doesn't have the announcement of events tomorrow in Grand Marais.

For the Babies (Strong political viewpoint expressed)

Jun 20, 2018 4:49


Laura's backyard vireos fought off a menace to their nestlings yesterday, making Laura think of how most of us feel a visceral empathy toward babies in distress, distinguishing empathetic human beings from sociopaths.

For the Babies

Jun 20, 2018 4:49


Laura's backyard vireos fought off a menace to their nestlings yesterday, making Laura think of how most of us feel a visceral empathy toward babies in distress, distinguishing empathetic human beings from sociopaths.

Gypsy Moth Spraying

Jun 19, 2018 5:51


Laura woke to hear lovely birds, and then an airplane mission-bound to kill their food.

A Week on Hog Island

Jun 15, 2018 4:49


Laura spent last week in Maine as an instructor in Audubon's Joy of Birding Class on Hog Island.

Koni Sundquist

Jun 11, 2018 6:01


Koni Sundquist, who died May 31, was Laura's treasured friend, ally, and mentor.

Declining Birth Rate

Jun 8, 2018 4:43


The birth rate in the United States is falling, but contrary to media reports, this is good news.

Listener Favorite: Robyn's Saw-whet Owl

Jun 6, 2018 4:46


Robyn Schroeder sent Laura a letter about her favorite bird.

The Giving Tree

Jun 4, 2018 4:24


Laura's wonderful old box elder next to her office window gave her a special treat last week.

Individuals vs Populations

Jun 1, 2018 4:54


As extremely important as protecting populations is, there's value in protecting individuals, too, and the goals are not incompatible.

The Life and Death of a Great Gray Owl

May 31, 2018 4:58


A listener named Mike writes about a tragic loss.

Google Supports Cat Colonies over Owls

May 30, 2018 4:24


Google's employees have built cat feeding stations in Shoreline Park, an important wildlife area adjacent to the Googleplex. Burrowing Owls are paying the price.

Biggest Week in American Birding

May 28, 2018 4:45


Every May, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in northwestern Ohio puts together an amazing birding festival right when warblers are everywhere. Laura attended this year.

Eastern Towhee's Got a Name

May 25, 2018 4:35


Thanks to an Eastern Towhee showing up in her yard this week that both Laura and her son Tom heard, Laura finally has a mnemonic for the bird's song: It's singing its own name!

T.W.'s Best Bird: Red-winged Blackbird

May 23, 2018 5:14


This week, Laura heard from two listeners, four-and-a-half-year-old T.W. and his mother Ann.

The Creepiness Factor of Birdwatching

May 22, 2018 5:08


Apparently many Americans find birders creepy.

Summer Tanager in Duluth!

May 17, 2018 5:07


A not-quite-year-old Summer Tanager turned up in Duluth on Sunday, and Laura headed straight to Alison Clarke's house to see it.

LBBE Buff-breasted Sandpiper

May 11, 2018 5:08


Sometimes birds help us get through the hardest times of our lives.

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ Buff-breasted Sandpiper

May 11, 2018 5:08


Sometimes birds help us get through the hardest times of our lives.

Visit to Florida

May 8, 2018 5:18


Laura and Russ spent a week in Florida, where Laura spent a lot of time recording birds and listening to a colony of wading birds, including Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks.

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! ™ First Pileated Woodpecker

May 3, 2018 4:57


Laura's first Pileated Woodpecker was her best bird EVER!

Basal Cell Carcinomas: An Occupational Hazard of Birding

May 2, 2018 4:56


Laura just had the Mohs procedure to remove a bit of cancer on her face. Now she's good to go for another year or two.

Listener Favorite: Steve Dahlberg's Great Blue Heron

May 1, 2018 4:34


One of Laura's listeners on KAXE reminded her about the best of Great Blue Herons.

Spring Update

Apr 30, 2018 4:52


Spring birds are starting to trickle in where Laura lives; they're arriving much sooner to the south of her. She loves the predictable unpredictability of spring.

Visiting Port Wing's South Shore School

Apr 25, 2018 4:21


Laura visited some wonderful kids in Port Wing, Wisconsin, last week.

Visiting Northern Wisconsin

Apr 24, 2018 5:08


Laura had a speaking event in Ashland last week to support the Friends of the North Pikes Creek Wetlands, and then had a wonderful encounter with a bobcat in another wetlands.

Listener Favorite: American Bittern

Apr 23, 2018 5:07


A caller told Laura about a couple of fun encounters with American Bitterns.

Listener Favorite: Val's Great Crested Flycatcher

Apr 20, 2018 3:38


One of Laura's friends sent her an email about her first encounters with a Great Crested Flycatcher.

Listener Favorites: Paul Peterson's Winter Wren with a poem by John Bates

Apr 19, 2018 4:18


Paul Peterson said his favorite bird is the Winter Wren, and Laura reads a John Bates poem about this bird's splendid song.

Dangerously Cold Weather

Apr 18, 2018 4:54


Birds are having a lot of trouble with this serious cold snap. How can we help?

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Chapter 8. Five-striped Sparrow

Apr 12, 2018 5:11


Some of the birds Laura calls her "Best Bird EVER!" are common, everyday species. But not this one.

Listener's Favorite Birds #6: Mike's Loon

Apr 10, 2018 5:05


Mike Elliott considers the loon his Spirit Bird, especially after a close encounter of the magical kind.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Chapter 7. White Tern

Apr 9, 2018 5:06


Sometimes, getting pooped upon by a bird can be a good thing, at least for one person we know.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Chapter 6. Tommy's Bohemian Waxwing

Apr 5, 2018 3:58


A Bohemian Waxwing that came to visit when Laura's son Tom was 2 years old was her Best Bird EVER!

Hiking vs. Sauntering vs. Moseying

Apr 3, 2018 4:59


Laura takes a rambling jaunt through the dictionary, considering various styles of walking.

Listener's Favorite Birds #5: Paula's Timberdoodle

Apr 2, 2018 4:56


Laura's friend Paula called KUMD to tell us about her favorite early spring bird: the timberdoodle, also known as the American Woodcock.

Blue Jays Are Here to Stay

Mar 30, 2018 5:03


Saturday marks the end of National Blue Jay Month; we won't be celebrating another one until October 2020. We may not think about Blue Jays often, but long after we're gone, Laura Erickson and the California Ravens think Blue Jays will be here to stay.

Architects and Birds

Mar 29, 2018 4:53


Laura talks about how much architects have to learn to make the windows on their buildings safer for birds.

Listener's Favorite Birds #4: Erik's Gyrfalcon

Mar 23, 2018 4:50


The Gyrfalcon is Erik's favorite bird.

Meg's Question: When do Canada Geese molt?

Mar 22, 2018 5:01


Laura loves answering questions, including a new one about goose molting.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Chapter 5. Katie's Boo Jays

Mar 21, 2018 4:30


When Laura's daughter Katie was just learning to stand up, she helped Laura see blue jays with new eyes.

Letter from Listener: Becca's Great Gray Owl

Mar 20, 2018 4:27


Becca Mulenburg wrote Laura about an exciting encounter with a Great Gray Owl.

Birds in the News

Mar 19, 2018 4:45


Puffins, Penguins, Penguin Poop, and More!

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! Chapter 4. Baby Joey and the Las Vegas Great-tailed Grackles

Mar 16, 2018 4:58


In her continuing series, Laura talks about why a Great-tailed Grackle flock in Las Vegas became her Best Birds EVER!

Daniel Klem coming to Minnesota to speak about the Vikings Stadium

Mar 15, 2018 4:49


The man who did the seminal work on collisions between birds and glass is coming to the Twin Cities next week to speak about ways the US Bank Stadium where the Vikings play can be retrofitted to make it safer for birds.

Listeners' Favorite Birds #3: Gretchen and Dahlaihuu's Towhee

Mar 14, 2018 4:58


One of Laura's listeners called in about her 11-year-old son's favorite bird.

A Trip to the Bog

Mar 13, 2018 5:17


Laura and her friend Erik took a trip to the Sax-Zim Bog, focusing mostly on Evening Grosbeaks and Black-backed Woodpeckers.

Laura’s Best Bird EVER! Chapter 3. Ludwig the Blue Jay

Mar 12, 2018 5:08


Laura's Best Bird EVER was a little Blue Jay named Ludwig.

Listener's Favorite Birds #2: Jim Baker's Blue Jay

Mar 9, 2018 4:35


An old friend of For the Birds (and our fictitious underwriter) gives his two cents worth about his favorite bird, and Laura searches for cutting edge news stories about Blue Jays.

Apple's Windows

Mar 8, 2018 4:13


Birds aren't the only ones who collide into glass.

Listener's Favorite Birds #1: Lisa's Gray Jay

Mar 7, 2018 5:09


With this program, Laura inaugurates a new feature on For the Birds. Listeners can submit a brief recording or voicemail telling us what their favorite bird is, and Laura will blather on, giving more informaiton about it.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Chapter 2. Black-capped Chickadee

Mar 2, 2018 5:04


March 2 is the anniversary of Laura seeing her Best Bird EVER!, a Black-capped Chickadee.

Laura's Best Bird EVER! Chapter 1. Blue Jay

Mar 1, 2018 5:05


When Laura was 7 years old, she saw a Blue Jay for the first time. That was her Best Bird EVER! She's seen many more Best Birds EVER! since then. What makes any bird a Best Bird EVER?

Of Lifer Owls and Extraordinary Sporting Wins

Feb 27, 2018 5:06


Laura's friend Susan and Laura's birding dog Pip saw two great owls for the first time ever last Monday. Pip had more owl luck all week, and on Saturday, the day the USA Men's Curling Team won their Gold Medal, Pip saw a Boreal Owl--the same species she saw the night the Cubs won the World Series. Coincidence?

Get a Grip!

Feb 21, 2018 4:41


Laura got an up-close-and-personal look at a Ruffed Grouse that shows exactly how this splendid bird can get a grip, even on icy branches.

Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival and Great Backyard Bird Count

Feb 16, 2018 5:00


This weekend is a big one for Laura.

Superb Owl Sunday 2018; Massive Bad Karma

Feb 7, 2018 5:01


Laura and Lisa got skunked on seeing any owls on this Superb Owl Sunday. Laura thinks it's because of a massive owl tragedy earlier in the week.

Save Birds at YOUR Windows! Interview with Jeff Acopian

Feb 2, 2018 5:15


Unlike the Minnesota Vikings, most of us don't have a billion-dollar budget, subsidized by public funding, for home improvements if our windows are killing birds. Jeff Acopian came up with an inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing yet extremely effective solution: Acopian BirdSavers, nicknamed Zen Wind Curtains. Laura interviewed Jeff this week. Christopher Harwood did the engineering at the KUMD studio to make the phone interview possible.

The Minnesota Vikings' Curse of the Bird-Killing Glass

Feb 1, 2018 5:11


As a lifelong Cubs fan, Laura knows all about curses. She

Where are all the birds?

Jan 31, 2018 5:08


People have been asking Laura where the birds are this winter. They're not in her yard.

Once in a Blue Moon

Jan 30, 2018 5:14


Tonight's full moon is more than a Blue Moon. But will Blue Jays even notice?

Our Far Flung Correspondents: Owls and Fences

Jan 26, 2018 5:01


David Bartlam came upon a dead Great Horned Owl in Proctor, Minnesota: yet another tragedy caused by a fence.

Helen Turns 99!

Jan 24, 2018 5:05


Laura's mother-in-law, who gave her her first pair of binoculars, is 99 years old today.


Jan 23, 2018 4:28


There are more owls hanging around the Northland than one might expect during National Blue Jay Awareness Month.

Savoring Birds with Friends

Jan 19, 2018 4:56


Laura got to spend a day birding with three friends, reminding her of her days in Madison, Wisconsin.

Of Sh*tholes and Shriveled Souls

Jan 16, 2018 5:16


Laura voices her fury with a man who could use an ugly obscenity to refer to places on this planet where our fellow human beings and fellow creatures live.

Our Far Flung Correspondents: Mealworms and Water in Winter

Jan 8, 2018 4:46


Are freeze-dried mealworms as nutritious as fresh ones? And should we be using heated bird baths during excessively cold days in winter?

The Pathological Moseyer Gets a Desk Treadmill

Jan 5, 2018 4:56


In what way does Laura identify with Canada Geese?

Wisdom the Albatross is 67 years old--or even older!

Jan 2, 2018 4:55


Good news about Wisdom, the oldest known wild bird in the world. And, because it's National Blue Jay Awareness Month, we have some information on the Blue Jay longevity scene, too.

National Blue Jay Awareness Month

Jan 1, 2018 5:10


Today's full moon, and a second one at the end of the month, make this National Blue Jay Awareness Month. Do the Blue Jays even care?

A Visit to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Dec 22, 2017 4:57


Laura's in New York City for the week, but she needed to spend at least some time birding, so she took the A Train to Jamaica Bay.

Book Review: Birds in a Cage

Dec 7, 2017 4:51


Four British soldiers taken prisoner of war in World War II spent much of their time studying birds they could observe in their imprisonment. Derek Niemann wrote an important book about their ordeals and how their focus on birds helped them endure.

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

Dec 6, 2017 5:09


Why do so many authors of books about war use birds as metaphors? Laura talks about an old novel about World War II, *Slaughterhouse-Five*, and one from 2015, *All the Light We Cannot See*, which she considers one of the finest books ever written.

Passport to Adventure, Part II

Dec 5, 2017 4:39


Laura strongly recommends Kenn Kaufman's *Kaufman Field Guide to Nature in the Midwest*.

Passport to Adventure, Part I

Dec 4, 2017 5:04


A field guide can give you the names of the birds you see, but it's ever so much more.

Mokka the Alakef Snowy Owl

Dec 1, 2017 6:01


Snowy Owls don't often seem attracted to coffee roasters, but when they are...

Our Far-Flung Correspondents

Nov 29, 2017 4:29


On Thanksgiving, Laura received two letters from listeners. Laura is most grateful.

Cardinal Feeding Goldfish

Nov 27, 2017 4:40


National Geographic is linking to a YouTube video from 2010 showing a cardinal feeding a goldfish. Oddly enough, half a century ago, at least one National Geographic book displayed a black-and-white photo of the same odd behavior.

A November Awakening

Nov 21, 2017 4:50


Sunrise in November is a fine time to be awake.

Swan Hunting in Minnesota?

Nov 20, 2017 5:40


Laura thinks the word nongame means nongame. Does it?

Minnesota's Breeding Bird Atlas: Some Species Accounts

Nov 16, 2017 5:37


Laura talks about Minnesota's new Breeding Bird Atlas and the information it includes about some interesting species.

Minnesota's Breeding Bird Atlas

Nov 15, 2017 5:04


Minnesota has just completed a project begun in 2009 of atlasing all the breeding birds in the state.

Frankie the Saw-whet Owl

Nov 14, 2017 5:05


An owl banded in St. Louis County just appeared in another St. Louis County.

Our Far-Flung Correspondents

Nov 6, 2017 4:39


Laura reads some letters and comments from listeners.

Bogus Video: Rebirth of an Eagle

Nov 1, 2017 4:56


A horrifyingly untrue online video claims that eagles can choose to undergo a bizarre metamorphosis.

Population Growth: Excerpted from The Moth Snowstorm

Oct 31, 2017 6:21


Laura reads from Michael McCarthy's wonderful book, *The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy*.

Henry and Eden's Warbler

Oct 25, 2017 4:51


How two little kids saved the life of a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Book Review: The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy

Oct 24, 2017 5:10


Laura reviews a book that she considers as well researched, passionate, and important as Rachel Carson's *Silent Spring*.

Insect Armageddon

Oct 23, 2017 4:48


Last week a new paper was published about the devastating declines in insects since the 1960s.

Gus's Cat Video

Oct 19, 2017 5:05


A Brooklyn birder named Gus took a video of a cat killing and devouring a Golden-crowned Kinglet. At first, it felt like he was making a nature documentary, but he ended up feeling sad and bereft.


Oct 12, 2017 4:56


Laura apologizes for referring to ceremonial regalia with a fundamentally disrespectful word.

Birding in the Postseason

Oct 10, 2017 4:54


How can birding be compatible with being a Cubs fan?

Smith's Longspur

Oct 9, 2017 4:46


When a Smith's Longspur turned up in Two Harbors and then in Duluth, Laura did her best to see it.

Human Social Evolution

Oct 6, 2017 5:15


E.O. Wilson believes humans today have a Star Wars civilization with Stone Age emotions and Medieval institutions, and that we're trapped by the duality of our primate ancestors, chimpanzees and bonobos. Laura thinks we could do better to pay more attention to chickadees.


Oct 3, 2017 5:17


What makes a moment different from a second or a minute?

Hurricane Update

Oct 2, 2017 4:28


This year's hurricanes have had a devastating effect on birds as well as humans.

Hawk Ridge Update

Sep 28, 2017 4:40


Laura spent an hour and a half at Hawk Ridge yesterday, seeing lots of wonderful birds.

Woodson Museum's Birds in Art

Sep 27, 2017 5:03


Laura and Russ went to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum this weekend to see the annual Birds in Art exhibit. Laura gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Adopt a Barn Cat Follow Up

Sep 19, 2017 5:03


Animal Allies responded to some of Laura Erickson's concerns about their Adopt a Barn Cat program.

A Visit to the Field Museum of Natural History

Sep 18, 2017 4:55


This program originally aired when Laura's children were young and her family went "birding" to see Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and other extinct species at the Field Museum of Natural History, back in 2000. In 2017, Laura is most distressed that this program displays her utter ignorance about an important issue. In reference to the ceremonial regalia worn by First Nations, she used the word "costumes," a disrespectful term that trivializes important cultural garb in the same way that it would be disrespectful to refer to a Catholic priest's vestments or a nurse's or firefighter's working clothing as a costume. This trivializes important garb as if the wearer is play acting or pretending to be something else, like a child wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume for Halloween. The overall content of the program has some value, but Laura is mortified that she was so insensitive.

Adopt a Barn Cat? Just Say NO!

Sep 15, 2017 5:23


Duluth's Animal Allies is trying to adopt out feral cats to roam free near warm barns and sheds. This is terrible for birds, other wildlife, and human beings.

Now Is the Time to Talk about Climate Change, and to Act.

Sep 11, 2017 6:59


Fires out West, flooding and toxins in Houston, and Hurricane Irma--this time of crisis is exactly when we need to talk about climate change.

Now Is the Time to Talk about Climate Change, and to Act. (Political content that distressed a KUMD listener)

Sep 11, 2017 6:59


Fires out West, flooding and toxins in Houston, and Hurricane Irma--this time of crisis is exactly when we need to talk about climate change.

The Zen Driver

Sep 6, 2017 5:06


"Drive at the slowest speed that is safe, courteous, and convenient." is [Number 60 on Laura's Ways to Help Birds]( This is easy to do when you're the Zen Driver.

Hurricane Harvey

Sep 5, 2017 4:57


How has Hurricane Harvey affected wildlife?

Long Ago and Not Too Far Away

Aug 29, 2017 4:26


How did Laura end up with a dead owl and two drunk fishermen on a crying jag on her front porch in the middle of the night?

Frog or Bird? Is it really that hard? (STEREO)

Aug 28, 2017 5:11


Laura talks about her embarrassing, longstanding inability to distinguish birds from frogs. Laura recorded the cane toads in this program in stereo, so preserved that stereo for this program.

Archimedes, 1999-2017

Aug 23, 2017 5:00


Laura remembers her little education bird Archimedes, an Eastern Screech-Owl who died last week.

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Under Siege

Aug 8, 2017 5:09


The current administration is planning to construct a three-mile long levee and border wall right through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

Mantises: too much of a good thing?

Jul 31, 2017 4:35


Sometimes it's possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason. At least for hummingbirds.

Cassia Crossbills: of pinecones and squirrels

Jul 28, 2017 6:15


A brilliant ornithologist name Craig Benkman discovered some very important information about Red Crossbills, leading to a whole new species for science.

Divided We Fall

Jul 24, 2017 5:08


When extremists on both sides of the political divide dig in their heels, it becomes impossible to work out reasonable compromises.

Arm and Hammer bird trading cards, Part II

Jul 20, 2017 4:59


Laura talks about some of the Arm and Hammer bird trading cards she was given by Don and Lynn Watson.

Arm and Hammer bird trading cards, Part I

Jul 19, 2017 4:12


Laura recently started looking into the old trading cards once found in boxes of Arm and Hammer baking soda.

Extinctions (Birds in the News Redux)

Jul 17, 2017 4:58


Laura reported back in 2004 that we were in the Sixth Mass Extinction. News from last week was reporting the same thing, but in the intervening years, we haven't done a thing about it. The recording for the program, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds, is of the now-extinct Bachman's Warbler, recorded by G. Stuart Keith in South Carolina on 15 May 1959.

The Captain of Our Soul

Jul 14, 2017 4:44


Could a bird have written *Invictus*?

The Ancient Mariner Meets the Lord of the Flies

Jul 12, 2017 5:05


When adolescent boys go on a murderous rampage against endangered seabirds, what's the best way to deal with it?

Taking a Giant Step Backwards on Lead

Jul 10, 2017 4:36


Even as we've seen stunning examples of the dangers of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, our new Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, took a giant step backward by overturning a ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle in our national parks and national wildlife refuges.

Peabody Street's Year of the House Wren

Jul 6, 2017 4:46


Three different pairs of House Wrens are nesting on Laura's corner this year.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness Requires Clean Air and Water

Jul 4, 2017 6:37


The most essential requirements for life itself are breathable air and drinkable water.

Thoughts about Chickadees on the Fourth of July

Jul 3, 2017 6:06


Chickadees and their communities embody the very best that we human Americans can aspire to.

Review: Song Sleuth, the bird song identification app

Jun 30, 2017 5:05


A new app says it "turns your iPhone or iPad into an automatic bird song identifier." How well does it live up to that claim? Laura says not so well, for now.

Review: Merlin, the Bird Identification App

Jun 29, 2017 4:56


Laura reviews, and strongly recommends, "Merlin," a bird identification app created by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Where have all the insects gone?

Jun 27, 2017 5:03


Mosquitoes and ticks are proliferating, but many insects are disappearing.

Where Are the Tree Swallows?

Jun 26, 2017 4:43


Tree Swallows never showed up at a lake north of Duluth this year. Where might they be?

Of Bald and Toupee-Wearing Birds

Jun 22, 2017 4:55


In summer, some birds—mostly cardinals and Blue Jays—appear to grow bald, while pelicans don a toupee. What's going on?

Laura's Sound Recording Equipment

Jun 20, 2017 4:57


What equipment does Laura use for recording birds? And do you need such an expensive setup?

Baby ducks and geese in creches or nurseries

Jun 19, 2017 4:59


Why do mother geese and ducks sometimes end up with huge numbers of babies?

The Evocative Power of Sound

Jun 16, 2017 5:08


Laura finds sounds—natural and human—evocative and magical. Many of her natural sound recordings are now available on her website, all indexed by species.

Review: National Geographic field guide, Seventh Edition

Jun 15, 2017 4:59


Laura got a sneak peek preview of the forthcoming Seventh Edition of the National Geographic field guide.

Recap: Spring Warbler Walks

Jun 1, 2017 4:51


On Tuesday, Laura finished up the last of her Duluth Audubon Spring Warbler Walks.

The World I Choose to Live In

May 25, 2017 5:03


Sometimes all we need to restore our spirits is one lovely morning.

Conclusion of 101 Ways to Help Birds

May 23, 2017 4:58


Laura is adding the content of her book 101 Ways to Help Birds to her website. She's more than 2/3 done, and is finding that the issues she wrote about are still problems, and most of the information she presented is still very timely.

Slow Down!

May 22, 2017 4:53


Last week Laura came upon a heartbreaking reminder why we should drive at the slowest speed that is safe, courteous, and convenient. (Listen carefully starting at 3:48, right when Laura mentions owls, to hear Archimedes, her education Eastern Screech-Owl, chime in softly in the background. His cage is near where Laura records, and he apparently listens to her!)

The Floodgates Open!

May 19, 2017 3:42


Bird migration is suddenly hopping!

Spring Update: Separating the MMMMs from the DDDDs.

May 18, 2017 4:52


There are two kinds of spring mornings in Duluth. Non-birders prefer the MMMMs (Magnificent Minnesota Mornings), but sensible birders like the DDDDs (Dull, dank, drizzly, drippy Duluth Days). Why are birders happier in grim weather?

Lewis's Woodpecker in Port Wing!

May 17, 2017 4:47


When Laura heard about a Lewis's Woodpecker in Port Wing, Wisconsin, she grabbed her dog and hopped in the car. It was worth it!

101 Ways to Help Birds is online!

May 16, 2017 4:56


Laura Erickson is making the content of her book, 101 Ways to Help Bird available on her webpage.

Unusually pale Song Sparrow

May 15, 2017 4:13


An odd bird visited Laura's feeder last week, and she's been puzzling over how to describe it correctly, because the scientists don't agree on the right words.

Warbler Walk Update

May 10, 2017 4:52


Spring migration is taking its sweet time, so Laura and participants of her spring warbler walks are savoring it.

Helping Lesser Prairie-Chickens and the People Who Help Them

May 9, 2017 4:15


Laura reminisces about some Lesser Prairie-Chickens she saw in 2013 and 2014, and talks about a prairie-chicken advocate who needs help after a devastating wildfire destroyed his photo blind and the very lek Laura photographed in 2014.

On the Shoulders of Giants

May 8, 2017 5:04


Many scientists started looking seriously at the problem of bird-window collisions after Dr. Daniel Klem established that as many as a billion birds are killed at US windows every year. Dr. Klem's painstaking research over almost four decades provides the underpinnings of all the research going on today.

Vulnerable Waterfront Birds

May 3, 2017 4:59


Birds that can survive only near water can be seriously jeopardized by selfish people.

Worst-Case Scenarios

Apr 26, 2017 4:45


Expecting the worst to happen can be very unrealistic, as a family of Great Blue Herons taught Laura

Life Giving Experiences

Apr 24, 2017 4:55


Time spent with birds can be truly "life giving," as Douglas Wayne Gray told Laura.

National Poetry Month: Birdsong

Apr 20, 2017 4:13


For National Poetry Month, Laura highlights a new book, Birdsong: poems in celebration of birds, with a reading by P. A. Pashibin of her contribution to the book, "Waiting for Fox."

Listener Observations

Apr 17, 2017 4:58


Laura reads from some recent letters from listeners about Evening Grosbeaks and American Robins.

New Chickadee Nest on Peabody Street!

Apr 10, 2017 4:56


Chickadees are starting to build a nest in Laura's neighbor's yard—she'll keep us up to date on what's happening.

A Walk at Park Point

Apr 7, 2017 4:45


Laura's first warbler walk on Park Point didn't have a single warbler, and only 15 bird species total, but she still had a great time.

Unexpected Trip to Chicago

Apr 6, 2017 4:29


Laura took a fun, unexpected trip to Chicago last weekend, and was rewarded with an unexpected and really cool bird .

First Warbler Walk of the year

Apr 5, 2017 4:12


Every Tuesday and Thursday in April and May, Laura leads warbler walks for Duluth Audubon Society. What did they see the first day out?

Where Are the Birds? Part 2

Mar 28, 2017 4:57


Laura talks about how we measure bird declines and why it's so difficult to pinpoint why birds disappear at a particular feeding station. She also asks listeners in the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, area to let her know how their backyard feeding went this year.

Where Are the Birds? Part I

Mar 27, 2017 5:00


A WXPR listener has had very few birds at his feeder this year, and asks Laura if he should continue bird feeding.

Chandler Robbins

Mar 24, 2017 4:15


Of all the birding and ornithology figures Laura has ever known, her greatest hero, as an ornithologist, a conservationist, and a human being, is Chandler Robbins. He died on March 20. Laura's longer remembrance of him is on [her blog](

A Question of Balance

Mar 20, 2017 5:05


Laura just discovered, after all these years, that the sound balance of her programs is off--she makes the birds louder than they should be relative to her voice. She is trying to make this better.

15,354 days and counting

Mar 15, 2017 4:48


As of today, Laura has been a birder for 15,354 days. How many chickadees has she seen in that time?

Thomas Spence's beautiful, pale Pine Siskin

Mar 10, 2017 4:23


Last week, Laura heard from a WTIP listener who has been seeing an extremely pale Pine Siskin.

Rescinding the Ban on Lead Ammo

Mar 6, 2017 4:51


The long-awaited ban on using toxic ammo or fishing tackle on any National Wildlife Refuge, just enacted last year, was rescinded last week.

After Surgery

Mar 3, 2017 4:32


Laura came out of surgery just fine, thinking about chickadees and bird breast muscles.

42: The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

Mar 2, 2017 4:59


Today marks the 42nd anniversary of Laura's first outing as a birdwatcher.

Moseying through the Bog

Feb 27, 2017 4:42


On Saturday, Laura, her friend Lisa, and her little birding dog Pip took a leisurely trip through the Sax-Zim Bog.

High Plains Snow Goose Festival

Feb 24, 2017 5:04


Laura spent a February weekend in Lamar, Colorado, at the High Plains Snow Goose Festival.


Feb 17, 2017 5:00


What can we do about outdoor cats killing birds?

Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Two Harbors

Feb 15, 2017 4:37


What's a Eurasian Tree Sparrow doing hanging around the Do North Pizzeria in Two Harbors, Minnesota?

Dealing with Uncertainties

Feb 10, 2017 5:30


Chickadees are helping Laura deal with some very disconcerting news: a breast cancer diagnosis.

Ruffed Grouse

Feb 9, 2017 5:02


Interesting winter adaptations make a Ruffed Grouse up a tree an arresting sight.

February Romance

Feb 8, 2017 4:43


Laura talks about three species that mate for life, and their February courtship rituals.

Superb Owl Sunday

Feb 7, 2017 4:33


On the first Sunday of February, when many Americans focus on guacamole and flying pigskins, Laura celebrates Superb Owl Sunday.

Twice as Many Species

Feb 3, 2017 5:17


Some scientists believe that there are about 18,000 bird species in the world--not just 10,000 as currently understood.

More about that Pink-footed Goose

Jan 30, 2017 4:25


Laura responds to a couple of questions about the Pink-footed Goose she talked about last week.

Pink-capped Marchers

Jan 24, 2017 4:54


Laura went from seeing a Pink-footed Goose on Friday to marching with a host of pink-capped members of another species on Saturday.

How I spent January 20, 2017

Jan 23, 2017 5:06


Laura was in New York City on a wild goose chase on Friday.

Wealth in the New Gilded Age

Jan 18, 2017 5:13


What makes us truly rich? Laura finds hope in birds and the Chicago Cubs, remembering that last time they won a World Series, Teddy Roosevelt was putting an end to another Gilded Age.

Facing 2017

Jan 9, 2017 5:18


It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. But 2016 is over and now Laura faces 2017 with a quiet hope fanned by Terry Tempest Williams' book Refuge.

Birding at Brooklyn Bridge Park with Heather Wolf

Dec 21, 2016 5:03


Laura joins Heather Wolf, author of Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront, at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

BP Oil Spill Aftermath: New Research

Dec 20, 2016 4:41


Oil from the BP oil spill is being found in the tissues of Seaside Sparrows, meaning it's worked its way up the terrestrial food chain.

Bernard DeVoto's Essay, "Homily for a Troubled Time"

Dec 19, 2016 5:08


When the world seems to be facing the most extreme dangers, how should we respond?

Birds Named for Their Sounds

Dec 16, 2016 4:29


What's in a bird's name? Sometimes a lot of sound.

Canaries in the Coal Mine

Dec 14, 2016 4:39


When thousands of geese die an a Superfund site, what lesson should we learn?

Berkeley Mine Goose Die-off

Dec 8, 2016 6:17


Thousands of Snow Geese were killed just last week at a Superfund site that had been closed to mining back in 1982.

House Sparrows

Dec 5, 2016 5:25


Laura has a place in her heart for a bird that has caused serious problems for bluebirds and martins. Now, even in urbanized areas, House Sparrow numbers are plummeting, and she finds that troubling.

Uganda's National Bird: Crested Crane

Nov 30, 2016 4:46


The stunning Gray Crowned-Crane makes an ideal national emblem for a wonderful country.

A Stroll Down False Memory Lane

Nov 29, 2016 5:00


Some of the stories Laura has been telling for years turn out to have been based on false memories.

Weird Genetics: White-throated Sparrows

Nov 28, 2016 5:33


The White-throated Sparrow has a fascinating chromosomal anomaly that may be unique among all vertebrate animals.

Dealing with the 2016 Election

Nov 25, 2016 5:41


Laura wishes Americans could be more like chickadees.

Equatorial Birding

Nov 24, 2016 5:53


Laura crossed the equator several times this month. Birds didn't seem to notice.

Coming Home from Uganda

Nov 22, 2016 5:41


Laura is home from a trip to a Third World country that is far ahead of ours in some important ways.

Chicago Cubs Win World Series!

Nov 4, 2016 4:40


Laura's been waiting for this her whole life. And even birds seem to approve.

Book Review: Heather Wolf's Birding at the Bridge

Nov 1, 2016 4:56


Laura loves Heather Wolf's book about her adventures in birding along the Brooklyn waterfront, Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront.

Monk Parakeets

Oct 31, 2016 5:40


Monk Parakeets are abundant in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where they are more popular with the management than the pigeons that once nested there. Why is one introduced bird so much more acceptable than another?

Liberty, American Style

Oct 28, 2016 5:17


What we Americans perceive as liberty is not quite the same as what birds do.

Cuban Tody!

Oct 25, 2016 5:25


Laura's Most Wanted Bird turned out to be even more wonderful than she'd anticipated.

A New Chapter!

Oct 24, 2016 4:58


Lifelong dreams really do come true, at least sometimes.

KUMD Live: Back from Cuba!

Oct 18, 2016 6:22


Laura got home from her Cuban trip last night. This morning she talked to Lisa Johnson live about her trip.

The First Shall Be Last: West Peruvian Dove

Sep 27, 2016 4:59


The very first bird Laura saw in Peru turned out to be the last one, too.


Sep 26, 2016 4:43


One of Laura's favorite birds, found along the Amazon River, its tributaries, and the Orinoco Delta in South America, can be found in a small area of Peru, but Laura was there during the dry season, and didn't spend much time in the right habitat anyway. So her chances were poor, but her hopes were high.

Peru! Traveling to Fight Climate Change

Sep 19, 2016 8:17


Airplane travel is a serious driver of human-caused climate change. Tropical deforestation is even more significant, something some forms of eco-tourism can actually help alleviate.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Sep 16, 2016 4:35


One of the birds Laura saw during her first year of birding turns out to be two different species.

Migration Update and Hawk Ridge Weekend

Sep 14, 2016 4:39


This weekend is Hawk Ridge Weekend, and Laura will be there for several events. Migration has been splendid, and even bigger numbers are headed our way!

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Sep 13, 2016 5:26


Laura's Most Wanted Bird in Peru on her recent trip was an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

Live interview with Lisa Johnson at KUMD about my trip to Peru

Sep 12, 2016 4:23


Laura just returned from Peru and talked to Lisa Johnson on the air.

A Walk on the Western Waterfront Trail

Aug 10, 2016 4:13


Despite the sweltering temperatures, fall is upon us, as birds along the Western Waterfront Trail showed Laura yesterday

Birding in the Bog with Pip and Lisa

Aug 3, 2016 4:26


On July 30, Laura brought her friend Lisa and her little birding dog Pip to the Sax-Zim Bog for a lovely, quiet morning.

Just Do It!

Jul 29, 2016 5:09


When the goal is to protect an endangered species, does it matter if the people helping believe in evolution?

Red-bellied Woodpecker Nest: Final Update

Jul 26, 2016 4:33


Laura's nesting Red-bellied Woodpeckers have flown away. How did their nesting turn out?

Requiem for a Beloved Tree

Jul 25, 2016 4:51


Today Laura talks about one of the casualties of the major storm that hit Duluth last week. Post script: Laura's power went back on Sunday night, the day she wrote this. And Minnesota Power had brought in crews from as far as Colorado to speed up the process.

New Mockingbird Research

Jul 18, 2016 4:31


A new study claims that Northern Mockingbirds don't learn new songs as they grow older, but Laura doesn't think the experiment warrants the conclusion.

Endangered Species Act Success Story: Kirtland's Warbler

Jul 13, 2016 5:10


Since protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, Kirtland's Warbler numbers have soared from a low of 167 pairs to more than 2,000.

Endangered Species Act: A Big Success

Jul 12, 2016 4:50


A new report establishes that fully 85 percent of the 120 bird species listed under the Endangered Species Act are recovering or their populations have stabilized, while unlisted species have declined an average of 24 percent since 1974.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Nest Update

Jul 5, 2016 4:52


Laura's nesting Red-bellied Woodpeckers seem to be growing and thriving.

Hog Island Audubon Camp

Jul 1, 2016 4:11


Laura spent two weeks in Maine last month, at the famous Audubon camp at Hog Island.

One Good Tern Deserves Another: Roseate Terns

Jun 30, 2016 4:38


Laura had some quick but lovely experiences with Roseate Terns when she was in Maine.

Least Terns

Jun 27, 2016 4:57


Russ and Laura spent a lovely day watching Least Terns at Popham Beach State Park in Maine.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Nest Update: A Dangerous Turn of Events

Jun 23, 2016 4:06


Laura's backyard Red-bellied Woodpeckers have young in the nest, but the tree is in jeopardy.

Piping Plovers Here and There

Jun 16, 2016 4:45


Last week, Laura visited Popham Beach State Park in Maine, where she was very impressed with how the stewards provide public recreation near where they provide superb protection for Piping Plovers. Meanwhile, back home in Duluth, an off-leash dog chased off the one Piping Plover that showed up on Park Point.


Jun 1, 2016 4:43


To list or not to list: that is the question.

Virginia Rails!

May 31, 2016 4:53


Laura and Pip had a close encounter of the Rail kind at the Western Waterfront Trail.

Woodpecker City!

May 30, 2016 4:29


Some interesting and even unexpected woodpeckers are raising young in Laura's neighborhood.

Correcting Egregious Errors

May 18, 2016 4:47


Over the years, Laura has made some mistakes. Now she's trying to clear the record.

Spring Update

May 17, 2016 4:34


Not many birds are back yet but a Little Blue Heron showed up on Sunday, to Laura's delight and, thanks to eBird, the delight of lots of other birders as well.

Thirty Years

May 12, 2016 5:00


"For the Birds" is thirty years old today. How did Laura come to start producing the program? (This program was produced with technical assistance from Michael Geraci.)

Warbler Day

May 11, 2016 4:59


Today is Warbler Day, when Laura remembers warblers she struggled to identify many years ago, and warblers she saw before she'd ever even heard of such a thing.

Mornings in a Sharp-tailed Grouse Observation Blind

May 10, 2016 4:57


Laura spent two mornings last week at the Douglas County Wildlife Area's Sharp-tailed Grouse lek, watching grouse and more.

The Lusty Month of May on Peabody Street

May 9, 2016 4:41


Chickadees seem to be reenacting at least part of the movie Camelot.

"Dad" the Great Blue Heron

May 3, 2016 5:23


A trusty presence at Sapsucker Woods isn't there this year.

Savoring a Slow Spring

Apr 29, 2016 4:53


Spring may be starting slowly, but there's plenty out there to enjoy.


Apr 28, 2016 4:33


Laura disapproves of the idea of trademarking or branding anything that fundamentally transcends "ownership."

Poems by J. Drew Lanham

Apr 19, 2016 5:03


Laura is thrilled about a new book of poetry by her friend J. Drew Lanham. He read three of his poems for today's program.

The Cruelty of an April Wind

Apr 18, 2016 5:00


April weather in Duluth can be cruel, temps in the 40s when it's in the 70s not far from here, but for a birder, there's a lot of pleasure to be had.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Apr 14, 2016 4:59


One of Laura's friends near Chicago got to watch a sapsucker outside her window for a whole day. What was it doing there?

A Birder's Guide to the Social Graces

Apr 7, 2016 5:05


Laura puts on her "Miss Manners of Birding" hat to explain some rules for deportment in social situations.

First Red-wing of Spring

Apr 5, 2016 4:51


The first Red-winged Blackbird of spring is magic.

Clean Water

Apr 4, 2016 4:51


With the Flint water disaster in the news, raw sewage flowing into Lake Superior in the last big rainstorm, and some of Duluth's water system valves failing in Laura's neighborhood, she's concerned about us maintaining our infrastructure.

Stephen Ingraham's Poems

Mar 28, 2016 3:44


Laura reads two delightful poems by her friend Steve Ingraham.

The Day I Damaged My Hearing

Mar 15, 2016 4:59


Laura discovered the exact cause of her hearing loss from listening to a For the Birds program from November 2006.

Saw-whet Owl!

Mar 14, 2016 4:50


Somehow, the Chicago Cubs and Black-capped Chickadees gave Laura the luck she needed to find a Northern Saw-whet Owl when she was leading a bird walk this weekend.

Archiving the Last Decade of "For the Birds" Programs

Mar 9, 2016 4:54


Laura's been archiving the last decade of For the Birds radio programs, and seeing how little some environmental issues have changed but how much scientists have learned over the years.

Larking About with John Richardson

Mar 1, 2016 4:59


Laura and Pip went birding in the bog with John Richardson, where they were served up a buffet of wonderful birds, and returned home to a sweet dessert.

Leap Year Day

Feb 29, 2016 4:41


Why do we give February that extra day, and do we really want our election years to be our longest years?

Travel and Climate: Suggestions from Jeff Price

Feb 24, 2016 4:31


Dr. Jeff Price, who is with the Tyndall Climate Change Centre in the UK, gave Laura some excellent suggestions about offsets when traveling.

All Albatrosses, Great and Small, Part II

Feb 23, 2016 4:57


How do albatrosses raise their young?

All Albatrosses, Great and Small, Part I

Feb 22, 2016 4:48


In the first of this two-part series, Laura talks about the subject of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, and some of the challenges albatrosses face.

Valentine's Week Pileated Woodpecker

Feb 15, 2016 4:49


Laura's friend Lisa and two little boys in Laura's neighborhood are having fun watching Pileated Woodpeckers.

Heart Attack: One-Year Anniversary

Feb 12, 2016 5:13


Women's heart attack symptoms can be tricky to recognize, so Laura talks about the fuzzy feeling that sent her to the hospital just in time.

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler

Feb 11, 2016 4:07


Yellow-rumped Warblers may be almost unheard of in Minnesota in winter, but they're abundant in California. The western form used to be considered a different species than the eastern form, and they may be re-split in the future. Why?

The Field Museum: Salvaging Something Valuable from Dead Birds

Feb 10, 2016 4:30


The mangled Ivory Gull carcass Laura retrieved in Superior last month is yielding valuable information at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago

Squandering Energy: Letter from a KAXE listener

Feb 9, 2016 4:50


A listener took Laura to task for boasting about squandering energy.

Clay Taylor's Banded Common Tern

Feb 8, 2016 4:25


Clay Taylor, one of Laura's birding friends, recently photographed a Common Tern with a leg band. He worked out the band number with his photographs, sent them to the Bird Banding Lab, and learned that the tern was 23 years old!

Maxene Linehan's Yellow-rumped Warbler

Feb 4, 2016 4:57


Maxene Linehan of Hovland, Minnesota, had a Yellow-rumped Warbler coming to her feeder for most of January. What was it doing out of range, and what are its chances of surviving?

My little girl

Feb 3, 2016 4:47


Laura's daughter Katherine has developed a new webpage for her that will allow people to look up birds and find Laura's photographs, articles, and past radio programs about them.

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon

Feb 2, 2016 5:17


Laura talks about this annual tradition.

The Quality of Mercy Can Be Strained, Part II

Feb 1, 2016 4:56


Laura continues about the issues involved in helping birds, this time focusing on how bad for birds well-intentioned acts of mercy can be.

The Quality of Mercy Can Be Strained, Part I

Jan 29, 2016 4:39


Laura talks about how we humans must use our heads and our brains both to figure out what animals need, and to help them safely.

Ivory Gull: R.I.P.

Jan 28, 2016 4:31


The Ivory Gull that was present in Duluth since at least New Years Day appeared to be ill or injured this past weekend, and is presumed dead.

A Kindness of Ravens

Jan 20, 2016 4:52


Listener Mike Bartz wrote to Laura about a fascinating encounter he made with three ravens.

Winter Bird Update

Jan 18, 2016 3:33


Lots of unusual birds have appeared this winter in the Northland. Laura recorded this program on Friday, January 15; that very day another Ivory Gull appeared in Duluth, but didn't stay around. On Saturday, two Black-legged Kittiwakes showed up. At least one was still being seen on Monday, January 18. And Laura's been hearing from someone in Hovland, north of Grand Marais, about a Yellow-rumped Warbler visiting her feeder.

2016 Travel for Laura

Jan 15, 2016 4:58


Laura's going to be taking four major trips this year: to California, Maine, Cuba, and Uganda. How does she study up on her birds ahead of time?

New Years Resolution: eBird!

Jan 12, 2016 4:45


Laura has resolved to keep track of every bird she sees with eBird this year. Fortunately, with the eBird app (for iPhones and Android), this won't be too hard!

Feeding Gulls vs. Feeding Owls

Jan 11, 2016 4:44


Is there a difference ethically between tossing out food for wild owls vs. wild gulls? Laura says yes, and the difference is rooted in these birds' basic biology and ecology.

The Ivory Gull Is Dead. Long Live the Ivory Gull!

Jan 7, 2016 5:15


On January 6, Laura received an email saying the Ivory Gull had died in Superior, with photos. She went to retrieve the carcass, and immediately got a message that people were watching "the" Ivory Gull in Canal Park: there were TWO!

January Indigo Bunting?!

Jan 6, 2016 5:04


An Indigo Bunting, which belongs in Central America right now, is visiting Laura Erickson's neighborhood right now.

Malheur NWR standoff

Jan 5, 2016 4:54


Lots of people are making jokes about birders facing off the armed insurrectionists who have taken over Malheur NWR headquarters. For Laura Erickson, this is no laughing matter.

New Years Day Lifer: Ivory Gull!

Jan 4, 2016 4:39


Laura doesn't get lifers easily anymore, but on New Years Day, she added a good one!

Little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes: Hearing Aids

Dec 14, 2015 4:25


Laura Erickson has started a new webpage focused on the needs of older birders ( Today she talks about hearing aids.

Bucket Lists

Dec 4, 2015 4:47


Many publications put out headlines like "10 Places You Must Visit before You Die" or "20 Birds You Must See Before You Die!" After her heart attack, Laura decided bucket lists were not such a great idea.

Pupdate: Pip at Eleven Months

Dec 1, 2015 4:59


Laura's puppy Pip turns eleven months old this week--Laura's had her since the first day of spring. How's it going, birding with a fluffy little foo foo dog?

When I'm Sixty-Four

Nov 11, 2015 4:51


When the Beatles first released "When I'm Sixty-Four," Laura wasn't even 16 years old, and being that old seemed a long way off.

A Purple Gallinule in Duluth?!

Oct 30, 2015 4:56


In late October, a Purple Gallinule was found injured in West Duluth and brought to the Wildwoods Rehabilitation Clinic. What was it doing so far from where it belongs?

Snowy Owls Part 2

Oct 29, 2015 4:57


How is Snowy Owl migration like an elephant? People studying different aspects of the owls' movements are like blindfolded people feeling one part of an elephant and making guesses about the whole animal.

Snowy Owls Part I

Oct 27, 2015 4:31


We know a lot more about Snowy Owl migration today than we did in the 1970s, but the more we learn, the more we realize we still don't know.

Gray Jays: The Black Labs of the Bird World

Oct 19, 2015 5:04


Laura makes some comparisons to explain why Gray Jays could be considered the Black Labs of the bird world, and also explains some of the ways that they are different from dogs.

Red-eyed Vireo, Part II: After I fell in love

Oct 13, 2015 4:54


What made Laura Erickson fall in love with a nondescript bird whose song is often dismissed as monotonous?

Red-eyed Vireo, Part I: Before I fell in love

Oct 12, 2015 4:52


Like several characters in literature, Laura spent a lot of time with a bird before she realized she was in love.

Snail Kite: The Bad News

Oct 7, 2015 4:59


Not all apple snails are the same, and what's good for Snail Kites isn't necessarily good for the Florida Everglades.

Snail Kite: The Good News

Oct 6, 2015 4:59


Snail Kites are increasing in Florida, and Laura got to enjoy some up close and personal last month.


Sep 9, 2015 4:20


With this year's migration, what kind of numbers are we talking about?

Fall migration update

Sep 8, 2015 4:58


How this summer's baby birds influenced this fall migration

Savoring and Saving My Treasures

Sep 7, 2015 4:41


Any bird worth savoring is worth saving.


Aug 27, 2015 4:55


Every fall, flickers gather along north woods dirt roads and in backyards on their journey south

Poem by Marianne Boruch's poem, "Crushed Birds"

Aug 21, 2015 3:53


Duluth's Becca Mulenburg came upon a tragic scene in her yard, a squirrel feasting on an Evening Grosbeak. Laura talks about how hard it is for most of us to see bird tragedies, and reads Marianne Boruch's poem, "Crushed Birds."

Baby Squirrel: A story with a happy ending

Aug 17, 2015 4:57


Thanks to the little boy next door and his little digital camera, a baby squirrel was saved by its mother.

Hunter vs. Non-Hunter: A Tale of Two Little Kids

Aug 6, 2015 6:28


Laura and her big brother worked out how to enjoy the world of nature as children.

Birding with Pip: Update

Jul 21, 2015 5:01


Laura has now traveled 6900 miles with her puppy Pip, and they've seen 198 species of birds together.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets nesting on Peabody Street!

Jul 8, 2015 5:03


Laura has been keeping track of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet that sang every day throughout June near her house. She finally spotted a kinglet carrying food, confirming nesting!

Peabody Street Robins

Jul 7, 2015 4:55


More robins are nesting near Laura's house this year than have nested there since the 1980s.

The Bold and the Beautiful: Duluth's Peregrine Falcons Part 2

Jul 3, 2015 5:07


The continuing saga of Duluth's downtown Peregrine Falcons.

The Bold and the Beautiful: Duluth's Peregrine Falcons Part 1

Jul 1, 2015 4:53


Laura talks about the first individual Peregrine Falcons that nested in downtown Duluth, starting in 2003.

Red-eyed Vireo

Jun 29, 2015 4:34


Although 50 percent of all birds that hit windows end up dying later from head trauma and other causes, one Red-eyed Vireo that hit a window at Laura's house may well have beaten the odds.

Window Collisions Part 2

Jun 26, 2015 4:53


Laura gives more information about window collisions, and gives tips about preventing them. (Make sure to check out the supplemental content URL for photos.)

Window Collisions This Spring

Jun 25, 2015 4:17


Three birds were killed at Laura's windows this spring--two at the smallest window on her house and one at a window with bird-protective tape.

2015 Mourning Dove Survey

Jun 18, 2015 5:08


The US Fish and Wildlife Service and USGS cancelled their annual Mourning Dove Call-Count Survey a couple of years ago. This year, they started a new survey, using a new protocol but 10 percent of the old routes. Laura is delighted.

Chickadee Update: Fledging!

Jun 12, 2015 4:51


Just a day after Laura saw the nest of her favorite chickadee, the babies were fledging. She was there to witness the last three leave the nest.

Chickadee Nesting Update!

Jun 11, 2015 4:20


In late 2013, Laura noticed a chickadee with a deformed bill coming to her feeder. Later, she discovered that the bird also has a deformed foot. He didn't attract a mate in 2014, but this year he has a mate and is nesting successfully. Laura spent time photographing the little family.

Protecting Plovers, Part II

Jun 4, 2015 5:02


Laura talks about some special programs that have helped Piping and Snowy Plovers.

Protecting Plovers, Part I

Jun 3, 2015 5:07


Laura talks about the plovers that breed in the Lower 48, and especially about some of the challenges facing Piping and Snowy Plovers.

Laura and Pip's "Sort-of-a-Big-Day" Recap

Jun 1, 2015 5:04


On May 21, Laura and Pip set out to see as many species as they could in a single day.

Hearty News about Chickadees

May 21, 2015 4:21


David Sibley made a wonderful recording a chickadee's heart rate, which he gave Laura permission to share. She talks about chickadee heart rates, and also has an update about one chickadee near and dear to her heart.

Killing Birds with Our Driving

May 20, 2015 3:59


This weekend, Laura had a dramatic reminder of how our driving habits affect birds.

Laura and Pip's "Sort-of-a-Big-Day"

May 19, 2015 5:07


Laura and her plucky sidekick Pip the Birding Dog will be doing a low-key Big Day on Thursday to raise money for Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. How is she preparing?

Billy Collins's Genius

May 1, 2015 2:48


Billy Collins gave Laura permission to read his lovely poem, "Genius," on the air.

Kansas Wings N Wetlands birding festival

Apr 29, 2015 5:05


Laura was keynote speaker at Kansas's Wings N Wetlands birding festival last weekend. Great birds and a lifer rattlesnake (a Massasauga) and wonderful people made the weekend a success!

Climate Change and Birds

Apr 17, 2015 5:29


Many birders are up in arms regarding Jonathan Franzen's April 6 article in the New Yorker, in which he said climate change is not the only urgent issue birds face, and expressed frustration that Audubon's new climate change report minimized the importance of other problems for birds. Laura thinks people should be working together to help birds on all fronts.