Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Colbert Warning

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All

(Comment added January 26) The Colbert Christmas special is every bit as wonderful as I'd hoped. BUT before it starts, you have to wade through some exceptionally raunchy promos. I have no idea who at Comedy Central made the decision about what programs to promote at the start of the DVD, but that person does not belong in marketing. The programs highlighted do not in any way share the sensibilities of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert's own children are in his Christmas program, and he handed out copies to everyone in Martha Stewart's audience--this must be pretty hard to explain.

You can click the "next" button on your remote to get through these. Unfortunately, there are three of these promos, each raunchier than the previous one, so remember to click THREE times.

Oh, man--I can't wait for the Colbert Christmas Special! I don't have TV--I'm not springing for cable until my car's paid for. But this is coming out on DVD on Tuesday, so I'll be headed to Target at lunch! I'm probably going to be in Ithaca by myself this Thanksgiving, and now it won't seem nearly as lonely.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saddest Christmas song ever?

Well, saddest song from a version of "A Christmas Carol," anyway. I think it must be how the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Moravia, NY, and the young Little Blue Heron in Sapsucker Woods are feeling right about now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Birds of Peru wins National Outdoor Book Award!

The National Outdoor Book Awards were announced last week, and I'm thrilled that The Birds of Peru won as best guidebook! Beautiful, comprehensive, reasonably compact for a book that covers 1,792 species. Now I can't wait to actually use my copy in the field!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Down memory lane

I just noticed that Michigan State's basketball team is ranked #6! Russ and I got season tickets to see all the games during the 72-74 seasons. Oh, wow I loved that team. I had SUCH a crush on Gary Ganakas--he was my height (5'5"!) but led the Big Ten in assists, thanks to his wonderful ability to set up plays--he was so focused and speedy--and the amazing Mike Robinson, who was the top scorer in the Big Ten during I think his first three years, and would have led as a senior except for an injury and the fact that Gary had graduated. (I think I remember this correctly--if you know better, let me know!) And Mike Robinson was only 5'10" or 5'11", and SO handsome. I simply adored Gus Ganakas, the coach, and Gary. And the center (I think--he might have been a forward but I think he was the center) was the sublimely wonderful Bill Kilgore! Oh, man!

Russ and I spent our entire discretionary income on season tickets just to see these wonderful guys. We always got there early to sit in the very first row, where I could watch their faces. Kilgore always looked so steady and relaxed--rather like our President-Elect--and I loved watching the five players working together, putting their hearts into every game. They were a splendid team and gave me some of my happiest times in college. I wonder what's happened to them all?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Disturbing pollution problem

Uh oh.

Triple Golden Birthday

When I was in fifth grade, I calculated out that I was going to turn 60 on 11-11-11. That seemed amazing and thrilling, too cosmically cool to even make me consider how old 60 sounded.

Well, 11-11-11 is looming, less than three years away now. It's a bit sobering, but rather than looking at the gloominess of the prospect, I'm trying to think of the best place on earth to celebrate the day. Maybe the perfect choice would be Cuba, to finally see the smallest bird in the universe, the Bee Hummingbird, or my most-wanted bird, the Cuban Tody--the most adorable bird in the universe.
(Pete Morris kindly allowed me to use this photo to highlight the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival.)
Maybe I should go to the Sahara to see the largest bird in the universe. Or maybe I should go to a familiar place to spend the day with the most resplendent bird in the universe.

And there are plenty of other cool birds there, too!

Or should I just stay home enjoying the most pleasant company in the universe?

Well, whatever I do, I'll be filled with great expectations and hope and joy up until the day. And with luck, the afterglow will be intense enough to dim out the fears that seem to arrive with every new decade after we've finished our twenties.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This is pretty funny

...well, except for the "Blue-crested Sparrow." They could have chosen a real species.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Where is Katie now?

My daughter's bicycle trip continues apace.

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Hooray for Mike McDowell

Mike McDowell posted on his splendid blog the tragic story of a lost Burrowing Owl who found temporary refuge in one of my favorite birding hot spots--Montrose Harbor in Chicago--and who was killed by a Cooper's Hawk, most likely after being flushed way too much by birders eager to see the tiny owl. Mike points us to this story in the Chicago Tribune.

I've always been pretty ambivalent about hotline birds--it really is fun to see new species, and many times birders can see them without causing any harm at all. But a crepuscular owl deserves to be left in peace when it turns up in an unexpected place. Of course, I feel hypocritical saying this since I'm one of the many birders who "chased" the Burrowing Owl that turned up in Duluth on May 31, 1997. It was thrilling to see it so far out of its range, but most of the groups that saw it had to flush it to see it. My group (this happened the day of the 1997 Hawk Ridge Birdathon) arrived while another group had it in a spotting scope, so at least it didn't flush on my account, but still. It was never seen after that day, and I always hoped it had moved on to a more appropriate area rather than being eaten or hit by a car as a result of being flushed by acquisitive birders.

Anyway, I've been so limited by work and travel lately that I haven't been able to either chase other people's rarities or find my own. But I'm starting to think that maybe we do need to stop reporting rarities as long as birders are so unwilling to police our own and limit our activities when we can so fatally stress the birds we profess to love.

Farewell, Studs

One of the greatest of "the greatest generation" died on Friday. Studs Terkel lived 96 years without ever once seeing the Cubs win the World Series.

Oh, my! ANNETTE!!!!!

Anyone in their late 50s (I turn 57 next week!!) probably remembers the Mickey Mouse Club, and the females among us probably fondly remember the series "Annette." It was perhaps the first "chick flick" in series form. It's coming out in DVD on MY BIRTHDAY! I'm expecting my real birthday present to arrive this Tuesday night as the polls close, but now I'll have something else to look forward to as well!!