Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hooray for the New York Times!

Give birds a break! Lock up the cat.


Did you ever wonder how parents can possibly forget one of their children at an Interstate rest stop? That's how horrifyingly negligent I feel! I got my spanking new copy of The Bird Watching Answer Book, which is supposed to be "Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond." I've been writing a lot about genuinely bird-friendly coffee lately, and how the Smithsonian's seal is the ONLY way, unless you yourself have checked out the coffee plantations where your coffee came from or absolutely trust your supplier, that you can be 100 percent certain that every one of your coffee beans was grown on an organic shade coffee plantation with enough structure to the canopy and understory plants to ensure that the plantation is supporting a good assortment of birds. This is an issue I care so much about that I made it the very first in my 101 Ways to Help Birds.

Anyway, I opened the index in my new book to refresh my memory about what I wrote about it, and OH NO!!! It isn't in there! I FORGOT to include one of the easiest ways we individuals can make a huge difference for birds!!! I have no idea how it got overlooked in this book, except that maybe my files about questions from people really don't include a question about shade-grown coffee. Oh, dear. Anyway, this instantly goes on my list of things to include in a second edition if it sells well enough to have a second edition.

But now my brain couldn't stop thinking OH MY GOSH--WHAT ELSE DID I FORGET????? And I instantly came to the other shockingly easy and inexpensive way that we should ALL be helping birds--by buying a Duck Stamp. Oh, my God. Paul Baicich will never forgive me. This was inexcusable. Again, I honestly thought I'd written about both things, and have no idea how they didn't make it into the book when they should have been the first two questions in the conservation chapter.

So--now I'm worried. What other beloved children of mine have I forgotten? If anyone notices any other egregious omissions, please let me know! I'll be keeping a running tab so the next edition can be more complete.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Bird Watching Answer Book

I'm holding it in my own two hands for the first time today! I got the photo taken in my apartment complex office.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hooray for Birds & Beans!

Finally--a place specializing in the real thing--Certified Bird Friendly coffee!! Check out Birds & Beans.

There are only two officially certified coffees--the Smithsonian's Bird Friendly, and the Rainforest Alliance. Unfortunately, coffee sold with the Rainforest Alliance doesn't need to be 100 percent certified, so a significant part of one of their blends isn't necessarily grown to the high standards that the Smithsonian Institution requires for their certification. And other coffees, even if they have a lovely bird on the package, aren't necessarily grown using the best practices for birds. "Shade-grown" can refer to a monoculture of canopy trees with no bromeliads and virtually no diversity. If you can't find genuine, certified Bird Friendly coffee in your neck of the woods, you can order it directly from Birds & Beans. That's what I'm going to be doing from now on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Clean air and water AND a great economy do go hand in hand.

Forbes ranks Switzerland as the cleanest country in the world. And guess which country has the most competitive economy as judged by the World Economic Forum? Good old Switzerland! Sweden is also very highly ranked on both fronts.

Feral Cats

Audubon magazine has a superb article about the feral cat "Trap, Neuter, Release" programs that are subsidizing feral cats, making them last longer as bird killers without reducing their numbers ANYWHERE. It's a great article which I strongly recommend.

My personal cat, Kasey, came from one of those ridiculous TNR programs--I took her in because I couldn't bear to watch her killing birds. She's very happy indoors. Those cats that cannot adapt to indoor life should be caged or humanely euthanized. Period.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hawk Ridge Weekend--and I'll be there on Friday!!

I'm in Duluth until early Saturday. Yesterday was my first day in town so naturally I headed for Hawk Ridge. Russ and I walked around and saw the new overlook perch for the counters (it's way up high with a wonderful view!!). Karl Bardon, the counter, was up there staring into the blue sky--it was a slowish day and we were there at the tail end, but two kestrels came by nice and low. I got to meet Aldo Contreras, a counter visiting from Veracruz, too. Debbie Waters, the Naturalist, was up there, and Erik Bruhnke was serving as count interpreter. That was what I used to do most at Hawk Ridge, though informally. It's lovely to see that now it's a regular and valued job. Erik does absolutely wonderful work--he's a fountain of knowledge and he bubbles over with enthusiasm. His love for birds is contagious.

Hawk Ridge has evolved over recent years to be truly in a new Golden Age. I'll be there several times this week. And I was thrilled to discover that they're celebrating "Hawk Weekend" this coming weekend! So I'll get to be there Friday to hear Carrol Henderson's talk. Carrol has been the Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor since 1977, and is author of several great books including what I consider to be THE best book ever written about bird feeding, Wild About Birds: The DNR Bird-Feeding Guide. He'll be talking about his new book, "Birds in Flight: the Art and Science of How Birds Fly." I can't wait to see him, and all my other Duluth friends, again!