Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Our Far-Flung Correspondents: Thanksgiving

Sandhill Crane

One of the best things about being an independent producer of a radio program and podcast is hearing from listeners. I do all my work on a tiny scale, without underwriting or anyone to do PR, so I don’t have to deal with too many Russian bots or spam promotions in the comment section on my blog, and my radio and podcast listeners seem exceptionally nice and helpful. I do get more email than I know how to deal with, mostly birding listserv reports, updates from bird and conservation organizations, and spam, with some work-related stuff thrown in. I don’t often hear from listeners, and sometimes when I do, their interesting and important emails get mixed up with everything else, and I lose track of them. If you’ve sent me an email and I responded but never followed up, that’s unfortunately what happened. 

On Thanksgiving last week, I received a couple of emails from listeners that made me very thankful. Julie in Hollister, Wisconsin, sent me a great article by Patrick O’Connell in the Chicago Tribune detailing how well Sandhill Cranes are doing in the Chicago area and beyond. It notes that in the 1930s, only two dozen breeding pairs of Sandhill Cranes lived in the entire state of Wisconsin. The population in the upper Midwest is now between 65,000 and 95,000, and the increase has accelerated in the past decade.

Why are Sandhill Cranes doing so well? Wetlands recovery has been a big part of it, but the president of the International Crane Foundation, Rich Beilfuss, said, “They’ve made this existential decision to live with people, rather than avoid them.” Those of us who live in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota can’t help but appreciate that wonderful increase, too.

Along with the interesting article, Julie wrote a Thanksgiving message:
I just wanted to tell you that you are one of the things I'm grateful for.  You made our adjustment to rural WI less ? painful.  We had been coming here and owned this property for over thirty years but didn't realize how isolated we might feel actually living here.  Your voice w/your mostly uplifting stories REALLY helped us along as we really started our new adventure.  
‘Mostly uplifting’ because sometimes you share something that is hard to hear but your take on it makes me feel, well, lets see if we can work to make this better or work.
 That email left me with a warm glow, as did this one from Joni in Brandon, Florida.

Hi Laura, 
I recently discovered your podcast and it is now one of my favorites.  I appreciate your passion for and enjoyment of birds.  I also like hearing about what is going on in your life and your concerns for the environment. 
I like your most recent podcast, A November Awakening, and I agree completely about preferring standard time. 
I am blind, so I can't appreciate the visual beauty of birds, but I love birdsongs and being able to identify some birds that way. 
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving I decided it was a good time to send you a note of thanks for all of the work you do.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for all the pleasure and insights you have provided via your podcast.

I seldom get around to thanking the many people who enrich my life. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? And if a person produces a program and no one listens, does her work have any meaning?  For the Birds would be worthless without somebody out there listening; that is why I am so very grateful to you for listening.