Best picture of me ever. By Katherine Erickson, 1988.
About Laura Erickson
Upcoming speaking engagements
Laura Erickson is:
- Producer, since May 12, 1986, of "For the Birds," which airs on KUMD-Duluth, MN, KAXE-Grand Rapids, MN, WOJB-Hayward, WI, WXPR-Rhinelander, WI, KVSC-St. Cloud, MN, KSRQ-Thief River Falls, MN, and WRFA-LP-Jamestown, NY. This is the longest-running radio program about birds in the United States.
- Author of:
- The Bird Watching Answer Book: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) (2009—Workman Publishing Company)
- 101 Ways to Help Birds (2006--Stackpole Books) This is my magnum opus. I worked on it for 2 1/2 years and made it the best I could. It's my one best shot at making the world a kinder and gentler place for birds and people both. One dollar from every book sold will go directly into my "Adorable Bird Quest Fund."
- Contributing author to Good Birders Don't Wear White: 50 Tips from North America's Top Birders (2007, Houghton Mifflin)
- Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids (1997--University of Minnesota Press) winner of the National Outdoor Book Award for 1997. This book is NOT a children's book--it was written for teachers, parents, naturalists, and other people who work with children, and draws heavily on experiences I've had with children as a mother, elementary and junior high teacher, and Brownie and Girl Scout leader. Humor writer Dave Barry (yes--THAT Dave Barry!) wrote, "I heartily endorse this book because the author once sent me a tapeworm that came from a bird."
- For the Birds: An Uncommon Guide (1994--University of Minnesota Press) I was asked to write this book by Don and Nancy Tubesing, owners of Pfeifer-Hamiton, the original publisher. It's 365 essays based on my radio program. Dave Barry wrote, "This book is invaluable. For example, it states that as many as 1600 tapeworms have been found in a single duck. This is the kind of information I use every day."
- Co-author of Earth's Chemical Clues: The Story of Geochemistry (1991--Enslow Press) Don't laugh--I am not making this one up. Dr. George Rapp wrote it, and I sort of translated it for children. And somehow I managed to work photos of all three of my children into it.
- Contributing writer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. From 2008–2010, I was science editor for the Lab editing BirdScopeand writing content for the Lab's Webby-winning website, All About Birds.
- In the mid-90s. I was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota in Avian Physiology, studying nighthawk cecal function under Dr. Gary Duke--I had to end my research early because it was first hard to finish some of the work when my children were small, and then Gary had to retire early for health reasons. So I'll never be "Dr. Laura," but Gary did tell me that I'm the world authority on nighthawk digestion. Of course, he also noted that it's a distinction nobody else particularly wants.
- "American Robin Expert" and "Whooping Crane Expert" for the Webby winning site Journey North. I also make occasional additional contributions for Journey North.
- Columnist for The Senior Reporter and The Country Today. (I gave up my monthly column in The Star Tribune in 2005, after eleven years, to finish my new book. The wonderful Val Cunningham took over for me.)
- Frequent contributor to Birder's World and I've also written for Audubon, Birding, and other national and regional birding and conservation magazines.
- For five years in the 90s I was the spring season sightings editor for The Passenger Pigeon, the journal of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology.
- During the late 80s and early 90s, I was Dawn Dickey Duty counter at the Lakewood Pumping Station (I'm the one who was in charge October 1, 1988, the day we talled over 96,000 birds--mostly robins and warblers--in five hours!)
- Former emergency auxilliary back-up August raptor counter at Hawk Ridge.
- Former licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
- In the late 90s I frequently answered bird questions for researchers producing the TV show, "Win Ben Stein's Money."
- I helped identify the charred carcasses of two birds sucked up into an Air National Guard F-16 engine, causing the plane to crash on takeoff in Duluth on September 18, 1992. (The pilot, Dave Johnson, managed to eject safely.) This was the first case on record of a plane colliding with Lesser Golden Plovers. Identification was verified by Roxie Laybourne of the Smithsonian Institution.
- The Duluth Public Library Reference and Information desk once contacted me to get information about exactly how birds "do it," as they delicately put it, so I am apparently considered the "Dr. Ruth of the bird world," which is how the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum described me in promotion materials when I gave a talk there in 2004.
- Former Staff Ornithologist of Binoculars.com.
I've won a few awards over the years, including:
- In May, 2007 I was given the Bronze Passenger Pigeon by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology "For significant contributions to Wisconsin ornithology."
- The Frances F. Roberts Award from the Cooper and Wilson Ornithological Societies at their 1991 joint meeting (for my paper on daytime warbler migration along Lake Superior
- Artists' grant awarded from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council in 1997 for a memoir about my grandmother, and a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant in 1985 for some fiction I was working on.
- The Conservation Award from The Raptor Center in 1988 for working hard to stop construction of a guyed, lighted antenna tower on Moose Mountain, on the Hawk Ridge flyway near Duluth.
- The National Outdoor Book Award in 1997 for Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids.
- Second place in the American Ornithologists' Union Bird-Calling Contest in the repertoire category for my owl calls.
I've given talks about birds, birding, and conservation in many places, from Denver to Sandusky, and from northern Minnesota to south Texas. I'm licensed to keep an owl, Archimedes, who accompanies me on speaking programs unless they involve overnights--Archimedes HATES sleeping in a small cage or enclosure.
My speaking topics include:
- 101 Ways to Help Birds (overview or with a more specific focus)
- Spring birds
- Summer birds
- Fall birds
- Winter birds
- The Common Nighthawk
- Hawk migration through Duluth
- Intriguing birds
- Uncommon facts about common birds
- Birds and spirituality
- Bird Intelligence
I'm perfectly happy to put together talks about other topics as needed.
My family includes my husband Russ, a research chemist, and my kids Joe, Katherine, and Tom who are at that point in life where they are either in college or having adventures or both; they taught me that birding is a somatic, not a genetically transmitted, mutation. I adore my mother-in-law, who gave me my first pair of binoculars for Christmas in 1974. She lives in Port Wing, Wisconsin, my favorite birding place. My faithful birding companion is my little dog Photon.