John Richardson of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Richardson is the observatory’s spring hawk count interpreter, educating the public during the migration north. The daily count runs until the end of May. Last year, 32,603 raptors (17 species) were counted between March 1 and May 29. He also directs the observatory’s fall count.
Recently finished Bernd Heinrich’s “Mind of the Raven.” Ravens are fascinating creatures that are widespread across northern Minnesota and are somewhat taken for granted. But these birds have an incredibly complex social life and are one of the most intelligent among the avian kingdom. Understanding them and other intelligent birds, such as chickadees, allows us to widen our scope of the comprehension of birds (and the broader animal world) and realize terms such as “bird brain” should, in fact, be a compliment, not a disrespectful put-down.
In terms of a national figure leading the environmental movement, I feel we are left wanting at the present time. However, what does excite me is the emergence and growth of citizen science, which can be effective on a national and global level through social media and the internet.
For example, the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University runs a program (now worldwide) which you can download as an app called eBird. This program allows the individual to track and record what birds they are seeing, where, and how many, along with the ability to attach photographs and audio records. This provides a plethora of data which can be, and is being used by individuals and researchers alike. We can track migration of species, and changes in migration due to changing climate, among a wealth of other important issues. It’s changed to a large extent how people enjoy and study birds.
Being a Brit, I’m a huge soccer fan and love to follow my childhood team — Liverpool — with my three boys. I do love to binge-watch in winter on Netflix, and I particularly enjoy watching gritty crime dramas from Europe. France, Sweden, Finland, Germany, among others, turn out some real quality programming.
I’m a political science major by trade and have a closet fascination (and frustration) with U.S. politics. There is never a dull moment. I enjoy listening to MPR and BBC World Service for the bulk of my listening, but will listen to other mediums to gain a wider perspective of current moods and happenings.
I do enjoy traveling, however, with small boys that is limited currently. I will take short trips thanks to my loving and understanding wife. I recently traveled to Florida to see friends and birds. We ventured out 80 to 100 miles into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the last frontiers where little is known about the bird life. This is about as close to a pioneer as I will get, but it’s a truly fascinating adventure seeing species very few get to see such as the Scopoli’s and great shearwaters, which are among the most seagoing of birds and come to land to breed. I have a burning desire to write in the future. Once the children are a little older, and [I] have more time and sleep, perhaps? I have an idea for a murder-mystery set within the birding community. Believe me, there is plenty of drama and material at hand.