The Book!

Available now! My story of becoming a biologist and the remarkable birds I studied.

Oregon State University Press.

Cover photo by Roger Dietrich.

Buy it here or ask your local independent bookstore to order it!

As part of my book premiere, I’m publishing a series of videos I took during my nighthawk research. Follow this page, as I will be posting links to new papers or videos each week.

Events surrounding the book release:

An author event scheduled for November 11, 2021, 6pm in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at Pearl Street Books.

November 20, 2021 – In-person fundraiser for Fellow Mortals Animal Hospital, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (featured in book for rehabilitating nighthawks). Sale of books benefit the hospital (masks required). Doors open at 4pm.

December 2, 2021 – 7pm, Virtual author event, reading, chat with author, multimedia, (including how birders can find nighthawks in the Madison area), Room of One’s Own book store, Madison, Wisconsin. Watch the replay here.

The book is available at Pearl Street Books in La Crosse, Room of One’s Own in Madison, Fellow Mortals Animal Hospital gift shop in Lake Geneva, and Driftless Books in Viroqua.

Environmental Racism

This time at home during the pandemic has presented an opportunity for self-education. One topic I have spent some time mulling is environmental racism, and the history the environmental movement and conservationists are revisiting. One action toward progress involves renaming birds to reflect a more inviting and inclusive future for our profession. Check out this article for more. Follow Bird Names for Birds on Facebook, too!

Music and Science

Music has been a huge inspiration to me, especially now during the pandemic. I have never wished so much to be part of a crowd. But, more importantly, scientists can learn a lot from creative people. Science and creativity go hand in hand. We need to think empathetically to muster hypotheses from our preconceived notions about how this world works. I think often how musicians and novelists imagine how others live as they paint a story. We do the same when we imagine how animals survive.

I listened to music quite a bit while writing my dissertation, my book and my papers. Music lifts me up and gets me moving during this period of extended telework. Being a Generation X kid who grew up in Minneapolis, I took much inspiration from the arty kids around me and the 1970s punks who came before me. This politically aware DIY culture inspired me to a level of independence needed to pursue a life in science unlike anyone had done in my family before.

Plus, the nights chasing nighthawks among the cornfields and the scorching days on rooftops had a romanticism and wry humor in the music I chose. Check out my Spotify playlist above.

Do birds hiss?

Turns out, yes! For some birds, their vocalizations are not so musical. Nighthawks cluck and make a “peent” sound to deter predators and competitors and swoop down to let air rush through their feathers (termed a “boom call”). But they also emit a rattling hiss like this one. Nightjars, the family to which they belong, among other birds, are suboscines. Oscines, the other major bird group, which include the songbirds, are known for their more complex vocalizations.

As part of my book premiere, I’m publishing a series of videos I took during my nighthawk research. 

Are you interested in having a speaker talk about this mysterious animal, how to bird for nighthawks in your town, and how to help conserve it? Contact me (Gretchen.Newberry@yahoo.com)!! I do in-person or virtual multimedia talks and author readings. 

How dangerous is a rooftop habitat?

Very! Nighthawk chicks have been known to fall off. These nighthawk chicks were OK, but choosing a habitat away from ground predators has some trade-offs.

As part of my book premiere, I’m publishing a series of videos I took during my nighthawk research. 

Are you interested in having a speaker talk about this mysterious animal, how to bird for nighthawks in your town, and how to help conserve it? Contact me (Gretchen.Newberry@yahoo.com)!! I do in-person or virtual multimedia talks and author readings. 

How do nighthawk chicks stay cool?

Much like adults, they use multiple strategies including gular fluttering. This is the vibration of the gular region of their throats. It releases warm air and circulates cool air back to the body. Check out my earlier post to see an adult gular flutter.

As part of my book premiere, I’m publishing a series of videos I took during my nighthawk research. 

Are you interested in having a speaker talk about this mysterious animal, how to bird for nighthawks in your town, and how to help conserve it? Contact me (Gretchen.Newberry@yahoo.com)!! I do in-person or virtual multimedia talks and author readings.