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Bird is the word: Grief, curiosity, and aerial ramming in Marina Richie’s ‘Halcyon Journey’

Marina Richie’s ‘Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher,’ winner of a 2022 National Outdoor Book Award.

This week on The Write Question, host Lauren Korn speaks with Marina Richie about her memoir, Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher (Oregon State University Press). Lauren spoke with Marina in June of this year—of 2022—before it won the 2022 National Outdoor Book Award in the “Journeys” category. The book is a memoir, but it’s also a book of grief, dedicated to Richie’s late father; it’s a book of adventure and friendship; a book of deep love and curiosity for an antisocial bird. The belted kingfisher is a bird about which there isn’t much written; so this book, then, is also, a gift and a testament to citizen science, to getting outside—and looking.

About Marina:

Marina Richie is a nature writer based in Bend, Oregon. She has worked as a journalist and managed communications for a number of wildlife-oriented public and private organizations. In addition to Halcyon Journey, she is the author of the children’s books Bird Feats of Montana and Bug Feats of Montana. Her articles and essays have appeared in Birdwatching Magazine, A.T. Journeys, Post Road Magazine, and many other publications.

Marina Richie recommends:

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard (Vintage Books)

Take Heart: Encouragement for Earth's Weary Lovers by Kathleen Dean Moore, illustrated by Bob Haverluck (Oregon State University Press)

Site Fidelity by Claire Boyles (W. W. Norton & Company)

Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction by David George Haskell (Viking Books)

I Have Been Assigned the Single Bird: A Daughter’s Memoir by Susan Cerulean, photographs by David Moynahan (Wormsloe Foundation Nature Books)

Dancing with an Apocalypse by Tom A. Titus (Coastal Giant Press)

On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor (Simon & Schuster)

Wild Spectacle: Seeking Wonders in a World Beyond Humans by Janisse Ray (Trinity University Press)

Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Biggest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght (Picador USA)

Breathless: A Thriller by Amy McCullough (Anchor Books)

Lauren Korn recommends:

Halcyon Journey: In Search of the Belted Kingfisher by Marina Richie, illustrated by Ram Papish (Oregon State University Press)

Marina’s Field Note, “Belted Kingfisher Community Science: A Head-Pounding Discovery,” which is a revised excerpt from Halcyon Journey (Montana Natural History Center)

...and this Field Note, too (originally broadcast in 1995): “Krummholz: Tough Trees at Timberline” (Montana Natural History Center)

Aerial Ramming, a Burrow Excavation Behavior by Belted Kingfishers, with a Review of its Occurrence among the Alcedinidae” by Paul Hendricks, Marina (Deborah) Richie, and Lisa M. Hendricks (The Wilson Journal of Ornithology)

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (Grove Press)

The Peregrine by J. A. Baker (New York Review of Books)

Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction by David George Haskell (Viking Books)

Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction by Michelle Nijhuis (W. W. Norton & Company)

The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water by Chris Dombrowski (Milkweed Editions)

BirdNote Daily, an interstitial radio program and podcast... About birds!

The team for this episode of The Write Question included Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Chris Moyles, co-producer, editor; and Alice Sauter, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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