Miyoko Chu, senior director of communications at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

by | Mar 22, 2023

Miyoko Chu– senior director of communications at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology—recalls an outing at age 10 or so with her father, to San Francisco’s Chinatown, where they performed a spontaneous rescue of two pigeons, a transformative experience that was pivotal to triggering her lifelong love of birds.Over time, that love translated to an academic interest, including work in the field researching birds, and pursuing her Ph.D chiefly focussed on studying a bird in the Southwest desert called the Phainopepla. But The Cornell Lab of Ornithology—a member-supported operation of Cornell University that studies birds and other wildlife (but mostly birds)–swooped in and snatched Chu away from academia. It’s a move that appears to be a winner for both sides: Chu arrived at The Lab in 2001, and is still on the job, enthusiastically working there in Ithica, New York, describing its founding in 1915 and ensuing history, as well as explaining the various ways technology have been a boon to The Lab’s members (the Merlin app, etc.), researchers (McCaulaylibrary.org, etc.), and other factions of their broad constituency. Chu responds to a couple of questions I pose that I invited a friend, Stephanie Seymour—a passionate, veteran birder—to submit.  Including what kinds of programs The Lab offers to appeal to young birders and conservationists…and are there any programs that reach out to inner city people of all ages? Chu outlines the various ways The Cornell Lab operation is funded. And how she feels, as a birder for multiple decades, on those rare occasions when she spots a bird she’s never seen—drawing on a recent experiencing with a Short-eared Owl. [Photo of Great Gray Owl by Ruben Marchena] (https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home/, https://www.facebook.com/cornellbirds, https://www.instagram.com/cornellbirds/)


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Farmer Minor, who was slated to host an event at Oldsmar Library on Friday, March 24, called “Pig Out On Reading With Farmer Minor & Daisy.” He clarified that the “Farmer” part of his name stems from growing up on a farm (in Bridgeport, Conn.), and explains that he’d been working in the corporate world when he did his first session reading to kids. He’s never looked back, dumping the corporate gig (and suit & tie), and now—some 20 years later–travels the country in an RV to libraries, schools and other locations for these sessions featuring reading, storytelling, a pig called Daisy, and a pug named Dixie Cup. He also notes that while he once used a website to present his performance schedule, now folks can inquire about where he and the animals will be appearing—or explore the possibility of booking an appearance—by emailing: [email protected]

COMEDY CORNER: Joe Zimmerman’s “Animal Attacks” (http://www.zimmermancomedy.com/)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE:  We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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