Black-backed Woodpecker

Boreal Chickadees. Ruffed Grouse. Black-backed Woodpeckers. Even in the off-season, a trip to the Adirondacks promises a bevy of delights for the downstate birder. And so I’m headed there for two weeks, starting tomorrow. What’s the first thing I’m going to do when I get there? Write an essay about the strange and wonderful urban Rock Pigeon, of course.

Even for me, perhaps, that seems a little eccentric. But the main purpose of the Anne LaBastille Memorial Writing Residency is, as the name suggests, writing. For me, the main purpose is to finally get started on my long-promised paen to urban nature. Yes, the promised Big Year aspect of the book, and the year, got derailed by health concerns at the most critical point in April. But I’m back, I’m rocking the binoculars once again, and isn’t every year a big year, really, when you think about it?

So it’s happening. I’m retreating to the mountains, to the very home base of Mama Poc herself, thanks to the incredible generosity of the good folks at the Adirondack Writing Center. Along with five other writers I’ll be scribbling in bucolic luxury, working without modern distractions to put together the very best sample chapters the world has ever seen. There will even be a public reading of our work on October 17, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

And of course I’ll manage to squeeze some birding in as well. I am finally going to see a Black-backed Woodpecker, darn it.

Black-Backed Woodpecker by Ryan Hagerty, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Written by Carrie
Carrie Laben, after years of writing and birding in New York, moved to Montana to pursue her two great passions more effectively. She recently graduated with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Montana in Missoula. When she is not cranking out essays and speculative fiction stories, or wandering around on mountains failing to see the birds she is looking for, she is likely to be drinking one of the many fine local microbrews or attending a potluck with something from the local farmer’s market in hand. On Mondays from 3 to 3:30 Mountain Time you can find her answering questions about birds on live chat at