Sadly, with a recent change, most Nature Futures flash stories were put behind a paywall. I feel very fortunate my “Birding With My Human” literally just came out in Cast of Wonders and is available to read & listen for free.

When this story originally came out in Nature Futures in July 2021, I wrote some notes on its inspiration. Since those notes are also no longer freely accessible, I’m reposting them here:


The setting of the story is a real location in Lempäälä, Finland, where I sometimes go birding. There’s the lake (Ahtialanjärvi), Gull Island (Lokkisaari), and a fancy new bird tower. I borrowed almost all the birds and their behaviour for my story from my personal sightings and experiences at this place. After all, it’s where the inspiration first struck me.

I was climbing the steps of the bird tower when I randomly thought of a person going birding with an android or a robot, and how handy it would be. The tower stands far enough from the island that you can’t see almost anything without some serious zoom, and even then, it’s a challenge to find the birds you’re there to see. My birding efforts often feel stumbling at best, yet that’s part of the fun.

As for the artificial nest of the western marsh harrier, it’s already a reality. A considerable effort has gone into preserving and improving the lake area – a Natura 2000 protected site — for waders and other birds. Similar efforts take place every day around the world. While I love that people do this, it’s alarming that it needs doing at all.

All the more reason to enjoy the birds around us today.


As a bonus, here are some photos of the island & lake:

Yes, that’s the grey heron. It’s real. 🙂