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Laura Erickson holds a long-eared owl that was banded at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory last year. She also observed a long-eared owl in the wild, one of 593 species she saw in 2013. (Lisa Johnson photo)

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Duluth birder and birding author Laura Erickson has won the Roger Tory Peterson Award from the American Birding Association for "a lifetime of achievements in promoting the cause of birding," according to the association. She's the author of several books on birding and hosts the long-running "For the Birds" radio program. She also writes a blog that features photos of birds. She writes a column for BirdWatching magazine and is a contributor to the American Birding

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Association blog.

Erickson is the first woman to receive the Roger Tory Peterson Award, the ABA's highest award. Peterson was the author of the "Peterson Field Guide to the Birds of North America."

"When I was a college student, my mother-in-law gave me binoculars and the 'Peterson Field Guide to Birds' for Christmas," Erickson said. "They opened the most amazing world to me, and ever since, I've made it my goal to open up that world to everyone else. I'm thrilled beyond measure that the American Birding Association gave me this honor, named for the very man whose field guide was the first I ever opened -- my passport into the world of birds."

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