Category: bird photos

Spring Migration Nearing its Peak

By , May 22, 2013 3:33 pm
Bobolink 5/21/13

Bobolink 5/21/13

This has been a very late Spring. The migration of the birds was much later and slower than normal. Some birds that were early last year, such as the Eastern Bluebird, came later and in much smaller numbers than expected. Other birds, such as the Zonotrichia Sparrow, were more or less on time, and very well welcomed by us and other birders.

The Warblers have started to show up all over the place, even if not in the numbers we would hope for. The highlight for us would be the Cape May Warbler. We don’t get them every year so they are always welcomed. Some of the best birds this Spring have been birds we haven’t gotten good photos of or any photos at all. We saw a Black-billed Cuckoo a few days ago, no photo. Shawnne heard a Golden-winged Warbler, no photo.

Baltimore Orioles have been numerous and noisy. Always welcome here. We’ve been getting Pine Warblers at our suet feeder, the bugs must be in short supply. The top photo is a Bobolink. They have just started to come in and we should see them all summer. Most of the photos were

Palm Warbler 5/10/13

Palm Warbler 5/10/13

Clay-colored Sparrow 5/16/13

Clay-colored Sparrow 5/16/13

Cape May Warbler 5/18/13

Cape May Warbler 5/18/13

Indigo Bunting 5/19/13

Indigo Bunting 5/19/13

Eastern Kingbird 5/19/13

Eastern Kingbird 5/19/13

American Redstart 5/16/13

American Redstart 5/16/13

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/19/13

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 5/19/13

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 5/14/13

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 5/14/13

Our favorite time of year

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By , May 5, 2013 10:22 pm
Redheads with Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals 5/2/13

Redheads with Blue-winged and Green-winged Teals 5/2/13

The Winter is finally over, really really really over. It is our favorite time of the year, the Spring Migration. Fall is fun but Spring is easier because we aren’t trying to identify green or brown birds hiding behind green or brown leaves.  The migration is picking up.  Since our last post we had ducks coming through.  Our lakes are still frozen so the ducks were all in temporary ponds that are created from the Spring snow melt.   We have seen some ducks that we hadn’t seen before in Minnesota.  Last Thursday we saw  a large group of Redheads in one of the ponds.  In the same ponds we saw both Teals and the American Wigeon.

The Sparrows are still coming in.  Since our last post the White-crowned and Lincoln’s Sparrow have come in. They were still here as this evening. We only await the Harris’s Sparrow to have all the Zonotrichia (at least all that come to MN). Our short local bird runs are becoming more fruitful every day. Just yesterday we saw a Savannah Sparrow and a Red-shouldered Hawk (but no photos, sorry). Shortly we expect a rush of Warblers, Vireos and everything else.

White-crowned Sparrow 5/5/13

White-crowned Sparrow 5/5/13

Lincoln's Sparrow 5/2/13

Lincoln’s Sparrow 5/2/13

Sapsucker 5/5/13

Sapsucker 5/5/13

Yellow-rumped Warbler 5/5/13

Yellow-rumped Warbler 5/5/13

Lovely to see you again

By , April 28, 2013 5:23 pm

There is a Moody Blues song with this title which is so appropriate at this time of the year, more so than usual this year. Last year Spring came early and some birds, like the Red-winged Blackbirds, never left for the Winter. This year Spring has been very late, some birds, like the Bluebirds, that we expect to see in numbers have barely appeared. Real Spring weather started to arrive this Friday, when we hit a high of 64. We have taken advantage of the change to drive around and look at all the birds we have been missing. We have had 14 birds make their first appearance of the year. Below is a list of the birds and the dates for each:

White-throated   Sparrow 4/26/2013

Lark Sparrow 4/26/13

Lark Sparrow 4/26/13

Pine Siskin 4/26/2013
Lesser Yellowlegs 4/26/2013
Hooded Merganser 4/26/2013
Northern Shoveler 4/26/2013
Vesper Sparrow 4/26/2013
Lark Sparrow 4/26/2013
Chipping Sparrow 4/26/2013
Tree Swallow 4/26/2013
Brown Thrasher 4/27/2013
Great Egret 4/27/2013
Field Sparrow 4/27/2013
Clay-colored Sparrow 4/28/2013
Barn Swallow 4/28/2013

Anyone who watches birds knows that their migration cannot be stopped but emotionally it was easy to believe they would never come. In any event, real Spring has arrived. The birds are moving in, some with just be passing through and some are here for the summer.

Field Sparrow 4/27/13

Field Sparrow 4/27/13

Lesser Yellowlegs 4/26/13

Lesser Yellowlegs 4/26/13

Ospreys 4/27/13

Ospreys 4/27/13

Wood Duck and Hoodded Merganser

Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser

An Early Thrush

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By , April 21, 2013 12:58 am

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

The weather this afternoon was sunny and mild, at least it was mild for this particular April even if it was quite below normal. We decided to do an afternoon bird run. We saw a Hermit Thrush. This is a bird this is common in Spring, but it is not one that usually stops in your back yard. We were driving along county road 31 not too far from home and we were just lucky enough to see it. This was only the second time I have seen it in Minnesota. Again it isn’t a rare bird, but it doesn’t frequent backyards and you need to look for it.

We saw the usual suspects for Minnesota: Horned Larks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Sandhill Cranes, Trumpeter Swans. We saw our first Osprey. The local lake isn’t open yet, so I wonder where he/she will find his/her dinner.

Osprey

Osprey

Mid April Birds Still Coming in Very Slowly

By , April 17, 2013 10:02 pm
Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

It is now past mid April and our birds are coming in very slowly. I don’t think I have seen a single Bluebird on my daily walks with Molly. Still it is Spring and the birds are arriving even if our ground isn’t ready. We are seeing ducks not on lakes or ponds but in free standing water from the melting snow. Shawnne saw something a few days ago, probably a Merganser, but she wasn’t able to get a good look at it. Today we saw both our first Wood Duck and Blue-winged Teals of the season. It is a very soft picture but it was the best I could get.

We are getting some larger birds, birds one expects on lakes, on the melted snow. Today we saw Tundra Swans along with a bunch of ducks and geese on that standing water.

At our feeder at home we have started getting Fox Sparrows. We’ve seen the since the 7th, the photo below is from April 13th. We are expecting a major thaw once this weeks storm ends. That should begin the heavy migration. (We hope.)

Tundra Swans

Tundra Swans

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Finally a respectable day birding

By , April 6, 2013 10:57 pm
Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark 4/6/2013

Yesterday we took a side trip on the way to our normal Friday food shopping. We saw a few birds, in particular we saw a Meadowlark that we could not fully identify.  We decided to take a short trip this afternoon on our local back roads in the hope that we would be lucky enough to find the Meadowlark and determine what is was: Eastern or Western.   We were lucky. We saw 2 Meadowlarks on the same road and we saw them well enough to give them a name: Eastern Meadowlark.  Our photo isn’t very good, we weren’t as close as we would like but it does fully show the head clearly enough to identify it.

After that is was a fantastic, if short birding trip.  We saw hundreds of Robins, and they were making a lot of noise.  I don’t know if I have every seen so many Robins at once. We were on the same roads yesterday and we didn’t see that much at all.  It is amazing how different one day can be from another. We saw a few Horned Larks but not as many as before. I guess the many we saw a few weeks ago are moving North.  We saw Killdeer, they aren’t a bird we get a home so we need to catch them were they live.  We saw our first Eastern Phoebe of the year.  I wasn’t expecting them yet since there aren’t that many flies out yet.   We saw on Bald Eagle on County Rd 1, not all that uncommon but still fun to see one.  One the way back home on a road we travel almost every day we saw 2 Trumpeter Swans, 2 Sandhill Cranes and a few Canada Geese.  All birds we would expect to see on open water, but we don’t have any open water yet.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

They birds are slowly coming back

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By , March 30, 2013 5:43 pm
Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Today we saw our first Red-winged Blackbird of the season. I imagine that we will be sick of them in a few weeks, but today we were pleased to see them.  We only had one at our feeders today, but one is a start.   Last year they never left for the Winter so there was nothing to welcome back.  The winter weather has finally broken. We had our first 50 degree day only yesterday. In this part of Minnesota that mean muddy roads and wet basements.  We heat with wood and the ground where we store the wood outside is a muddy mess.  If we were closer to the Mississippi that might even mean real flooding but we are quite far away.

The birds are coming back slowly. We have started seeing Canada Geese. House Finch started showing up a little more than a week ago.  Sandhill Cranes showed up in Morrison County a few weeks ago, here we saw them on Thursday.  This is a poor start when compared with last year but one has to accept the weather one gets.

We should be getting Bluebirds soon. Once the lake starts opening up  we will see ducks and loons.  (We are already seeing Mallards closer to Saint Cloud.) After that we hope to see Sparrows and Warblers.

 

House Finch and a Chickadee

House Finch and a Chickadee 3/29/2013

House Finch

By , March 23, 2013 6:00 pm
House Finch 3/22/13

House Finch 3/22/13

We keep waiting and hoping to see sings of Spring. In particular we are hoping to see the Spring birds come in. A few days ago we saw a few Red Crossbills, but nothing else. So, it was with particular pleasure that we had a male House Finch at our feeder yesterday afternoon. We had last seen one November 19th last year. Usually they come in March. In 2008 we saw them as early as March 2nd. Last year which had an extremely early Spring, they came in on March 13th.

Today on our drive we saw Wild Turkeys and Horned Larks. We still wonder why we never saw them before. They can blend in with the vegetation but they are so active it is almost impossible to miss them. The Turkeys we seem to find in the same place on the back roads on our way to Little Falls. (Love the manure smell, another less pleasant reminder of Spring and the coming planting season.)

Horned Lark 3/23/13

Horned Lark 3/23/13

Wild Turkeys 3/23/13

Wild Turkeys 3/23/13

More signs of Spring

By , March 10, 2013 1:52 pm
Female Cardinal 3/9/13

Female Cardinal 3/9/13

Yesterday we had more snow. In fact we had 3 inches of heavy wet snow that has now become patches of ice in our driveway. Still there are continued signs of Spring. The male Northern Cardinal has started singing. In the past few days we have seen the female along with him. Cardinals here are very skittish so I have to take pictures behind 3 layers of glass. Hence the photos are a bit soft.

4 Red Crossbills at the suet feeder

4 Red Crossbills at the suet feeder 3/10/2013

Horned Lark 3/6/13

Horned Lark 3/6/13

Today Shawnne woke me up to say she thought she saw a Pine Grosbeak in our yard. She was close, it was a Red Crossbill. Neither of us had ever seen one before so it was a treat for us. There were at least four of them and they were among the many Common Redpolls. I have posted one photo of the four at the suet feeder. Again it is a bit soft but it show them clearly.

The Crossbills are just passing through but the Horned Larks we saw last week are going to be resident here. So I have one more photo taken on Wednesday 3/6/13. Doesn’t he have an angry face?

So few birds these days – when will spring come?

By , February 18, 2013 1:44 pm
Redpolls on Valentine's Day

Redpolls on Valentine’s Day

I am a compulsive record keeper. When I had a large record collection, it was recorded on the pc.  I try to record local weather data, and except for days when equipment is down,  I have been successful in that.   Along with my wife we are both active birders and we use the computer to keep records.   From 1996-2004, I let the recording go but once we moved to MN in 2004 I started it back up.  Since we moved to the Long Prairie area in 2010, we have made every effort to be more consistent and more complete.  We try to make a record of almost all the birds we see.  We do leave out a few, we don’t record the common Pigeon and we don’t record the House Sparrow, a bird which has been the bane of our existence.

Right now it is still winter, but the harshest days have past. Still from a birding standpoint this is about the lowpoint of the year.  A good day for us is 10 birds, Today we may see 8 different species. Even common birds, those that winter over, are missing. We’ve only seen the Goldfinch 18 days this year.  Perhaps the Redpolls are chasing it away.  The Bald Eagle is a bird we don’t ordinarily see in the coldest part of the year, but last year was a warm winter and we saw it multiple times. This winter we have only recorded it once and that was in St Cloud.

I am tired of Winter, my wife is tired too.  We are using a lot of wood. A load that might last 3 weeks in the early December, probably lasts 10 days at the coldest point of the season.  It isn’t just the expense of the wood,  I am tired of splitting wood each day.   My hands are aching and my shoulder is sore.   I have just worn out another pair of work gloves (quality on common items is a thing of the past).   I know that Winter is nearly at an end, but my patience with Winter is also at an end. I have uploaded a picture of a group of Common Redpolls for your enjoyment.

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