Category: bird migration

Birds that you don’t usually get at feeders

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By , April 18, 2013 10:05 pm
Northern Flickers  4/18/13

Northern Flicker 4/18/13

This has been a very cold and snowy Spring. Today we had about 6″ of snow so far and that is very unusual for this time in April.  We still have a snow cover of over 10″. Just 2 weeks ago the ground was bare in many places. Birds like Robins and the Northern Flickers had started to showing up, so we naturally assumed the weather was going to improve. It did not.    In the last 8 days we have gotten 18″ of snow. Some of that has already melted, but tonight we have 7″ and more still coming.  

The Robin eats mostly works and grubs, the Flicker eats ants and beetles.  Naturally none of that food is available if the ground is snow covered. So we have seen both a Robin and a Flicker at our suet feeder.  In all my years birding, I have never seen them eating out of a feeder. But of these birds do eat seeds and fruit in the Winter, but I doubt they had expected to see snow on the ground after their trip North.

American Robin 4/18/13

American Robin 4/18/13

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

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

Spring perhaps? Well, not quite, but it is coming.

By , March 1, 2013 11:21 pm

horned lark

Horned Lark 3/2/2013

We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Spring looks like it is on the way.   Like all people who live in Minnesota, we are used to Winter weather.  Like most Minnesotans, we tire of it long before it is over.   After a very normal, that is cold, Winter, the signs of Spring are finally visible.   Last week, the man who sells us wood, saw a Robin near Sibley State Park.  Yesterday, in our first attempt to look for birds in quite some time, we saw a Horned Lark. In fact we saw at least 3 groups of Horned Larks.   That was a first for both of us.   We haven’t had any other migrators yet, but one is better than zero.

Sunset is now after 6pm, so the days much longer now.  The weather is getting warmer.  We are seeing highs in the mid and upper 30’s on most days now.  We both have Spring fever.

Today we made another attempt to see birds and saw what was probably 20-30 Horned Larks in at least 3 different places along the road.

horned lark

Horned Lark 3/2/2013

horned lark

Horned Lark 3/2/2013

Favorite Photos of 2012 – pt 3 – Sandhill Cranes

By , January 9, 2013 6:52 pm
Sandhill Cranes 3/21/12

Sandhill Cranes 3/21/12

The only crane we see in Minnesota is the Sandhill Crane. There are very common in this part of MN and if you don’t see them you can usually here them. From the deck of the house we rent, we can often hear them in the evening and I am sure if we could magically remove the trees, they would appear just South of us in the meadow below Lake Beauty.  The picture to you left was taken along County Rd 1  in Morrison County.

These birds are hard to get close to and take a really sharp picture but I had one reasonably sharp on in mid April. That picture is below and it was taken also along County Rd 1 in Morrison County.

Sandhill Cranes 4/11/12

Sandhill Cranes 4/11/12

The last picture was taken on Sunday May 13, 2012 when we were out looking for some local Wildlife Management Areas.

Crane 5/13/12

Crane 5/13/12

A slow December

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By , December 14, 2012 12:20 am
Pine Grosbeak 12/2/2012

Pine Grosbeak 12/2/2012

It is hardly news that our December has been a slow bird month.   The lake is finally frozen so the last of the water fowl have gone.   Both the number of birds we see on any day and that variety available are drastically reduced. Even the Red-winged Blackbirds that were so prominent last year have almost entirely abandoned us.  (It does save on suet and seed.)  We have had at least one surprise. Yesterday we saw a Rough-legged Hawk while on our way to Long Prairie.

As far as what we can photograph the Pine Grosbeak has been the best bird in December (and one of the best for the entire year). I am also posting photos of the Red-breasted Nuthatch and the Common Redpoll.

Red-breasted Nuthatch 12/8/2012

Red-breasted Nuthatch 12/8/2012

Common Redpoll 12/13/2012

Common Redpoll 12/13/2012

November 2012 summary

By , November 30, 2012 8:07 pm
American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

November is always slow birding months and this November was no exception. We saw on 37 different bird species this month. Last November we only saw 36. Our best birding day was November 3rd when we saw 19 species and we saw 18 birds on both the 20th and 30th. We had no day when we saw less than 10 different birds.   We had one new bird that we new for us, the Pine Grosbeak and we saw them on Nov 14th and today, Nov 30th.  Our run of early Redpolls continues.  We are seeing Pine Siskins almost every other day.  We are getting groups of Juncos almost every day  now.

Beauty Lake has frozen over but that hasn’t really changed the bird count. It only changed what kind of birds we will see. We were driving past a few local ponds and streams over the last few months. Now that they are frozen we have stopped doing that. So, our birding will be almost exclusively local until Spring.

We did have a good birding day today. We saw a group of Pine Grosbeaks (no pictures of course). We had a Red-tailed Hawk hanging about (and not the least bit bothering the Redpolls).

 

Common Redpolls 11/28/12

Common Redpolls 11/28/12

Pine Grosbeaks

By , November 15, 2012 1:36 pm

Pine Grosbeaks on Lake Beauty 11/14/2012

Pine Grosbeaks on Lake Beauty

One of the great joys of birdwatching is the possibility of seeing a bird that you haven’t seen before or having the opportunity to see well a bird you only glimpsed momentarily. This year we had seen 2 new birds: the Lark Sparrow and the Black Tern. Just yesterday we added a third. I managed to see 2 Pine Grosbeaks in our neighbors yard and at the boat landing on Lake Beauty. The birds are normal fall and winter visitors to this part of the world but we had never seen them before. I would normally expect them in late December or January (following the pattern of Redpolls who usually come in January) but this year we have already had a Common Redpoll showing up at our feeder.

I don’t know how long we will see them or if yesterday was a one off appearance.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak 11/14/2012

Late October Birds 2012

By , October 30, 2012 2:15 pm
Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans on Pillager Lake

It is almost the end of October. We spotted 52 different species so far this month. Early Fall is over, the last warbler of the season, the Yellow-rumped left us on Oct 22. We still have 2 White-throated Sparrows that seem almost determined to stay, but I am sure they will gone to soon. The late fall birds are here. Fox Sparrows have started to show up, almost every day. We have started seeing American Tree Sparrow. Mostly they have come to the lake landing, but I hope they visit our feeders. Red-breasted Nuthatches and Siskins have been regular visitors for the last few weeks. I have no idea if they will stay through November but it is nice to see them.

The lake will be frozen by the end of November so we are using every opportunity to see visiting waterfowl. We have had the odd Swan or 2 since September. Today there must have been 10 or so, Trumpeter Swans, far enough away to make identication difficult. We are getting Wood Ducks and Pied-billed Grebes every day.

Pine Siskins

Pine Siskins

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Fox and  White-throated Sparrows

Fox and White-throated

Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow

Mid October Bird Slowdown

By , October 18, 2012 1:45 pm
White-crowned Sparrow in a group of Juncos

White-crowned Sparrow

The October slowdown in bird observations is in full swing. The trees have lost most of their leaves. The migrating warblers may be done. I saw one Yellow-rumped Warbler yesterday but the noisy active flocks are gone. Our migrating Sparrows are slowing down. From multiples of White-throated that have been visible for a few weeks were are left with stragglers. So, today I saw one White-throated Sparrow and one Harris’s Sparrow. I took my last photo of a White-crowned for the season on Monday.

Common Loons

Common Loons 10/16/12

There are many birds that nest in Minnesota that avoid busy lakes during the summer. Now that our lake is more or less empty we are starting to see those birds more regularly. We actually been seeing Swans irregularly since early September. The loons have lost their summer plumage and are ready for winter. When I walk Sierra in the afternoon. I usually manage to scare a Wood Duck or two.

For the last week or so Red-breasted Nuthatches have been active in our yard. They are not too skittish but they have a habit of grabbing some food and running for cover so they don’t linger at the feeder for long. They are visible in Minnesota most of the year but only erratically at our feeders. So, we don’t know how long this visit will be but we will enjoy it while it lasts.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Harris's Sparrow

Harris’s Sparrow

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

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