Category: monthly summary

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

Migrating birds for September

By , September 23, 2012 12:48 pm
Swamp Sparrow 9/19/2012

Swamp Sparrow 9/19/2012

The number of birds we see on any day has declined but there are surprises on almost every day.   The falls birds are coming earlier than usual.  The White-throated Sparrows are about 3 weeks early.  The Fox Sparrows, which usually come in October have already shown up.  We have had some birds we have never seen at home.  On the 19th we had a Swamp Sparrow. I looked at the images and if I can trust the Crossley ID book it comes closer to a Swamp Sparrow than anything else. Today we had a Marsh Wren.  I had assumed all the local wrens were gone. We are expecting and looking forward to the Harris’s Sparrow and White-crowned Sparrow. Given the strange weather we have had this year one can hardly make a prediction but they can show up at any time.

Every time we see something new or unusual we wonder how many birds we miss each day. I know there are sparrows out there that I never see. Somedays we don’t look at the lake and I am sure we miss ducks or gulls or even eagles.

Marsh Wren 9/23/2012

Marsh Wren 9/23/2012

Franklin's Gulls 9/15/12

Franklin’s Gulls Overhead 9/15/12

Bobolinks and a slow June

By , June 27, 2012 12:50 pm

male Bobolink 6/22/12


June is almost over and while we have seen a lot of birds, migration season is over and there are few surprises. With all the trees being fully covered in leaves the birds that were so easy to spot in early May are now almost invisible. So, I have been hearing a Redstart but not seeing one. Some birds that are here every day Winter and early Spring are not coming to our feeders. So we aren’t seeing Blue Jays or Chickadees everyday. Even Goldfinch can be scarce. There are no more migrating birds. We had 45 birds show up in May but we only have had 3 birds make their first appearance in June: Pine Warbler, Bobolink and American White Pelican. The Pelican was a gift we were visiting friends in Buffalo, MN and saw a flock overhead.

For the first time in a few years we have seen a Bobolink. Last Friday we saw 2 or 3 on the fence on a local road (a road we pass everytime we go to Little Falls). Shawnne and I had discussed birds that we should see but do not. We live in a rural area and we should see Western Meadowlarks and Bobolinks on a regular basis. We last saw both birds in 2007 shortly before I left for Memphis, TN. We used to take drives in the early evening to see local birds and we need to start doing that again on a regular basis. In any event I have posted a photo of a male Bobolink taken on Friday 6/22/12.

Bobolink 6/22/12

Bobolink 6/22/12

May 2012 Summary

By , June 3, 2012 1:15 pm

Osprey 5/18/12

Osprey 5/18/12

May was a fantastic month for birding. We identified 99 different species, 84 of them on our own street. We had 2 days where we identified over 50 birds and the average per day was 39 birds. In short a very busy month and a very good month. Most of that success is due to the fact that we simply spend a lot of time outdoors looking for birds. We are also more systematic about it. We have a printed spreadsheet of possible birds that we use as a checklist each day. We use our database to estimate what birds we should be seeing. We have a digital recorder so we can listen to songs of birds that we didn't quite identify in the field. We also have had the good luck to be looking when a few fantastic birds stopped by (it was purely luck that had us out looking when the Yellow-headed Blackbird appeared).

If we have a favorite from May it is either the Canada Warbler or the Yellow-headed Blackbird.

Yellow-headed Blackbird 5/1/12

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Brown Thrasher 5/20/12

Brown Thrasher

Common Loon 5/18/12

Common Loon

Canada Warbler 5/11/12

Canada Warbler

Common Yellowthroat 5/31/12

Common Yellowthroat

Bay-breasted Warbler 5/12/12

Bay-breasted Warbler

Baltimore Oriole 5/4/12

Baltimore Oriole

Cedwar Waxwing 5/14/12

Cedwar Waxwing

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