Category: spring weather

Great Day Birding at Grey Eagle Wildlife Management Area

By , May 18, 2012 9:26 pm

Jerry and I have been searching for new and lesser known areas to go birding.  Today we visited the Grey Eagle Wildlife Management Area.  It’s about 30 miles from where we live and it wasn’t too hard to find.  We walked in a field with scattered trees and suddenly heard Field Sparrows calling.  There is nothing like the sound of Field Sparrows!  Their haunting call sent chills up and down our spines.  There were several of them calling back and forth.  We also heard Yellow and Common Yellowthroat Warblers, along with spotting a Great Blue Heron fleeing from us.  We heard a Golden-winged Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow and Great-Crested Flycatcher, along with some other more common birds.  This habitat was a mix of fields and woods; there was a small lake at one end of the area as well.   The weather was very warm and windy for a Spring day; it was beautiful there.  We plan on returning to this area soon and exploring it further.

Welcome Zonotrichia!

By , May 10, 2012 6:15 pm

Harris's Sparrow

Harris's Sparrow 5/8/12

Why the odd title? Zonotrichia is the genus of 3 of our favorite migration sparrow: White-throated, White-crowned and Harris’s. Unlike most sparrow that are hard for the novice to identify these are very easy. When we lived in Randall, the only Zonotrichia we saw regularly was the White-throated. Since we moved to the Long Prairie area in 2010, all three have been regular visitors in both Spring and Fall. On a whim last May I told Shawnne that we should expect the Harris’s Sparrow the week of May 8-14, 2011 (based on only one previous sighthing in Randall in 2007 and based on the fact the we had them in the previous Octover). I told Shawnne that perhaps we should get a banner saying “Welcome Harris’s Sparrow” (similar to the Welcome Fisherman banners that bars have in Minnesota). In any event the Sparrows came back that year. This year we had a bunch of early migrators in March but since the start of April most of the birds seem to be back on their normal schedule. The White-crowned came on 4/16/12, the White-throated on 5/1/12 and the Harris’s on 5/8/12. So far yesterday was the only day we have seen all of them at one time (haven’t been able to get all of them in one photo, though).
White-throated Sparrow 5/9/12

White-throated Sparrow 5/9/12


White-crowned Sparrow 5/9/12

White-crowned Sparrow 5/9/12

Waiting for Warblers and Sparrows

By , April 30, 2012 5:04 pm
Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler 4/26/12

April was a disappointment. We had a rush of birds coming in during the middle of March until the end. That coincided with unexectedly warm weather. 35 birds made their first appearance for 2012 in March. We expected more for April. We were hoping to get a larger group of Wood Warblers earlier than we did. We had only 3 early Warblers: the Yellow-rumped, the Yellow and the Tennessee. April 2011 had been a very good birding month, April 2012 only brought 14 new birds.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow 4/25/12

That does not mean we weren’t busy. We saw about 29 birds per day. We did have one new bird (new for us anyway). We saw a Lark Sparrow in Lake Maria State Park on 4/25/12.

Last fall we setup a second post for a Bluebird house and it appears that we have a breeding pair this year. Now that May is at hand we are expecting a very busy month.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Brown Thrasher 4/23/12

Brown Thrasher

Osprey 4/24/12

Osprey

White-throated Sparrow 4/29/12

White-throated Sparrow

Crane Meadows in April 2012

By , April 16, 2012 8:21 pm

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

With the early start of the Spring migration we decided to visit one of the local birding hotspots, Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. It is easily located off Highway 10 just south of Little Falls, MN. It is one of our favorite places because it is close to home so it doesn’t require too much advance preparation. This was our third visit this Spring and the most successful one yet. We spent about 90 minutes there. The weather was warm and both of us were sweating after only a few minutes (and not from exertion). We saw 23 different species but nothing out of the ordinary. Depending on your point of view the best bird of the day was either the Greater Yellowlegs (a bird I haven’t seen in MN before) or the Blue-winged Teal. We met another couple birding and they saw a few more ducks than we did.

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

It is still early in the season, the bugs are still not overpowering. We are looking forward to the latter parts of April and Early May when the Warblers will be abundant.

A busy March continues

By , March 29, 2012 6:51 pm
Bufflehead pair

Bufflehead pair 3/21/12

The very warm weather we had in mid March has ended. Even though feels a lot cooler, it is hardly cold.  So we have been taking short birding trips whenever we can. We went to Crow Wing State Park on Saturday 3/24/12. In a typical year the park would still be snow covered. Last Saturday I was warm while wearing a very light jacket.

Great Blue Heron Flying By

Great Blue Heron Flying By


We have taken trips to view the local lakes to see if we are getting any ducks. We saw Buffleheads off County Rd 1 a week and a half ago (and we have posted a photo of that event above). We saw our first Eastern Phoebe on March 21st which is about 2 weeks early. On our lake we are seeing a few different ducks each day. We have seen Wood ducks flying over the lake. We had a Greater Scaup on Sunday. None of these were close enough for photos. Today a Hooded Merganser pair swam by our side of the lake and we did manage a few shots. We are getting other we habitat birds. We have been hearing Sandhill Cranes almost every day and we have seen them a few times too. We saw our first Great Blue Heron of the season last Saturday.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser 3/29/12

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler 3/29/12

An Early and Warm Start to Spring

By , March 16, 2012 8:16 pm

It is suddenly and so completely spring. The mean temperature for the first 9 says of March was 24.2 and the mean temperature for the next 7 has been 47.0. The Spring birds are on the move.  In the last week we have seen the first appearance of a bunch of favorites:

Eastern Bluebird 3/14/12

Eastern Bluebird 3/14/12

Eastern Bluebird 3/14/12

Fox Sparrow 3/14/12
Killdeer 3/14/12
Northern Harrier 3/14/12
Sandhill Crane 3/14/12
Song Sparrow 3/14/12
Purple Finch 3/13/12
House Finch 3/13/12
Barred Owl 3/13/12
American Robin 3/12/12
Common Grackle 3/11/12
Red-shouldered Hawk 3/9/12

We put opened up one Bluebird house earlier this week and erected another house in the back of the property we rent.  Once the ice melts on the lake we can expect a good bunch of ducks, geese and swans. We have already heard a few swans but haven’t been close enough to identify them.

Below is a photo of an immature Bald Eagle taken at Crane Meadows in Little Falls. We have been seeing Eagles all winter but here is the first photo I have been able to get in years.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle taken 3/14/12

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