Category: summer birds

Fall Warbler Migration

By , September 2, 2012 1:14 pm
Black-throated Green Warbler 8/31/12

Black-throated Green Warbler 8/31/12

My days off are now Friday and Saturday so that is when we expect to see the bulk of the birds each week. This week was no exception. We saw 33 different birds on Friday and 47 on Saturday. Friday was extra-special because we had our first appearance in the year for the Red-breasted Nuthatch and our first sighting in MN of the Black-throated Green Warbler. We also had a Nashville Warbler grace our yard. Not a rare bird but welcome all the same. Saturday we saw some of the same birds in Pillsbury State Forest (North of Pillager, MN). At home of Saturday we had a Pine Siskin snacking from the seeds on our driveway. I wasn’t totally sure I had a Siskin until I looked at my photos this morning.

Pine Siskin 9/1/2012

Pine Siskin

The Fall migration season seem to be starting just a tad early this year. Leaves are also turning early, though this is probably a response to the drought. The Fall foliage will probably be spottier than normal. Some patches of sumac that should be bright red are already a dull rust color.

We also have some confusing birds. I took photos on a local lake yesterday and I still cannot figure out what it is (might be several different birds). My fist assumption was a pied-billed grebe. I have been using the Crossley ID book as an aide. Still not sure. Below is a photo of 2 Swans, I think they are Trumpeter Swans but I will accept corrections if I am wrong.

Trumpeter Swans on a local lake  9/1/12

Trumpeter Swans on a local lake

Baby Birds: Life is Fragile but Life Can Be Tenacious

By , August 23, 2012 1:18 pm
barn swallow chicks

barn swallow chicks 8/9/12

I took this photo not knowing that over the next 2 days 2 of the chicks pictured would be found dead on the ground below the nest. One of these birds would leave the nest but hang around on the ground for a few days until it gained enough strength to finally fledge.

Barn Swallow chick

Barn Swallow chick

Barns Swallow 8/14/12

Barn Swallow 8/14/12

On Friday evening we saw this bird on the ground by Shawnne’s flower/vegetable garden. Both of us tried to place it in a safer location but the bird would have none of it. We were sure it was going to die, but next morning it was on the ground very much alive. Its parents were feeding it and chasing off probable attackers. Lucky for us there are no cats and that Sierra is long past chasing anything. After the bird left our front steps it was in the bushes by the driveway for a day or two. After that it seems to have fledged successfully.

Summer Slowdown

By , July 30, 2012 2:23 pm

Golden-winged Warbler 7/28/12

Golden-winged Warbler

It is just about the end of July. I’ve done the morning birds today and we’ve had 19 so far. Not a stellar beginning. The number of birds we see daily is decreasing. In June it was 36 per day, in July it has been 32 per day. In May it was almost 40 per day. During the Spring birds are off singing all day, with the end of breeding season the birds are singing far less frequently. We were hearing Yellow-throated Vireo screaming its head off every day, that has stopped. The House Wren is assuredly here but we aren’t hearing it every day.

Given the cost of gas we have just about stopped going to the state parks, since our days off are Friday and Saturday it makes no sense to try to see birds in crowded and noisy recreation areas. Since late June we have started to take drives in the evening to catch birds that should be here but whom we have rarely seen. We have managed to see the Boblink for the first time in years. We have seen our first Black Terns. We have seen the Dickcissel for the first time in MN (on a road we travel almost every time we leave home).

One never knows what to expect. A few weeks ago we saw a Scarlet Tanager on a road close to home. Just a few days ago we saw a Golden-winged Warbler across the street.

Black Tern 7/21/12

Black Tern

Bobolinks 7/25/12


Scarlet Tanager 7/7/12

Scarlet Tanager

Sandhill Crane 7/28/12

Sandhill Crane

bobolinks 7/28/12


Sometimes there really is no place like home.

By , July 8, 2012 1:27 pm

Dickcissel 7/2/12

Dickcissel 7/2/12

Gas prices are down but they are still 60 to 80 cents higher than in 2010. Summer weather is here and we don’t like taking long walks in the really hot weather. The state parks this time of year are crowded and noisy so we have been avoiding them. We have been taking short trips on local roads near our house and we have been surprised at how much good birding can be done in a short period within 5-10 miles of home. Just 2 days ago we saw a Black Tern only a few miles from home in a small secluded lake. This is not a rare bird, but you needs to be looking in the right habitat. Please excuse the poor photo but it was the best of the bunch.
Black Tern

Black Tern on Mud Lake

There is a road we travel every time we go North or East from our house (if we go to Brainerd, St Cloud, Little Falls etc.) so we have passed it numerous times in 23 months. Still just in the last 2 weeks we have seen Bobolinks, Dickcissels and a lone Savannah Sparrow. The Sparrow is easy to miss but the Bobolink is not and the Dickcissel sings loudly so if we had ever stepped out of the car I am sure we would have heard it.

Below is a picture of the Savannah Sparrow, it looks a lot like the Song but if you see it close up it is clearly different.

Savannah Sparrow 6/30/12

Savannah Sparrow 6/30/12

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

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