Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

Those Nutty Nuthatches

December 1, 2010

08/23/10 — Gunflint Trail, Minnesota — It was a hot and windy day so we opted to hang out around camp instead of going out in the canoe. The Nuthatches were my entertainment for the day. It’s fun to watch them flutter around pine cones, picking out seeds and bringing them to another tree. Their calls sound like nasal beeps.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch was just one of the species involved in entertaining me on vacation. Here is the list of birds I saw on our week-long camping trip at the edge of the Boundary Waters. (One thing I’ve learned about birders is that they like to make lists.)

  1. White-throated Sparrow
  2. Cedar Waxwing
  3. American Robin
  4. Black-capped Chickadee
  5. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  6. Dark-eyed Junco
  7. Gray Jay
  8. Common Grackle
  9. American Crow
  10. Common Raven
  11. Ring-billed Gull
  12. Hairy Woodpecker
  13. Northern Flicker
  14. Pileated Woodpecker
  15. Common Nighthawk
  16. Common Loon
  17. Hooded Merganser
  18. Mallard
  19. Turkey Vulture
  20. Osprey
  21. Bald Eagle

Hello Mr. Flicker

November 18, 2010

Boy, birdwatching couldn’t get much better than this—from the comfort of my own home! First the Pileated Woodpecker; now the Northern Flicker. This is a male Flicker, identified by his handsome black mustache. The other day a squirrel was poking his head out of this tree cavity. I wonder who will stop by next?

Loony Behavior

November 7, 2010

This juvenile Common Loon splashes clumsily around an adult loon. My guess is that it is learning to fly. What do you think?

08/23/2010, Gull Lake, Gunflint Trail, Minnesota

Hello Mr. Pileated Woodpecker

October 30, 2010

As I was eating my breakfast this morning I looked out the window and was surprised and delighted to see a Pileated Woodpecker. At 19 inches, this is Minnesota’s largest woodpecker. They are supposedly quite shy around people. This one was a male, as noted by his red mustache. He stayed for 30 minutes excavating a hole in the neighbor’s silver maple tree, probably looking for carpenter ants. In the afternoon he returned for ten minutes. Additional photos on Flickr.

Pelicans Visit the Fish Market

February 21, 2010


Dock at Ancón, near Lima, Peru

Crater Lake

September 21, 2009

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, June 21, 2009. And I thought Minnesota winters were long!

My First Cedar Waxwing

April 13, 2009
Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org

I spotted my first Cedar Waxwing—ever. A year ago I had never heard of this bird, and now I can say I’ve seen dozens of them. Yesterday there was a flock of them on my neighbor’s silver maple. Today there was another flock of them on my other neighbor’s green ash tree. The distinctive markings of the Cedar Waxwing include exquisite taupe plumage, light yellow belly, black mask, pointed crest, bright yellow tip on the tail, and red tips on the wings. I plan to add a serviceberry bush to my yard to attract this lovely bird.

I’ve started to become interested in birdwatching—learning the species, being observant enough to find the birds and identifying them by their markings and songs. If that’s not challenging enough—try to photograph them! Spring is a great time for birding because the birds are very active and vocal, and the leaves on the trees have not appeared yet, making it much easier to spot birds.

Counting Birds with the Pros

December 20, 2008

I spent this morning counting birds for Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count. This annual event occurs throughout the Americas and its purpose is to assess the status of bird populations.

This was a new experience for me, as I haven’t done much bird watching. Four men and I drove around a specified territory and we counted all the birds we saw. We went through cemeteries, trails, wooded areas, busy streets, and residential neighborhoods. We got out and walked at times. I appreciated the opportunity to learn from long-time birders.

What I discovered:

  • I can be much more observant than usual if I try.
  • I can now identify the dark-eyed junco.
  • There are several nearby trails that I didn’t know existed.
  • When birders drive a car they don’t keep their eyes on the road!

It was a very snowy day, so the birding supposedly wasn’t very good, but I was impressed with our numbers. We saw (or heard) 17 different species and a total of 369 birds.

Tekiela’s Field Guides

December 11, 2008

With the gift-giving season upon us, Stan Tekiela’s field guides are a good choice for budding naturalists. I personally own the Minnesota versions of Birds of Prey, Mammals, Trees, and Wildflowers. I also have the Birds field guide and its companion CD of bird songs. Matching the song to the plumage is a good time, and requisite if you want to get into birding.

These field guides are great because they have just the right amount of information without overwhelming you, and the photography is stunning! Some of the reviews on amazon.com are negative, saying Tekiela’s guides are too basic. But if you’re a novice like myself, basic is what you want!

Black & White in the Everglades

November 24, 2008

We were surrounded by dozens of prehistoric creatures. I was struck by their color—black. They were well camouflaged, swimming through the dark waters of the canal. Then the boat sped forward and an enormous white creature appeared from nowhere. It spread its wings and took to the air in front of us. The most beautiful creature in the Everglades—the Great White Heron—shares its home with the alligator.