Posts Tagged ‘Birdwatching’

2010 Recap

January 2, 2011

I’d like to take a moment to look back and see how I’ve enjoyed and protected nature in the past year.

• I took up a new hobby in 2010—birdwatching. I was fortunate enough to tag along with a group of expert birders, logging about 40 hours with them. Not only did I see many birds I had never seen, I also visited many local parks I had never visited. Thanks Monday Morning Birding Bunch!

• I enjoyed the company of my husband and my dog during two relaxing camping trips at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area—near Ely and on the Gunflint Trail. Canoeing, hiking, swimming, birdwatching and stargazing were excellent.

• I attempted to make healthy and sustainable food choices by shopping at a local food co-op and supporting a local farm through a CSA membership.

• I watched my 2nd-year native plants garden grow and observed how the butterflies, bees, caterpillars and birds are attracted to native plants.

• In my own small way of trying to get others interested in nature, I gave Toastmasters speeches about the Minnesota Master Naturalist program and about my EcoStrides blog.

• H and I purchased snowshoes for our Minnesota nieces and nephews for Christmas and then we all went on a short snowshoeing and sledding adventure.

• I logged 47 hours of volunteering as a Minnesota Master Naturalist. My projects included:

  1. Pulling invasive garlic mustard at Crosby Farm Park for Friends of the Mississippi River
  2. Weeding at Como Lake’s shoreline for St. Paul Parks
  3. Removing invasive burdock from Como Park Woods for St. Paul Parks
  4. Collecting seed of native prairie plants at Woodbury Conservation Corridor and Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
  5. Supervising teens in stacking buckthorn at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for Great River Greening
  6. Spreading mulch under new shrubs under the Xcel Energy High Bridge for Great River Greening
  7. Cutting and piling brush at Lost Valley Scientific and Natural Area for the Minnesota DNR
  8. Cleaning seeds previously collected for Great River Greening
  9. Talking to visitors about native plants during a neighborhood garden tour
  10. Addressing envelopes for the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota
  11. Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count

Here’s to 2011 and more outdoor escapades!

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.

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.