Thursday, December 30, 2010

SD BIrds

Pretty cool raptors for book ends at my folks' place in SD. The Rough-legged was chilling at one end of some trees, and the Prairie Falcon was at the other. The last pic shows why the Prairie Falcon was around. Though they won't take enough to affect a hunting season or population by any means, the falcons do fill their tummies with pheasant in the fall and winter season around the place.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Banded Red-tailed hawk is 27!

This article from the New York Times is yet another great reason/illustration why we band birds!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Whooping Cranes to FL!

Earlier this week, five of the 10 young Whooping Cranes hatched in WI made it to their wintering home in the FL panhandle (St Mark's NWR). They followed ultralight planes. The other five birds will hopefully get to Crystal Springs (FL) soon. This is more good news - an aerial survey Dec 9 of the Wood Buffalo birds counted 223 adults and 45 juveniles. Follow Operation Migration for background and continuing stories of the Whooping Cranes.
Below I have posted a couple of pics from the March 09 trip tp Kearney, NE. We had heard there was one juvenile Whooping Crane in the area, with a flock of Sandhills. We did find him/her - the bird certainly stuck out with the white (and some orange, from the first year plumage) and a much larger size, among the Sandhills. It was odd to have this bird with the Sandhills - it should still have been with its parents, but seemed to do well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Young Red-tail

Actually BEFORE Snowmageddon (just one of the titles of the historic 17.1 inch snowfall that just fell here in the Mpls area) I took these shots of a first year Red-tailed Hawk. He was hanging out near Springbrook. Staff there said that a couple of days before, he had gotten himself a couple of squirrels. Makes sense - the feeders would have been kept full to make sure lots of birds would be coming in anticipation of banding. Squirrels love feeders/seed, too, and any quick-thinking hawk would take advantage of that.

Note that the bird does NOT have red tail! He won't, until he starts to molt it in next year. See how the first year birds get "training wheels", especially on their tails? The feathers are just a bit longer, and you can see if here on that white edging on the tail.

This final shot shows the hawk locating and taking off after possible prey!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Migration and Flight

Have to dig myself out of approximately 18 inches of snow. Here are a couple of articles on migration and flight to tide you over -

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What the Animals do at Night

My dad has a trail cam set up. Apparently there may be some consorting between species when everyone else is asleep . . .

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cardinals in Winter

Anyone who has ever tried to photograph Northern Cardinals knows that they actually can be a bit challenging. There are not particularly accepting if you are nearby. Also never seems to be the right background for a truly nice photo. I actually got a little closer to some ideal shots this past weekend. The feeders at Springbrook were full with anticipation of banding this weekend.

This male dove into our footprints in the snow.

Juncos abounded with the cardinals.

This female Cardinal did get banded. What a sexpot, huh?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

White Ibis and Mercury

Always new info coming out on studies related to birds and toxins in the environment. This disturbing news, out yeseterday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B., demonstrates altered courtship in White Ibis related to mercury.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rough-legged Hawks

Am really trading in quality of photos for the sake of story-telling. Another set of not-great shots - but kinda cool to see a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk do its thing in the air. They don't exactly hover - but they do seem to hang there while they check the ground below for possible furry vittles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Long tailed and Other Ducks

Not award-winning by any means, but here are a couple of shots of the Long-tailed Duck (formerly Old Squaw) that spent some time on a couple of Metro area lakes a couple of weeks ago. He is in with the Common Golden eye - can you see the one low-rider in the group? You can tell they were a little ways from shore. Cool bird, though!

I really do love ducks, and Ring-necked Ducks are one of my faves. You can see the size difference in comparison to the Mallards.

This is a shot of multiple species of those ducks all moving to the lake that will be the "roost" for the night.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tufted Titmouse!

How about some yummy Tufted Titmouse for a grey and blustery day? These were taken in Menomonie WI earlier this fall. This is a bird whose range appears to be shifting a bit. I would love to start seeing these in the Mpls Metro area someday. They have really strong feet for hanging in trees, like Black-capped Chickadees, so a good idea to get them out of nets right away. They also have some extreme attitude hidden under that Maximum Cuteness.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brown Creeper!

I really do live a charmed life. I get to see so many cool birds, and get to hang out with cool people. This past weekend at Springbrook Nature Center banding, I learned a ton of new (to me) information about birds from Ron Refsnider, and then - we had a Brown Creeper in hand! This is not exactly a Holy Grail, but probably not far from it. Check out how tiny they really are. And then - marvel at those long nails on the toes. The bi-colored decurved beak. And the beautiful russet feathers at the base of the tail. And while we are talking about that tail - check out the sharply pointed tips. This bird promptly flew to a near-by tree trunk and hunkered against it, in the posture I am used to seeing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More Rough legged

Here are Frank Taylor and Bill Clark with the Rough-legged Hawk! What a great bird!

You can see the feathers down the tarsus - we made sure the band would not ever bother her in moulting or otherwise impede her.

Okay, yes - this is what it looks like. Thanks to Rick - this captures my most favorite thing to do after banding the hawks - taking in their wonderful smell. It really is something indescribable - the hawks anyway. Falcons are most musty smelling.

Last bird of the season to touch the nets - was a female Black-backed woodpecker! She unfortunately boinged out so we wouldn't have her in the hand but she was a great last bird for the season! They have only three toes, and usually follow recently burned pines. Sax Zim Bog and parts of Duluth usually report sightings in the winter. I hadn't seen one at the blind yet.

Special thanks for Frank, Rick and Chuck for their friendship, knowledge, and willingness to let me be a part of this team that is more of a family. Until next season . . . .

Monday, November 1, 2010

Last weekend at the blind for 2010 season

I will post lots more pics later. Busy day so will just post pics that Frank Taylor sent (thank you, Frank!) We didn't get lots, but we sure got a cool one - a Rough-legged came in! Also had Bill Clark come and sit with us, which was fantastic to learn all the great study work he is doing on the Harlani red-tails. More soon!