Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lowry Banding

Okay, okay - stop me if you've heard this before. But seriously - White-throated Sparrows really are one of my fave sparrows. When we banded at Lowry a couple of weeks ago, this bird was the first of its species that I had seen in the cities. As I write this, though, there are about a dozen in my front and back yards. I heard the distinctive call notes, and ran outside (yes, in the full downpour of rain) and sprinkled some seed. Within moments there was a huge group. Along with them were Juncos, Cowbirds and a Blue Jay or two.

This Junco had white spots around its eyes.

This American Tree Sparrow was also banded at Lowry. It is a second year bird, so does not have its more defined eye line.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Osprey have Returned!

It;s a wonderful thing to have so many photos and adventures to write about that you have to think about what to post! Just got back from some amazing experiences Up North (will post soon). In the meantime, I will try to catch up with stuff I have from the past couple of weeks. This osprey nests in Carver, near Lowry Nature Center. Birds are coming through in waves - I think I have to mow soon - spring must really be here!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ritter and Innsbruck

I was introduced to Ritter Farm in Lakeville from the summer/early fall banding sessions I assist with. Be warned - take stock of your surroundings - it is a wonderful place to go walking, but easy to get turned around. !!!!. There is a bald eagle's nest at the entrance. Wonderful wetland and orchard with some great birds. Always a nice selection of habitats to find some wonderful birds.

Just introduced to Innsbruck in Fridley. A great mix of wooded and wetland, with some fantastic geographic features. When I was there, these Hooded Mergansers and Blue-winged teal were also visiting. Should be fantastic for warblers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spotlight - Riverfront Regional Park

On the other side of the Mississippi River from North Mississippi Regional, is Riverfront Regional. The former is a part of the Three Rivers District, and the latter is an Anoka County park. I almost broke my wrist getting out of the car in the parking lot - just as I pulled up, and was facing the river, the unmistakable silhouette of a Peregrine Falcon popped up over the treeline along the river.

Yellow-rumped Warblers, aka Butter-butts, were present in droves. Literally, that little squirt bottle sound they make was everywhere - their little flippy-do flights as they hunt for insects felt like a Disney movie over me and in the trees along the trail. They are highly susceptible to pishing, so you can usually get more than a few curious individuals to come closer.

This male Downy had no problem preening just above my head on the paved trail.

Eastern Phoebes were present, hunting more on the ground for their lunches.

Ths Nothern Flicker and American Robin had a short disagreement, but resolved it with the Robin deciding he was more comfortable about three trees over.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spotlights on Local/Metro Birding Spots

Those of us in Minnesota, and specifically the Metro area are really pretty lucky. We don't have to go very far from our front doors to do some fantastic birding. Part of that is the sheer number, and diversity, of natural areas like parks and refuges that have been designated and are available to enjoy. I am going to try to spend the next couple of blog posts highlighting some of the lesser known ones.

First up - North Mississippi Regional Park in Minneapolis. Don't let the proximity to I-94 fool you - it is sandwiched between the river and the freeway, and has some real gems. The nature center is wonderful. They also have an open area that will attract Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Phoebes and other flycatchers. Northern Flickers and other woodpeckers love it, too. This was the first spot this year that I heard and saw Song Sparrows (first two pics). It also features a large Great Blue Heron Rookery (next four pics).

Last photo is a Greater White-fronted Goose. Just happened to notice it as I was walking to the rookery.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Urban raptors

Every so often I will just drive around in my neighborhood and see/hear what is around. Had my window down - what a great last few days! - and heard some raucous crow calling. Realized the source of their concern - a Cooper's hawk had just pegged a pigeon in a yard. Talk about an urban raptor - the mailman would have to actually step AROUND the bird to deliver the mail. How to tell it's a Coops (instead of a Shin?) Couple of things - check out that very dark greay "cap" that is more easily seen on a Coops. Also check out that flat head - you could set a coffee cup on it. Shins' heads are more rounded - like a pinhead (but don't tell them I said that.) Check out the moult pattern - some of the primaries are going to be moulted (the ones there now are very brown and worn) and the tail feathers are in various stages of moulting in for the season.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Banding Sunday

Welcome to spring in MN. Last week Tuesday was gloves - yesterday was a T-shirt. Lots of species moving through or jsut getting to town. Here are some of my faves - the Sparrows! First bird (three photos) is a Fox Sparrow. We just see them passing through in spring and fall. What a meatball, huh? The last bird (two photos) is a Swamp Sparrow - smaller than the Fox. In between (three photos) is a Hermit Thrush - you can see how the thursh's bill is much more tapered and longer than the thick, stout Sparrow bills. Also caught a quick shot of just how detailed the colors are under the Thrush's wing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Red tailed Hawk Cam

From outside a library in New York - a Red-tailed Hawk cam!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bald eagle cam - part 2

Okay, I am hooked. These are just from this morning. Dad came in - tried the crow (no jokes about eating crow) and looks (or tastes) like it wasn't as good of an idea as originally thought. He turned to the more yummy muskrat. In a quick exchange, you can see the two chicks here -

Bald eagle cam (food)

By now, it's almost impossible to think the world doesn't know about the eagle cam in Decorah Iowa. Bob Anderson and the Raptor Resource Project did a wonderful job of a making it possible for anyone, anywhere, to see what it is like to "grow up eagle." Using technology as a portal to environmental education is not only effective, it's almost unavoidable to reach the young audiences today.
What I appreciate the most is WHAT THEY ARE EATING! Over these various screenshots, you can see rabbit, fish, crow and muskrat. You can see the road in the background - wonder if this pair make their living on a lot of roadkill?