Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Next few weeks will have peregrines interspersed with other banding. This past Friday I was granted permission to be able to see the peregrines at their nest box at one of our metro area locations! It has been a wet/cold year, so some nest boxes have failed and others are later this year than in past. The chicks here are between 2 and 3 weeks old.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Warbler Goodness Brought to You by the Letter "M"

Still catching up on posts! Last weekend at Ritter Farm, in between some pretty crazy rain/storms, we did get a couple of FABULOUS warblers! First two pics are of a Mourning Warbler. The last two are of a Magnolia Warbler.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Caspian Tern

My thoughts are out to anyone affected by the wave of storms that moved through the city over the weekend. My place didn't suffer much, but I know others might not have been so fortunate.

Catching up again on some blog posts - have had a wonderful time following a couple of Caspian Terns who just happen to be down the street from me. I photographed them flying, sitting, etc. Had my lens trained on the one - and then some other activities took place. Poor tern - just a bystander, not a voyeur. You can use your imagination to fill in the dialogue -

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rose-breasted Mystery

This past banding session at Ritter was fantastic - Tennessee Warblers with faces full of apple blossom pollen, other warblers dripping from tree branches. And this Rose-breasted Grosbeak who almost put us into apoplexy. At first glance, he appeared to be a second year male, and fairly classic at that - brown worn primaries, yellow and spotting on the sides. But he was already banded - and in 2009 no less! As a second year bird! So - what is his story? Just a late bloomer? Individual or environmental factors delaying the plumage, or is this the "final product?"

Don't you love banding? More questions than answers!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Urban Owls

Great horned owls are one of the first birds in the calendar year here in MN to have young out. Which means - during some of our coldest, wettest weather, they are able to successfully incubate eggs and keep warm chicks who are hatched with no feathers to hold their body heat. This bird has taken over an old squirrel nest in a very well-traveled park in Minneapolis. The chicks in these shots are between 4-5 weeks old.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Belated Postings - Yard Sparrows

I've been a little bit of a slacker with the blog - but it's not intentional. Where do I start? Took a few days to spend at a friend's cabin to band 22 species and 62 birds - then helped with a bird banding event (24 species - 90 birds!). But wanted to go back a few weeks and just show what an amazing bit of birding can be had - just in my backyard! Looks like having feeders up/out (and seed on the ground) in addition to some plantings taking shape has put me on the Migration Highway. I was almost out of my mind to have so many species of sparrows come visit. Here are just a few:

This first is arguably my fave sparrow of all - Harris! I have seen them in SD and NE only - never MN, and here it was - in my yard! What a fabulous meatball of a bird!

The next three are of a White-crowned Sparrow. They are a little toughie of a bird - bigger than the White-throated and kind of bruisers.

Ahhh - here are a couple of White-throated Sparrows. Note the color difference in the white stripes - the first is more classic, and the second is more beige. The second one is a Second Year for sure - the first would need to be held in the hand to tell for sure. Some individuals within a species will molt a little sooner than others.

This Chipping Sparrow is the smallest of the ones I have had come in. It will breed in the neighborhood, so I will be seeing it!

These last two pics were taken through a screen and a glass window so they are blurry - but they are of a Clay-colored Sparrow! Did I mention my backyard? These are birds that breed in prairies, so I was glad that a little thistle stop could help it out on its journey.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Little Self-promotion

Normally I am not one to let the world know what I am up to - aside from birding. These two pieces are ones I don't mind sharing. Three Rivers Park District filmed a clip on birding, and the Star Trib ran a piece on banding at Ritter.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spring Hawk Migration

Got to have the experience of a lifetime recently. I really am pretty blessed to have people in my life who are not only kind and wonderful humans, but they are willing to share their knowledge. A wonderful couple on Duluth opened their home and let me stay and take in the fantastic spectacle of spring hawk migration. For someone like me who has done fall hawks for so long - seeing these birds six months later was quite an eye-opener. Birds hatched in 2010 now look remarkably different in the spring of the following year. I tried to soak up as much as I could, but hope to do more of this.

Quite a treat to get one Northern Harrier in a fall season - something else to get not just two, but a full adult AND a second year bird (meaning, hatched the year before) and have them in hand for comparison. The full adult is the bird on the right - look at the difference in eye color and plumage.

Merlins are always one of my favorites. This adult male looked so worn - see the tips of his inner (deck) feathers? Also check out the reddish color on the feathers over his legs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Steelers are for the Birds

So, I have this friend Kristin who is not only a great, sweet human being - she also has mad skillz at the sewing machine. AND - she knew that I am amassing all the tools of the trade I need now that I am an official sub-bander. Look at the AMAZING Bag of Bags - and the bird bag in stylish Steeler Black and Gold! What a great gift!

Fits well with the theme of NFL DRAFT WEEKEND! Not even the stupid Roayal Wedding can trump this annual event that is basically Christmas for us football fans. I give us a solid B+ this year - my second round tackle is going to fantastic, and if Kevin Colbert is going to be almost giddy about my first round DE, then I can get behind that, too -