Beside my office building,
It’s no secret to most people that house sparrows, sometimes called English sparrows, are a non-native species of bird originally from Europe. House sparrows have thrived in North America ever since their 19th-century release into several American cities. Today, house sparrows can be found from coast to coast in nearly every conceivable environment, both urban and rural.
Springtime is one of the best times to observe wildlife, especially birds. Indeed, neo-tropical migrants have been filtering into Minnesota for some time now. Horned larks, considered to be the true harbingers of spring by many birders, were probably the first to arrive onto the open landscapes.
Several weeks ago, a woman from the Detroit Lakes area told me her husband had found tadpoles in a pond. She wondered how this could be, since she had believed that frogs become adults in the late summer or early fall after hatching as tadpoles from eggs laid by adults in the spring.
I saw my first eastern bluebird, a singing male, the second week of March — a little earlier than usual. The beautiful bird flew from one backyard perch to another, softly singing its sweet warbled song as he flew. Indeed, there’s something very special about seeing a bluebird.
I’ve never observed a mockingbird. Perhaps one day I will. However, I do recall back in 2007 when a friend of mine from rural Bemidji, Sharon Campbell, called to inform me about her exciting observation next to her home.
A while ago I wrote something while thinking something else. I had written about the “whirligig” swimming style of the American avocet. Thankfully, Mr. Bob Bellig from the Bemidji area caught my mistake and took the time to write me. Thanks to him, I can now set the record straight!
Meteorological spring is upon us, but if one didn’t know better, you’d believe it’s been spring for weeks.
Looking out at a landscape — any landscape, whether it be from a vantage overlooking the Red River Valley or on top a birch ridge high above a favorite lake — the “big picture” that such panoramas provide can be easily broken down into minute proportions.
Last week I wrote about the fee-bee song of male black-capped chickadees — a sure sign of transition from one season to another. As such, it won’t be long and we’ll notice other signs of seasonal renewal.
It isn’t uncommon to observe wildlife while taking my evening walk with my dog, Duke, on the township road I live beside. Lately I’ve seen wild turkeys, but I’ve also spotted deer, porcupines, sandhill cranes, ducks and geese, songbirds galore, frogs and toads, you name it. But one animal that crossed the dusty dirt road in front of me last week was a first.
While visiting a friend’s rural home in the Alida area recently, I was treated to the sight of the only two seasonal “blue” songbirds that I can readily think of occurring in Minnesota. Indeed, one of the blue-colored birds is a species that I routinely observe throughout the countryside, including around my own home.
It’s a common occurrence. A fawn is found by a well meaning person who thinks that the animal has been abandoned by its mother. The person carries the young deer home and calls the DNR to ask what they should do.
I often try describing the songs and calls of birds by writing what I and other writers and ornithologists believe they sound like.
On my way recently to drop my son off at Neilson Spearhead Center for a week of working and learning on “Dan’s Crew” for the first week of the preserve’s Young Naturalist Program, we saw a dead deer along Hubbard County Highway 9.
I have a confession to make. I think I’m guilty of expressing affections for a certain species of bird, or groups of birds, on a frequent basis, evidently forgetting devotions already spoken for, only to make similar comments regarding another species a week or two later.
Thinking back over the past week, raptors come to mind. I’ve seen American kestrels hovering above roadside ditches hunting for prey, or perched on power lines, probably doing the same, watching for prey – mice, voles, what have you. I also discovered two different wood duck houses occupied by nesting kestrels, their ki-ki-ki calls giving them away as they flew to a nearby perch to watch as I passed by.
I’ve always maintained that springtime’s the best time. And while it’s most definitely the case that yours truly derives great pleasure from autumn’s magical moments, nothing, in my book, beats Minnesota’s annual season of renewal.
I’m often asked by readers who read my ramblings, “Isn’t it hard to come up with topics to write about every week?”
My backyard birdfeeders have been very active this winter with plenty of wild birds – and not just the usual assortment of wintertime birds.