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Birds Posts

Videos: This Week in Duluth Snowy Owl Rescues

Richard Hoeg spotted a snowy owl on Duluth Harbor ice this morning and at first didn’t think it was out of the ordinary. Returning a few hours later, he noticed the owl had only moved a few feet and didn’t flush when a pair of dogs were checking it out. So with the help of a fish net, wood and duct tape, he pulled the owl in and passed it along to Wildwoods Rehabilitation. Hoeg tells the full story on his 365 Days of Birds blog.

Endion Owl

OwlCop

Duluth police officer Richard LeDoux photographed this barred owl sitting on the hood of his squad car at the intersection of 21st Avenue East and Superior Street in Duluth. The owl stayed there about a minute and then flew off.

Duluth News Tribune: Owl lands on Duluth squad car

Crows Attacking Snowy Owl at Sunrise

Shot this morning in the Duluth area by Richard Hoeg for 365daysofbirds.com.

What is the dawn chorus of birds?

In the West Duluth area we get two choruses — a din of birds sing-talking. It’s annoying. It happens at dawn and also dusk. I am wondering if there is an expert who could tell me what type of bird this might be. I don’t have a recording, but it usually goes something like wa-oh wa-oh wa-oh twitter spike. The song is really varied with each “sentence” or “question.” It happens before the crows start their cawing craziness and the seagulls start piping up.

Robin Droppings

Jana Studelska - Saturday EssayWhen my boys were young, they found a baby robin in our backyard. That little bird ruled our world for a few days, but more remarkably, it brought me to my spiritual knees. My place in things — motherhood, nature, humanness — all came into question. A decade later, I am still pirouetting with the lessons, the most resonant being my wonderment at the place I hold among animals, which I find to be rather startling. The writer Wendell Berry said in one of my favorite poems, “I come into the peace of wild things.” What I learned was not — and is still not — entirely peaceful. But in being gobsmacked by a few ounces of feathers, I have been able to see the elegance and intelligence of things I didn’t see before. The skills and abilities we are given for our particular deed. It just comes to us. We are so lucky, so blessed, so capable — even while we find the limits of our own animalness.

The robin my boys found was clearly too young to be on her own. She had enough wing feathers to get herself safely out of a tree without a deadly landing, but her landing strip was a backyard ruled by boys and curious dogs. Her appearance at ground level was, of course, a breathless, wide-eyed event for my elementary-aged boys, who instantly and frantically began saving her. I was swearing silently while directing an evacuation of the backyard, contending with that horrible gut heaviness that comes when you know your heart is about to be split open. I peered hopefully out the window with the boys many times before dinner, watching to see if the robin parents would somehow come for her. That was my irrational hope.

Sustainable Design at UMD

Sustainable Design6

I’m lucky to have worked on a sustainable art project on the breezeway leading to Darland Admin Building at UMD with Darren Houser, Mindy Granley, Catherine Meier, Kathy McTavish, and Wildwoods.

Duluth is a bottleneck for bird migration. Birds flying south prefer not to fly over open water, and so follow the coastline until they read the head of the lake in Duluth.

Bird on the loose

bird on a ledgeAnyone in Superior missing a pet?  My wife got this pic this morning. The bird is currently in the care of Wildwoods.

Crazy Pine Siskins

We have a gazillion pine siskins at our bird feeders right now. The feeders have to be filled twice a day to keep up with these ravenous little guys. Does anyone know what the story is? We have had siskins before but never so many at one time. Undoubtedly our seeds are tasty, but …

Found: The Elusive West Duluth Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl in West Duluth

If you’ve followed Perfect Duluth Day closely for more than a year, you might know that my wife and I are the world’s laziest and lousiest birders. We have cheap binoculars and cameras, and basically just try to keep an eye out while we are engaged in an activity like cross-country skiing. Last year, during an owl irruption in the Duluth area, we saw zero owls. The only snowy owls we had seen in our lives, before today, were in captivity at the Lake Superior Zoo and the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri.

We had a few failed missions last year, seeking the elusive snowy at Rice’s Point and the Bong Airport. After hearing reports of sightings near Duluth Business University and Wade Stadium this year, we decided to give it another try. We saw a bald eagle at Grassy Point within minutes, and figured that was a good sign. We knew from reading Sparky Stensaas’ blog post about Superior Snowy Owls that it’s generally easier to find them in a stupid place, like on a football scoreboard (in his case) or a piece of industrial equipment (in our case) than in a beautiful wilderness environment, so we were only moderately surprised to find our gal at Erie Pier in West Duluth, perched on a bulldozer.

Wildlife News

Some updates from Wildwoods Rehabilitation:

There are three window-strike bird victims in residence — a northern flicker, a juvenile cedar waxwing, and a flycatcher. The flicker came in with a spinal bruise, and was unable to use his legs for several days. Fortunately, he’s made a full recovery after rest and anti-swelling meds, and is ready for release. In the meantime, he’s been pigging out on the mealworms, and has plumped out, just in time for migration, when he’ll need the energy!

Grounded Eagle on Rice Lake Road

This afternoon I was driving back from the dump when I saw a car with its flashers on on Rice Lake Road. I slowed to … basically to rubberneck, but, you know, to see if everything was OK. They were looking at this bald eagle that was staggering along the narrow green space between the highway and the wetland that it passes through.

Historic barred owl!

Wildwoods was brought a barred owl yesterday (deceased, unfortunately, likely from a window collision). This owl, when already at least 1 year old, was banded at Hawk Ridge by Dave Evans back in 1998. Based on this, he is at least 16-17 years old, and the third oldest barred owl on record.

Local owl lands in national bird magazine

The new issue of Birds & Blooms (cover date: Dec/Jan) features this image of a blue moon boreal owl shot by Duluth’s Ken Greshowak.

Boreal Owl Irruption

Video by Sparky Stensaas

In the sky, it’s a what?

Last night we were enjoying dinner outside when we looked up to see a sky filled — hard to do this justice — with a bird that seemed to be some kind of raptor. My guess is that it is a falcony-like bird (kestrel or something?). It seemed to be up there feasting on the bugs that were so prevalent last night, but maybe it was the dragonflies? It was a smaller raptor and had a kind of stripe across the wings.

I wish I could describe to you how many there were. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. They moved in a mass of them more like a school of fish than birds and seemed to be focused on eating and eating. Simply hundreds of them. I was surprised that a raptor would eat insects but that seemed to be what they were doing.