Saturday, February 26, 2011

As you drive down our country roads this time of year you may see a pair or even a small flock of sparrow sized brown birds fly off the side of the roadway. These birds are are not sparrows but are Horned Larks. Some of these stay all winter-most go a little farther south and come back to Minnesota in Feburary and start to pair up in March. As the breeding season approaches the males
will displace little feather patches on the head-hence the "Horns".
If you see huge flocks of small birds rise up from the road side look for white patches on the wings. These are not the Horned Larks but are Snow Buntings which come from the tundra of Canada to spend only the winters with us.

Sunday, February 20, 2011



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SV Tribune article

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

One night we heard a racket in the basement and discovered it was a Screech Owl. After much confusion we finally caught the owl in a fish net and took it outside.

We finally caught the little owl in a fish net and released it outside.


Took this Screech Owl picture at a friends house two winters ago. It was probably exploring this wood duck box for a nesting site. It did not nest there. Screech Owls are 7-10 in. tall and although fairly common , they are not seen often. Many years ago a family of Screech Owls was living at my in-laws house. Each night they would hunt, and behead the mice, and leave the bodies lying on the back patio of the house. Hunting was so good that they were only eating the high energy brains of the mice. They would roost in the spruce trees in the backyard and were so calm that I held by 5 year old daughter up and she touched one of the owls.

The deer have been feeding on sunflower seeds under our bird feeders. Tough winter-although the last few days have now reached into the 40's for high temps.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feb. 14, 2011 With temps the last two day reaching 35-40 degrees the snowflies have come out for the first time. This particular snowfly is about 0.6 in. long and is a member of the stonefly family. They usually spend the larva stage in a moist or water environment.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Pine Squirrels love our feeders. We just accept them as part of the crew we end up feeding.

Turkey track compared to size 13 boot.

The Tuffted Tit Mouse is still with us and has been since November.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers like sunflower seeds and we have more Red-bellied this year than most years-almost every day we have a group of three show up at the feeders.

Hairy Woodpeckers are similar to Downy Woodpeckers but larger and less common.

Although this is not a very good picture we felt it was worth posting. This is a Northern Shrike-It is a preditory songbird, not a hawk. It eats small birds, insects, and mice. We have seen them store their kill by impalling on the thorns of plum trees. It is about the size of a Robin-note the hook on the end of its bill for ripping prey. In the summer its close cousin the Loggerhead Shrike inhabits S.E. Minnesota.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Male Cardinal and Junco's at the feeder.

The Cardinals come in to feed at sundown. We usually have about 25-30 at dusk. After a big snowstorm we will have 50-60 at one time.

Cardinal article for Spring Valley Tribune

I think this Blue Jay spotted me just as I took its picture.

Female Cardinal feathers from a fresh kill. This kill was probably made by a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, as we have had one hanging around our feeders for several days.

Saw something today we had never seen before. A small pine squirrel spotted this Sharp-Shinned Hawk in the tree outside the kitchen window. It approched the hawk several times-once within one foot. They just stared at each other. We were surprised to see the squirrel approach and just as surprised to see the Sharp Shin hold its ground. Sharp Shins are small hawks and hunt small birds,

and apparently not small squirrels.

Female and male English Sparrow or House Sparrow, as they are often called, are not native birds. Their numbers die off as the winter progresses-good.

Tree Sparrows are small sparrows which come from up north to spend the winters here. Note the small brown central spot on the breast-this is diagnostic for tree sparrow identification. This bird is far less common here than it was 20 years ago.

Junco and Tree Sparrow at feeders.

The Chickadee sized Junco is the most common bird at our winter feeders. The come from up north to spend the winter with us and prefer to feed off the ground.

Junco tracks in the snow. Look close and you can see wing marks from its takeoff.

A wild Deer Mouse waiting for us to come home and open the door.

Mice spend most of the winter under the snow for warmth and protection from preditors. As the tracks show they do come out at times to snoop around.

Mouse tracks including tail marks.

Maple Springs Campground outside of Forestville St. Park is quite in the winter.

Overlook from ski trail in Forestville.

Ski conditions is Forestville have been very good. Passed two areas where the deer have yarded up for the winter.

Deer in Forestville St. Park