Friday, April 27, 2012

Yellow rumped warbler photo courtesy of Bruce Lees.  This warbler is almost always the first of the warbler family of birds to arrive.  Many more colorful members of the warbler family will arrive from Central America over the next few weeks.

The Jack-in-the-pulpit is a most unusual flower, but quite common in the woolands of this area.

Trillium is a showy flower which has just begun blooming in our woodlands.  It is common but not overly abundant.  It has three leaves and three flower petals, thus the Latin "tri".

The Wood Phlox is currently blooming and very common in the woodland areas of southeastern Minnesota. 

This odd little flower looks like cats' feet and is called Pussytoes.  It usually blooms in open woodland meadows or on prairies.

This is a view of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge at Trempeleau, Wisconsin.

The pelicans are back on the Upper Mississippi for the first time since October of last year.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Trout Lilies bloom in patches that often will contain hundreds of leaves with about 10-20% of the plants that actually flower in a given year. Note the coloration pattern of the leaves-they do in someways resemble the coloration of trout.

Bellworts bloom in the upland woods of this area and inspite of a cold April are if full bloom now.

Meadow Rue with its small and delicate flowers are starting to bloom in the open woodlands.

The White Throated Sparrows have arrived in good numbers and are now singing their high pitched song in the mornings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


On Thursday, April 5, we took a little road trip to New Albin, Iowa. We drove out onto the Mississippi floodplain just east of town. This area is part of the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge. Towards sunset we were lucky enough to spot two Sandhill Cranes in the backwaters close to the road. They were busy feeding at first and then honored us with a courtship display. We watched them for about 15 minutes and what a treat! Their actions and vocalizations are really fun to see. While most sandhills migrate farther north, this pair appeared to be setting up nesting in Iowa. There are also a few Sandhill Cranes nesting in Houston, Fillmore, and Winona counties. We first found migrating Sandhill Cranes in Fillmore County, Minnesota back in 1994. Since then their presence seems to have been very slowly increasing in this area. See more sandhill pictures below.

Love is in the air! This male sandhill has decided to impress his mate with a courtship dance. He first tries to get her attention by picking up and throwing grass and twigs into the air. Notice his wings are extending as he prances towards her.

The male sandhill is in full courtship display. He prances around the female while extending his wings and vocalizing. This vocalization is a loud, somewhat musical rattle. Sometimes both birds will jump up and down while side by side, but this female appeared to be unimpressed at this point.

The male continued his display as he walked away from the female bird.

After the courtship display, the sandhills went back to feeding in the shallows. Eventually they crossed the river and disappeared in the marsh grasses.

The Great Egrets have also arrived. This one was probably hunting for frogs as there were many singing in the area.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This Red Admiral butterfly is feeding on Plum flowers. We found one clump of Plums that had at least a dozen newly hatched voracious butterflies busily feeding. The woodlands are now a roit of ever changing blooms.

Red Admirals feed on any nectar/pollen producing plant. The larva feed almost exclusivly on nettles.-Yes even stinging nettles produce something positive. They will produce a later hatch this summer and those butterflies are larger in size. The plums, the Red Admirals, and all the woodland wildflowers are all about a month early this year. March was the warmest on record for S.E. Minnesota.
PS We ate asparagus from our garden on Tuesday, April 3. That is

False Rue Anemone are carpeting the forest floor with beauty.

The small flower of the Wild Ginger is quite spectacular. They prefer steep hillsides of the woodlands and are very common.

The Dutchman's Breeches are now blooming in the forested uplands.

Mitreworts are now blooming in the rocky dryer forested areas.
The flower is hard to photograph with our cheap equipment-the tiny flowers are only about 1/8 inch across.

Toothwort blooms in lowland forests but usually somewhat higher and dryer than the Bluebells.

The Bluebells are now in full bloom on old forest floodplains.

Greek Valerain, which also has bell shaped flowers, is just starting to bloom.

The Marsh Marigolds are now blooming in the wet areas.

Spring Seep with both Marsh Marigolds and Skunk Cabbage on hillside in Forestville St. Park.

Skunk Cabbage leaves are now about 1 ft. tall and will soon double that size.