Sunday, March 24, 2013


We had tried to find a time between snowstorms to travel to the Platte River in Nebraska to see the great Sandhill Crane migration.  The weather, either here or there, thwarted our plans every time.  On March 20, the first day of spring, we decided to take a road trip to the (mostly frozen) Mississippi River instead.  We stopped in one of our favorite spots, the wildlife refuge at New Albin, Iowa.  We were looking at a merganser and while the car window was down to photograph him, we heard the unmistakeable call of the sandhills.  Much to our surprise and delight, they were back!  We hadn't expected them.  As is usually the case, we heard them before we saw them.  We found three mated pairs working the river area and also a group of about thirty standing far off in a field. 

This crane is resting on one leg...perhaps trying to keep his other leg warm??  This picture gives a good look at the red patch above the eyes.

This is one of a mated pair.  They were quite vocal at times and really stayed quite close together.  We did not get to see any of the cranes doing their "dancing" (mating display). 

This pair of sandhills was busily searching the muddy river edges looking for food.  Much of the ground is still snow covered and frozen, so finding food is a challenge right now.

We spotted a flock of thirty sandhills in the distance as we were leaving the refuge.  They are undoubtedly resting here on their migration route which will take them farther north.

The river is not far away and this sandhill is heading there to muck through the mud for a meal.  His mate is nearby as well.

It seems there are always geese to be found in the wildlife reserve at New Albin.  This beautiful bird was taking a little rest in the snow.   Go up and to the right to view more pictures.

We caught these two immature eagles in the Root River Valley just west of Rushford, Minnesota.  They were in a dispute over a bit of deer carcass left in the field.  There were several other eagles around and eventually six of them got into the action. 

Mated pair of eagles catching a bit of the sun's warmth. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A junco with the rust color on both sides of its white breast.  This color phase of the Junco is often called the "Oregon Junco" because this color phase is more common in the N.W. United States.
We have one or two of these show up with the other Juncos every few years.

                                       Female Cardinal outside our window.

                              Male Cardinal after yet again another snow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The winter is getting tough for local wildlife.  The deer are now at our bird feeders after dark every night. It has snowed every 4-5 days for almost a month now.  We have 25+ inches of new snow for March and this has stressed all the wildlife(and us too).  Our normal high is about 42 degrees and we are running about 20 degrees below that each day.   Time for Old Man Winter to move on!!


As of Friday March 15 the 5 eagle nests we are watching had the following status:
  Nest 1 for the first time an eagle was sitting on the nest
  Nest 2 had blown down over winter but the nest has been rebuilt in the past two weeks-good sign
  Nest 3 no activity and no eagles in area
  Nest 4 the first nest of the 5 to have a sitting eagle-still sitting on nest today
  Nest 5 had sitting eagle and another close by

Monday, March 11, 2013


A friend of ours caught this Sharp-Shinned Hawk feeding on a kill near their feeder in Spring Valley, Mn.  We also have had  one hunting the birds at our feeders on a regular basis most of this winter.

Male Horned Lark.  Note the little "horns" on the head-hence the name.  These horns are really specialized feathers and are most easily seen during breeding season.  This pair has set up territory along our 1/2 mile long gravel driveway. Just had another 8-9 inches of wet snow-have had almost 20 inches in a week.

                                                          Female Horned Lark

Sunday, March 3, 2013


We checked nests 3, 4, and 5 today.  Nest 3 shows no activity, Nest 4 still has one adult sitting on the nest, and nest 5 had two eagles sitting on the edge of that nest today.  Our photos of the nests will not be real good-we are careful to keep a large distance between us and all nests and even with a 400mm lens, and then expanding the photo with the computer, the image size and quality will be poor. Also saw a Great Horned Owl nesting in a old nest that was used by a Red-tailed Hawk last year. Saw two Blue Birds in the Root River Valley.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Took a tour of 5 local eagle nests about a week ago.  This is nest number 4.  If you look closely or click on the picture to expand, you can see the head of an adult on this nest.  This nest therefore most likely has eggs in it.  Eggs should hatch in about 4 more weeks.  We should see feeding behaviors when the eggs do hatch-will keep you posted.

Found this immature Bald Eagle feeding on a road-kill deer about 25 yards off a gravel road in the Root River valley about 4 miles west of Spring Valley Mn.