Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The first Brown Thrasher showed up at our place-10 days later than last year  and 5 days later than two years ago.   Last year was one of the warmest springs on record and this year one of the coldest.  We are still getting light snows almost daily.

The male pheasants have taken on their full breeding color and long tail in preparation for doing battle with other males.

White Throated Sparrow.  We had two White Throats spend most of the winter with us, but they have now been joined by a few more migrating northward.  Their numbers will increase over the next few weeks,  and then they will all move farther north for the breeding season.

Turkey Vultures are back for the summer.  They are eagle-sized scavengers that began moving into Minnesota in the 1970's and have been breeding here in good numbers ever since.

Turkey Vultures are about the size of Bald Eagles.  They are excellent at using updrafts of warm air to glide for miles.  They glide with their wings slightly upturned in a  V  shape.

Monday, April 15, 2013


The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet is a very small insect hunter.  Note the "ruby" color on its crown.  It has a first cousin called the Golden-Crowned Kinglet-don't have a picture yet of that one. We often hear their high pitched call before we see them. They will soon head to far northern Minnesota and Canada to breed.

Wood Ducks are just plain stunning!!  This photo pushed the limits of our lens. To see more of our nature photos GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT AND CLICK ON APRIL 2013 OR ANY OTHER MONTH IN THE ARCHIVE.

Brown Creeper.  Has the the unusual behavior of flying to the base of a tree and then hopping upward as it circles around the tree-all the time searching for insect eggs, larva, etc.

The Hermit Thrushes have been here for about a week now. Note the eye ring and rusty tail-helps to ID from other thrushes which are not yet up.

Fox Sparrows are up in good numbers.  We had snow again but we have plenty of cover and food for them.  They love the seeds from giant ragweed.  They will stay with us a few weeks before they head farther north.

To view more Bluebirds and many other nature photos GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT AND CLICK ON APRIL 2013 OR ANY OTHER ARCHIVE MONTH OF YOUR CHOICE.





Thursday, April 11, 2013


Photographed this female Bluebird at the old iron mines pond area south of Spring Valley, Mn.  She is sitting on an old nesting box.  Both the male and female Bluebirds were present in good number.  We have had cold rainy weather since their arrival, but every year they seem to manage to survive a bad stretch in the spring.  Some Bluebirds will stay and nest in this area, while others will travel farther north.

Male Bluebird checking out the territory.

  A sure sign of spring is the call of the Red-winged Blackbird.  Always one of the first songbirds to arrive, it begins singing to mark its territory. 


Female and male Hooded Mergansers.  These are fish-eating, diving ducks. 

Male Hooded Merganser with his head crest down.  

Female Hooded Merganser. 

We have a little minimum maintenance road we like to take along the Mississippi.  Wanting to check out the birds overroad our common sense, and we went "mud bogging"  with a Buick LeSabre. We barely made it out, but we did get this shot of Common Mergansers in the backwaters of the Mississippi River.  Three males following one female....ahhhh, spring.   TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS, GO UP AND TO THE RIGHT AND CLICK APRIL, 2013 OR ANY OTHER ARCHIVED MONTH.

One of our most common ducks is the Blue-Winged Teal.  

Male and female Shoveler ducks.  Notice the large bill which is used for shoveling through the muck to get insect larvae and vegetation to eat. 

Male and female Buffleheads.


The Greater Yellowlegs are wading birds which are almost a foot tall.  We found a flock feeding in the shallows of the riverbed near New Albin, Iowa. 

This picture gives a good look at the oversized feet needed for walking in muck.

In the spring the migrating cranes can be found in wet bottom lands, near marshes and ponds, in farm fields, and really just about anywhere that they can hunt for their food.  Traveling through Houston County in southeastern MN, we spotted this bird in a small horse pasture that had a little pond.  Both this bird and its mate were busy mucking about the pond's edge looking for a meal.  We have also been seeing cranes in Fillmore County, Minnesota.  In recent years, a few Sandhill Cranes have begun nesting in southeastern Minnesota. 

The horses in the pasture really paid little attention to the cranes and vice versa.  This picture gives an idea of the relative size of the bird. 

As dusk descended on the National Wildlife Reserved at New Albin, Iowa, the cranes who had been elsewhere feeding, came back in small flocks.  They announced their arrival with their loud rattling calls.  Once you have heard a sandhill crane, you never forget the sound. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013


  Nest 1 had one adult on nest another near
  Nest 2 is rebuilt had one adult on nest another near
  Nest 3 has had no activity all spring
  Nest 4 (pictured above) first nest to have sitting eagle and the adult on the nest appears to be sitting much higher than before.  Eggs hatched????  We will see.
  Nest 5 had one adult on nest other near

Monday, April 1, 2013


This Pileated Woodpecker spent almost an hour just 20 feet away from our kitchen window last week.  See the article below on this magnificent creature.

The largest North American woodpecker, the Pileated is almost as large as a crow.

Note how the Pileated braces itself with its tail.  This allows it to hammer with more force.

Article for the Spring Valley Tribune on Pileated Woodpeckers.

The Hooded Mergansers are back up and on the Mississippi River.

   Too see more of our nature photos go  UP AND TO THE RIGHT  AND CLICK ON ANY MONTH IN THE ARCHIVES.