Monday, May 29, 2006


I took this great photo just the other day of a pileated woodpecker. Pileated are the largest woodpecker in Minnesota and, if you don't count the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, they are the largest in North America. These guys are huge. They have a wingspan of 29 inches! This one got caught in a bird mist net at the nature center and a bird bander is actually holding the bird. My telephoto lens isn't that good! Catching a pileated in a mist net isn't unheard of but it is notable. They caught one last year as well but it had been three years before that when the last one was caught.

You can tell this is a male because of the bold red line under his eye. Both males and females have the red crest but the line is unique to the males. Though clearly alarmed (his crest is sticking up) he was pretty docile in the hand. That huge beak could do some serious damage to your hands but luckily he took it all well.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Morning Music

This morning I pulled an old gem out of my CD case. I picked out the classic 1983 Midnight Oil album 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. This has always been one of my favorites for the raw emotion of the songs. I'm always a little surprised how fresh the lyrics seem. You'd think the world would be capable of just a little change in all these years. This verse, from the song, US Forces, always seems relevant, maybe even more so today.

Us forces give the nod, it's a setback for your country
Bombs and trenches all in rows, bombs and threats still ask for more
Divided world the cia, who controls the issue
You leave us with no time to talk, you can write your assessment
The full lyrics to the song Read About It are some of my favorite though.
The rich get richer, the poor get the picture
The bombs never hit you when you're down so low
Some got pollution, some revolution
There must be some solution but i just don't know
The bosses want decisions, the workers need ambitions
There won't be no collisions when they move so slow
Nothing ever happens, nothing really matters
No one ever tells me so what am i to know

You wouldn't read about it, read about it
Just another incredible scene, there's no doubt about it

Hammer and the sickle, the news is at a trickle
The commissars are fickle but the stockpile grows
Bombers keep acoming, engines softly humming
The stars and stripes are running for their own big show
Another little flare up, storm brewed in a tea cup
Imagine any mix up and the lot would go
Nothing ever happens...

You wouldn't read about it, read about it
One unjust ridiculous steal, ain't no doubt about it
You wouldn't read about it, read about it
Just another particular deal, there's no doubt about it
As I begin the work day one line from Tin Legs and Tin Mines keeps ringing in my head.
" Who's running the world today?"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I'm an Octabirder

I thought I'd take a minute at lunch here to say that I have now pushed into the 80s in my quest to see how many wild birds I can ID in one year. Numbers 77-82 were as follows.

Northern Waterthrush
Green Heron
Eastern Kingbird
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Chimney Swift

At this point I'm feeling prety good about breaking 100. I'm planning on going to Norway this fall so that should help me add a slew of birds! Still, it will be interesting to see how many birds I can spot at Warner, In Minnesota, In North America and finally internationally.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Got the Spirit of '76

The list keep on growing. Yesterday I saw a Baltimore Oriole. On the drive to work today, I spotted an Eastern Meadowlark near the corner of Co. Rd. 4 and Co. Rd. 15 (Manning Ave). It was classically sitting on a fence post. I am about 90% sure I saw a great crested flycatcher but because I didn't have my binoculars and i am not %100 on their call I am not going to count it. I took a hike while I ate my lunch and got a good look at a field sparrow. I have heard them many times but this was the first time I have gotten a really good view. I had 7x35 bincular on a pair of them from about 10 feet away. They are prettier than the drawings in the Sibley book.

In a cool development, someone spotted a red headed woodpecker long Norell Ave about one mile from the nature center. I spotted a read headed woodpecker my first year here and everyone thinks I am crazy. I know where this one was spotted so I have my eyes open every day.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

More Birdies

So, I posted that I am at 70 birds. Later that same day I spotted a male Common Yellow Throat so makes that 71. I also spotted an American Kestrel. Weird I commented on spotting one back on my March 27th post but didn't include it in my list. So, I'm at 72. I then remembered that I have, of course, seen Pigeons. So, 73 birds. I only have 27 more birds to go.

If I had to predict I'd say I hope to see the following. (In no particular order)

Belted Kingfisher
Chimney Swift
Indigo Bunting
Stellar's Jay
Eastern Meadowlark
Green Heron
Brown Thrasher
House Finch
Blue Winged Teal
House Wren
Baltimore Oriole
Scarlet Tanager
Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Wood Thrush
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Trumpeter Swan
Snowy Owl
Grey Catbird
Ring Billed Gull
Sandhill Crane
Black and White Warbler

That would only take me to 97. If I get these what will the other 3 be?


Thursday, May 11, 2006

And then there were 70.

I just had to post this. I remembered today that I saw a common raven in Arizona in March and that wasn't on my list. I then got a pretty good look at a common grackle on the way to an outreach program so I could finally scratch it off my list. I mentioned to Paul that I was at 69 and he told me to go look at the feeders because people were seeing Rose Breasted Grosbeaks all day. I strolled across the building only to discover the only visitor at the feeders was a red squirrel. Paul swore they had been seen and headed back to the office. Just as the door closed behind him a male Rose breasted grosbeak gently landed on the wire holding up the string of feeders.

Seventy birds and counting.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Counting Birds

I thought I'd already started this list here but apparently not. I've decided to see if I can spot 100 different birds this year. My fellow naturalist Paul Smithson is currently ahead in the standings.

Here is my bird list thus far. I spotted the barred owl and barn swallow today so I am now at 67.

Black throated sparrow
Great tailed grackle
Great egret
Great blue heron
Mallard duck
Violet green sparrow
Mourning dove
White crowned sparrow
Gambel's quail

Great horned owl
Cactus wren
Curve billed thrasher
Cliff swallow
White breasted nuthatch
Ruby crowned kinglet
Western Bluebird
Yellow rumped warbler (Audubons)
Anna's hummingbird

Common Goldeneye
Common loon
Wood duck
Wild Turkey
Red bellied woodpecker
Downy woodpecker
Hairy woodpecker
Brown creeper
Northern cardinal
American robin

Blue jay
American goldfinch
Dark eyed junco (slate colored)
Pileated woodpecker
Black capped chickadee
Purple finch
Red shouldered hawk
Bald eagle
Hermit thrush
American crow

Eastern Phoebe
Cedar waxwing
European starling
Ring necked duck
Canada goose
House sparrow
Fox sparrow
Turkey vulture
Hooded merganser

Ring necked pheasant
Brown headed cowbird
Tree swallow
Yellow bellied sapsucker
American coot
Red tailed hawk
Eastern bluebird
American woodcock
Eastern Towhee

White throated sparrow
Tufted titmouse
Red breasted nuthatch
Yellow rumped warbler (Myrtle)
Chipping sparrow
Barred owl
Barn swallow

What will be next? If I had to guess I'd say I'm due to see a sandhill crane, an oriole, an ovenbird and if I actually stepped outside and looked I could hunt down a grackle, song sparrow and field sparrow. Weirdly I also haven't seen a house wren. I guess I just need to look. I've heard a bunch of other birds but those don't count.