Minnesota bird watching
Baltimore Oriole and Orange
northern Minnesota has lots of birds
My dad has always loved birds. He doesn't let hunters shoot at geese or ducks in the fall when they rest on his lake. He knows when the bluebirds will return and puts out an orange slice for the baltimore orioles.
I like birds too. In northern Minnesota there are hawks and owls, bald eagles and crows, loons and blue jays. I have been missing the bobolink that used to come to the pasture where my folks live. Sometimes the birds are huge, like trumpeter swans; sometimes small, the hummingbirds... winter birds are in retreat mode, the chickadees and nuthatches, and the woodpeckers that pecked at suet.
Some are mysterious. My dad calls one the 'rain bird'. It might be a snipe; it flies overhead on calm evenings and makes a strange noise, maybe the sound of its wings flying by? The bittern down by the lake sounds like a sump pump, and shy pokes or cranes wade in shallow waters looking for frogs.
Birds change with the seasons
In the early spring late wintertime, crows can be found eating off frozen deer along the roadsides. Partridge drum back in the woods in springtime. Hawks also prowl the ditches for mice. I am not an expert at bird calls, but our mourning doves, or is it morning doves have a soothing sound. Whenever I watch golf tournaments on television I listen for bird calls from their super sensitive mikes as they hush for the putting stroke. I think there are cardinals and other songbirds down south that rarely make it this far up.
Canadien geese have already hatched out their broods or are in the process. They stake out territory in every pond and lake. Not many wood ducks, but I have seen them in northwestern Minnesota and marvel at their beauty. Barn swallows have a grace of their own, swooping down on the lake water and building their nests in the barn rafters. There are other songs I listen for, and might not even know their name, only that I relish that sound, and miss it if it is gone.
Birds remind us of the seasons
I don't want to take birds for granted. When the flocks of ducks and geese fly over in autumn, it sends chills to hear them. I will always love a loon's call, haunting, lonely, wild... In boundary waters there are islands with nesting bald eagles. On the shores of Lake Superior, gulls glide looking for smelt. Red winged blackbirds are returning now, with their familiar trilling. You might say that sparrows are a dime a dozen, but they are still unique.
I try to tell the difference between crows and ravens. Ravens are bigger and I think have a deeper croaking call. In the winter, flocks of snowbirds, not the kind that go to Arizona, but real snow birds with white wings dart by the highways on cold January mornings.
I feel like I am forgetting something. The robins or blackbirds or those songbirds I love but cannot name.
Summer and spring are so short up here, but of course there are birds year round. I know when the blackbirds start flocking in late summer, early fall, that time is short. They land on wild rice stalks and rest on telephone or electric wires. When a blue jay calls in its unique way on a late August afternoon, that feels like fall too.
For now, it is wrestling with diminished hearing that bothers a bit, even as I use the riding lawnmower without hearing protection. The songs are still there, and they are a gift.
Bird Songs Quiz
Seals and Crofts - Hummingbird
Birds and Blooms magazine
- Birds & Blooms Magazine: Flowers, Birds, Hummingbirds & Butterflies | Birds & Blooms
great photography in this magazine and great articles.