Field reports

Thanks to Michael McIlvain and Mike Wiitala, who shared their observations within the past couple of days.

Michael McIlvain reported on Saturday that he had been seeing four to six ravens at a time feasting on a deer carcass on U.S. Highway 2 less than a mile west of Midway Road. The deer met its untimely end on Friday night and was on the north side of the road — the raven equivalent of a roadside diner.

Michael also saw a great gray owl on Wednesday evening crossing Lindahl Road north of U.S. Highway 53 and south of Martin Road, in the vicinity of Pike Lake.

AND he has seen an occasional flying squirrel at the bird feeders at night.

Mike Wittala’s observation actually goes back to last winter, and it comes with a question. Here’s the picture that goes with it:

They might be a little difficult to make out, but Mike confirms that those are robins in winter. He says he had no idea that robins stayed around and wonders if they can survive the winter.

I can at least partially answer that. I know that some robins do indeed stay the winter in the Northland. I’ve seen them in the past along the Western Waterfront Trail and at the Holiday station at Central and Grand in West Duluth, and I’ve been told at least one robin is hanging out near the Federal Building in downtown Duluth this winter. Farther south in Minnesota, people sometimes see whole flocks of robins in winter — although the vast majority of robins fly much farther south.

As for survival, I know that birds migrate for food availability. The difficulty for a robin staying for the long Northland winter would be finding enough food to survive. I assume that some do survive, but I don’t have any statistics or authoritative information on that. Can anyone offer insight on this question?

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