Strange birdfellows

Karl Riggle of Zanesville, Ohio, sent these pictures recently of a brown thrasher …

And of a female rufous-sided towhee:

The odd thing is that the brown thrasher was hanging around with a male rufous-sided towhee.

Hmmm …

Your pictures, stories and comments welcome at:

Gigantic bird threatens shipping

Lyle Anderson, who lives on Park Point, looked out toward Lake Superior and took this picture:

Lyle writes:

I called the Coast Guard his morning and informed them that an enormous bird was about to attack a ship bound for Duluth. Needless to say they laughed at me and hung up.

(Seriously … beautiful picture, Lyle.)

Your comments, observations and pictures welcome:

Hello, Mr. Chip

Karl Riggle of Zanesville, Ohio, took this picture of a chipping sparrow.

Great picture, Karl, and it looks like a great feast from a sparrow’s perspective. Karl says this chipping sparrow stops by every morning to munch on seeds and is very tame.

I see chipping sparrows pretty much every year, but I have yet to see my first one this year.

Pictures, comments, observations always welcome at:

FOY tick

I went for a hike in the Bardon Peak area today and came back with my first-of-the-year tick.

Be careful out there.

I also saw a number of dragonflies. It seemed early to me, but perhaps it’s not. I don’t know one dragonfly from another, but they’re all fun to watch.

I didn’t see or hear anything interesting in terms of birds.

So, as I have in the past, I took pictures of flowers instead. I’m calling this pretty-little-yellow-flower-growing-alongside-U.S. Steel Creek. But you might have a more accurate name:

Admittedly, from this picture it’s hard to tell what it is, except that it’s yellow. Wish I could get those flowers to hold still …

Oh say can you osprey?

As promised, more wonderful submitted pictures.

Kurt Kuehn doesn’t want me to say exactly where these first two pictures were taken, since there’s a nest involved. Let’s just say somewhere in St. Louis County:

Kurt said he thinks both of the pictures are of ospreys. I’ve never seen an osprey, but both pictures certainly seem like a match to the ospreys in my bird book.

The next two were taken on the Sax-Zim bog, also by Kurt Kuehn. Can you identify these birds?

Your comments, pictures and stories welcome at:

Lifers on Grassy Point

Tony Mitchell had great success last Sunday at Grassy Point in West Duluth. Among his findings were four "lifers" (birds he had never seen before): hooded merganser, American coot, blue-winged teal and tree swallow. 

He also saw FOY (first-of-the-year) sandhill cranes. Plus: northern flickers, robins, Canada geese, a grackle, a song sparrow, mallards, ring-billed gulls, red-winged blackbirds, crows and chickadees.

As usual, he took some wonderful pictures. Here are a few of them:

An American coot

Sandhill cranes

Tree swallows

Blue-winged teals

I agree with Tony: Grassy Point is a wonderful place for checking out birds, especially water fowl. It’s off Leisure Street, which is off Waseca Industrial Road. It’s a great trail for a three- or four-generation family hike — short enough so it won’t try the patience of young children, and it’s very easy walking.

A couple of notes:

1. Even more photos came in earlier this week. I apologize for getting behind, but I didn’t want to run all of the pictures at once. I’m hoping to post more tomorrow.

2. I mentioned last week that I had finally seen my first, no-doubt-about-it raven, in Ely. Now I think there’s one hanging around my neighborhood in West Duluth. It has come as close as my deck, although it doesn’t stay long. I’m not absolutely sure it’s a raven, and I’m hoping to get more looks. But I think it is. It sure is big.

You can write to me at Pictures and bird stories are welcome.

Hey! Where’s the suet?

Bob Williams of Detroit Lakes, Minn., sent me this wonderful picture of a pileated woodpecker on Saturday:

The pileated seems a tad bit disappointed to find a suet feeder with no suet aboard, doesn’t it?

Beyond that, I can’t improve on the caption Bob sent:

I’m not the only big ol’ pecker in Detroit Lakes. Get a load of this Pileated Becker County beast.

Pictures, stories, comments welcome at (And thanks for your patience; I’m running a little behind.)

Department of Housing

Does anyone out there know anything about housing flycatchers?

Dianne Buelow, who lives in the Ashland area, writes that she has had great-crested flycatchers in her area each of the past two years. She thinks it was a pair, but they move around so much it’s hard to tell.

She plans to build a birdhouse in hopes they’ll settle in the neighborhood, although she adds that there are plenty of enticing dead trees in the area. She would like to know if anyone has had any luck getting flycatchers to move into their birdhouses. Ideas or expereinces, anyone?

Dianne has seen eagles, phoebes, evening grosbeaks and pine siskins in recent days.

Your observations and pictures always welcome at:



A sapsucker … and, finally, a raven

Several people have reported seeing yellow-bellied sapsuckers recently. Here’s photographic evidence, thanks to Kurt Kuehn:

Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that I’ve finally seen a raven.

It happened on Wednesday, when I was on a road trip with Bob King, aka Astro Bob. We were headed into Ely on one of the main drags when Bob pointed up and to the left, and pointed out a raven. It was sitting on top of a light post, regally surveying its domain as a light rain fell.

I’m glad that one is finally checked off my list.

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