Be kind to loons

Give the loons some leeway.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sent out a news release on Friday asking Minnesotans — and our guests — to watch out for common loons when you’re on the water this weekend. And give them some space.

The DNR says this is one of the two most hazardous weekends of the year for loons because they are incubating eggs just as the three-day weekend draws huge throngs of people to our lakes.

Here’s the guideline: Whether you’re in a boat, a canoe or a kayak, stay at least 100 feet away from loon nests to avoid scaring loons from their eggs. If the loon leaves the nest, crows, ravens or gulls could spot the exposed eggs and eat them before the loon returns.

And after all, the loon is our state bird.

The other problematic weekend, the DNR says, is around the Fourth of July holiday.

Your bird stories and pictures welcome at:

Warbler fallout

Kim Eckert and other serious birders are reporting a huge warbler fallout on Park Point today.

What that means is there are a lot of warblers, and lots of different kinds of them. In fact, Eckert — an author of books on birding — reported on the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s e-mail listserv that as of 5:15 this afternoon he had seen 25 warbler species on Park Point today. That’s out of 26 warbler species that are considered as migrants through Duluth.

With no knowledge of this, I took a stroll on the Western Waterfront Trail today, and I identified — ahem — one warbler species: several yellow warblers. But I saw other kinds of warblers; I just couldn’t identify them. I’m confident a more advanced birder could have counted at least a half-dozen warbler species. (I also saw my first Baltimore oriole and my first white-crowned sparrow of the year. And I heard either a northern mockingbird or a brown thrasher — it was one of those birds with a really broad repertoire.)

Eckert said that if we stay fogged in, all of those warbler species are likely to be around again on Tuesday. So if you have some time tomorrow, Park Point would be an excellent destination.


A red-faced wannabe

OK, might as well fess up.

Here at the News Tribune, we have an e-mail nanny. The e-mail nanny delights in telling me that my mailbox is full, that it can’t possible deliver one more item to my in box, or send one more item out. It commands a ritual cleansing of my e-mails. It’s not enough to delete e-mails, I have to delete deleted e-mails.

You know how that goes.

So the other day, I was purging everything in sight, trying to appease the e-mail nanny, and I was overzealous. I deleted e-mails from Kurt Kuehn and Lyle Anderson before I finished taking advantage of their contributions.

 I still have the pictures, but I don’t know which came from Kurt and which came from Lyle. The same was true for my previous post, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit it.

So here’s the final set, with sincere thanks, and apologies, to both contributors:

A trio of bluejays. (I always think bluejays look so military, as if they might be commanders in the Romanian army.)

Egalitarian dining: A finch (purple, I think) and a chickadee. At my feeders, the chickadees don’t usually brave close encounters with bigger birds.

Acrobatic goldfinches. Does it taste better upside down?

Another goldfinch gets a drink.

A wren looking for some tasty bugs.

And finally, one last picture, this of a rose-breasted grosbeak submitted this week by Dan Moller of Poplar:

Thanks, everyone! I’ll try to keep them straight next time.

Your bird observations and pictures earnestly welcomed at:


More bird photos

Continuing with bird photos that have come in these past few days from Kurt Kuehn and Lyle Anderson:

A tree swallow peeks out of its new home.

A catbird enjoys a snack.

A couple of male rose-breasted grosbeaks out for dinner.

The female rose-breasted grosbeak takes her turn.

And there still are more to come. Thanks so much for sharing, gentlemen.

Your bird photos and stories eagerly sought at


A cornucopia of bird photos

I came back from my weekend to a wonderful selection of bird photos from Kurt Kuehn and Lyle Anderson. There are so many, and they are so good, that I hardly know what to do. A few today and a few tomorrow might be the best approach.

So here we go:

Yes, they’re back. Lyle caught this picture of a hungry ruby-throated hummingbird at his feeder within the past couple of days.

And they’re back, too. Lyle, who lives on Park Point, found this Baltimore oriole, brilliant against the blue sky.

Kurt says this evening grosbeak was a lifer for him. I still haven’t seen my first one, and I’m looking forward to it. Such an exotic bird … it looks like it ought to be in a tropical rain forest. Kurt lives in the Lester Park neighborhood.

And this is the female evening grosbeak, Kurt says. I couldn’t have identified it, but it certainly has the grosbeak beak.

Much more to come …

Your comments, observations and pictures welcomed enthusiastically at:

Bird droppings

Bits and pieces from here and there:

  • Bernie St. George sent another of his collection of pictures from Hilltop Estates in Florida. This is a dove, and I’m thinking it’s specifically a mourning dove, although I don’t pretend to know my Florida doves:

  • Steven Seagull came back. The ring-billed gull showed up at the Super 8 Motel in West Duluth this spring for the ninth straight year, motel manager Jodi Chambers told me. But why not? A gull could do a lot worse than motel breakfast leftovers. Why plunge into cold Lake Superior waters for nasty little fish? There will be a story in the News Tribune within the next few days. You’ll want to find out about S. Seagull’s posse.
  • Have you put out your hummingbird feeders yet? I’ve been reading hummingbird reports from the Twin Cities, and with the sudden warmth I think I want to get mine out pretty quickly.
  • My mom is a big fan of the house wren and its loud, bubbly song. Every spring, Mom will say, "I hear Jenny Wren." So I saw and heard wrens when I was growing up. But strangely enough, I had never seen or heard one in Duluth and didn’t have it on my "life list." Until today, when a house wren was exploring my deck. Too bad I don’t have a house for it.
  • The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology has its own "channel" on YouTube, and it’s definitely worth a look and a listen. Here’s the link:

Your pictures and bird reports always welcome at

Fun in the Twin Cities

I know, I know. "Fun" and "Twin Cities" don’t seem to go together.

But if you happen to be in the metro area this weekend with time on your hands, check out the Urban Birding Festival, sponsored by the Saint Paul Audubon Society. The festival began Thursday and continues through Sunday. The focus is guided bird hikes in various places. Some of those hikes on Sunday afternoon will be at the Arden Hills Army Training site, which isn’t usually open to the public.

Everything is free and no registration is required except for a luncheon on Saturday at the Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, which isn’t free and which does require registration.

You can learn more at the Saint Paul Audubon Society’s website:

Your birding observations and pictures always welcome at:

Raptors on Pike Lake

Tiffany Venne and her family put their pontoon boat out on Pike Lake on Mother’s Day. Tiffany, who started watching hawks a couple of years ago and said she is learning about other types of birds in the area this year.

So she took her binoculars along, and this is what she reports:

"After spying the ever present Mallards and Loons, I spotted a couple female Common Mergansers. I had seen them a few weeks ago while kayaking. Then, the "ladies" were accompanied by a single male. It was my first time ever seeing a Common Merganser and thought that they were just passing through. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see them still on the lake a few weeks later.

"Later in the afternoon, I took a walk around the lake. I watched a couple Eagles ride a thermal up and then part ways. I generally don’t stop walking, but when I heard a chirping/pipping sound, I paused to find the source. Up in the tree I spotted an Osprey. It bounced its head to the right, and then to the left. It chirped once more and dove toward me. With a wing span of at least five feet, it flew right over my head giving me a great view of the underside markings. It was carrying some sort of rodent in its talons and I watched it fly gracefully down the road.

"Of course the Osprey was the highlight of my day (aside from spending time with my mother on Mother’s Day) but I was glad to see the Mergansers are planning on sticking around. "

Pike Lake obviously is a good spot for bird watching. Here’s another one: Target Field.

Contributors to the Minnesota Ornithologist Union’s e-mail listserv reported the sky over the stadium was filled with chimney swifts during the Twins’ Saturday afternoon game. And a kestrel apparently has been showing up for night games, perching on the right field foul (fowl?) pole.

So there you have it: another reason the new stadium is better than the Metrodome.

Write to me (and send pictures if you’d like) at:


Just the other day, Bob King and I were discussing the fact that warblers apparently hadn’t arrived in the Northland.

Since then, there have been a number of warbler reports from the Duluth area on the Minnesota Ornithologist Union’s e-mail list-serv.

And earlier this week, Kurt Kuehn spotted this:

When I first saw the picture, I thought it might be a goldfinch. But Kurt said it definitely wasn’t a goldfinch, and he suggested that it might be a yellow warbler. I see what he means, especially now that I’m noticing those little red stripes that always make me think of pajama bottoms. Since the red stripes trail off quickly, I’m guessing this is a female.

Your observations and pictures always enjoyed by: