Oh, cedars!

I don’t often relay things I pick up from the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s e-mail listserv because, after all, it’s on the Web already. But some things seem noteworthy enough to pass along, and this is one of them:

Cameron Rutt reported seeing 3,300 cedar waxwings migrating through Duluth on Saturday.

Impressive. But wait. There’s more.

On Sunday morning, counting for four hours from the roof of an apartment building in the Lakeside neighborhood, Cameron Rutt and three colleagues saw 11,661 cedar waxwings come through.

That leaves the previous record count of cedar waxwings in Minnesota in the dust. The old record: 3,882, counted on Sept. 17, 1985, at Lakewood Pumping Station.

Whew.

Your bird stories and pictures welcome at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

A plug for Hawk Ridge

Kurt Kuehn, one of the frequent contributors to this blog, is volunteering at Hawk Ridge this year.

They’ll be set up for the annual fall migration by Wednesday, Kurt writes, and Hawk weekend will be Sept. 17-19. He’d like people to consider membership in Hawk Ridge. “There are no magic funding sources,” he writes. “Almost all the revenue is raised through memberships and raptor adoptions.”

And if you adopt it …

… you might get to release it.

You can learn all about Hawk Ridge here: http://www.hawkridge.org/

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Birds do the darndest things

One of the many cool things the Cornell Ornithology Lab does is an annual photo contest of birds’ nests. You might think of it as a statue or a garden hoe or the tire of your farm tractor or the gas grill. But a bird might think of it as the perfect place to build a nest — especially if it doesn’t show signs of recent use.
If you follow the link, you’ll note that the pictures are small. To get a better view, click on the name next to the picture. You’ll get a larger image along with the photographer’s story.
You can find it here.

Hummers, curious yellow and LBJs

Tommye Easty of Pequaywan Lake sent this picture of hummingbirds at the feeders:

Tommye has counted as many as 11 hummers in flight and on the feeders. “They are so much fun to watch.” And they sure have plenty of places to get nectar!
The next two are from Kurt Kuehn. Kurt describes this first one as “some kind of warbler,” and I’ll be even more technical and call it “some kind of yellow-colored warbler.”

It’s hard enough to identify warblers in the spring. It’s even harder in the fall, when they’ve put on their duller colors. And this definitely is fall as far as warblers are concerned. Does anyone know what kind of warbler it is?
And while you’re at it, how about this group of birds from Kurt, which I’m labeling LBJs — Little Brown Jobs:

Kurt writes: “Some little birds. Maybe redpolls? Look kind of like juncos. Just don’t know!”
I would be surprised if they were redpolls, because I think they should be in far northern Canada at this time of the year. But I just don’t know, either. Any ideas?

Send your bird stories and pictures to me at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Hummers

One of the things I don’t think I could ever grow tired of is watching hummingbirds.
I’ve been blessed recently with steady hummingbird traffic on my nectar feeder. There may be only two hummers. That is the most I’ve seen at once, and when there are two at a time one quickly chases off the other.
But I never have to wait long before a hummingbird appears at my feeder. I’m rewarded with a wonderful view, because the feeder is hanging just outside the sliding door to my dining room.
For whatever reason, hummingbirds have been only sporadic visitors to the feeders I’ve had out in previous years. So now that I’m finally get regulars, I’m obsessive about trying to please them. Has the nectar been out too long? Is it too cold? Too warm? Is there enough left to last the day? Am I using the right water:sugar ratio? (I always go with 4:1.)
But the hummingbirds don’t seem to be all that fussy.
Bob King and I covered the Duluth Air Show a few Saturdays ago, and we were impressed by those amazing flying machines and what the highly skilled pilots could do with them. But we agreed that they’ve got nothing on hummingbirds.
They hover. They zip forward, backwards, up, down. Their wings move constantly, far too fast to follow with the naked eye. A hummingbird’s wings beat 60 to 80 times per second in normal flight. In a courtship dive it can accelerate to 200 times per second. And occasionally, miraculously, it comes to a complete rest. But never for long.
And consider this: The ruby-throated hummingbird (that’s the only kind we normally see in the Northland) that’s feeding on my nectar will be somewhere in Central America for Christmas. This tiny creature, 3.5 inches from tip of bill to tip of tail, weighing less than a nickel, will somehow cover all that distance. Let’s say it travels from Duluth to Galveston, Texas — 1,380 miles. Then it crosses the Gulf of Mexico in a single, 525-mile flight. And then perhaps 1,000 miles more to somewhere in Central America. That a journey of 2,905 miles.
There’s a line, I think, in “Peter Pan,” in which the children in the audience are asked: “Do you believe in fairies?”
I say: I know hummingbirds are real, so why not fairies?
You may have seen this video, but it might be worth seeing again. It shows someone in Kentucky feeding a hummingbird by hand:
\"Hand-feeding a hummingbird\"

Your bird stories and pictures are always welcome at: jlundy@duluthnews.com

A bird in the hand …

Here are a couple of pictures sent in from Bernie St. George.
The first, he says, is a baby grosbeak rescued after slamming into a screen. Young drivers, sheesh.
Bernie says the young’un flew off safely after being nursed back to health for about an hour.

And this bald eagle posed majestically in a 100-foot-tall white pine for about three hours, Bernie said.

Your bird pictures and stories eagerly welcomed at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

More mysteries

A couple of mysteries came in over the past couple of weeks. Here’s a mystery bird from Kurt Kuehn:

And this one is from Bernie St. George:

But there’s no mystery about this young crow, also from Bernie:

As you may have noticed, area voices has made some changes. It might take a few days for me to get caught up with it. But you can write to me, and send pictures, at the same old place: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Thanks for sharing …

Kim Homick of Duluth shared this picture of a barred owl perchd on a tree in the backyard one April morning:

It posed for pictures for a long time (perhaps nonplussed by the cow slippers Kim was wearing), but once it left, it never returned. How very owl-like.

Now, I have to warn you before you look at this next picture, submitted by Mark O’Neill of Superior: There is nature in it. Perhaps worse, there’s also s__w in it. (Mark took this picture on Highway 13 in Wisconsin in February of 2009.)

It also provides a wonderful view of a pileated woodpecker:

And finally: If you’ve never seen a scarlet tanager, this might be a good time to take a stroll in Hartley Park. Duane Perry tells me he saw two males — one probably a juvenile — in the park the other day. Don’t wait long: It’s fall migration season, and tanagers are among the earlier departures.

If you don’t know what scarlet tanagers look like, you can check out a wonderful picture, along with many other reader-submitted bird pictures, in the Scrapbook section of Sunday’s Duluth News Tribune.

And you can always write to me at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.