They hatch what?

In response to my recent complaint about not seeing red-breasted nuthatches, Gerry Sibell said he has had four of them all fall in his backyard. “They absolutely love the Butter Bark that I buy at Wild Birds Unlimited in Duluth,” Gerry writes.
He has had two white-breasted nuthatches this fall as well. Here’s one of them:

And here’s one of the red-breasted nuthatches:

Gerry said the red-breasted nuthatches typically will stay all winter, while the white-breasted nuthatches tend to come and go.
He adds: “I haven’t seen any pine siskins or redpolls yet. They are always a treat to see, but they sure do break my budget for bird feed with how they go through the thistle!”
Agreed. On the winters when I get redpolls, they usually don’t show up until January or February. But once they come, I can’t keep up with them.
Thanks for the wonderful pictures, Gerry.

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Flocking to Park Point

Earlier this week, a flock of pine siskins invaded Lyle Anderson’s feeders on Park Point for about two hours, then left as suddenly as they arrived. For those two hours, “they were all over — on the feeders, on the ground and in the trees,” Lyle writes.
Fortunately, he got a couple of pictures:

As I look at these pictures, I realize the finches I had on my thistle feeders for a couple of mornings this week probably also were siskins. It was still pretty dark when they came by, and I didn’t get a real good look.
Lyle also has had some nuthatches, and got a picture of this one:

I’ve seen several white-breasted nuthatches like this one, but I haven’t yet seen a red-breasted nuthatch so far this fall/winter season. Has anyone?

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Vain cardinal

Joan Duff of Duluth is beginning her third winter in the Northland after many years in central Florida.
She has enjoyed watching birds in both places, she writes, including this cardinal with a fixation on … itself:

“One cardinal — who was hatched and raised in the busy area near my open carport — fell in love with my red car … or rather his reflection in the driver’s mirror of my red car,” Joan writes. “It would sit and look at itself, slobber regurgitated food all over the door (required frequent cleaning before an errand drive) and would bring bits of grass to offer its ‘beloved’ — I often found a grass-shred collection scattered by the side of the car. It obviously resented me taking the car out anywhere and would be waiting patiently for its return.”
In this photo, the cardinal is glaring at Joan, daring her to take its “beloved” away.
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Seeing red

Lyle Anderson, who lives on Park Point, has been seeing red in the bushes just beyond his backyard. Here’s why:

When I first saw Lyle’s picture, I thought this bird might be a mate for the female cardinal that has been hanging around my backyard in West Duluth. But Lyle reports he also has seen a female cardinal in his area, too.
I haven’t seen a male, but the female seems to show up every day, mostly nibbling on safflower in my tray feeder. I’ve also been feeding juncos, various sparrows, the usual house finches, the usual chickadees, starlings, pigeons, squirrels, deer (the latter four unintentionally) and — just recently — a new wave of goldfinches in the thistle feeders. There might be a pine siskin or two there as well.

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In denial

What do two GPS-equipped golden eagles being tracked by Audubon Minnesota have in common with me?
We’re all in denial about the approach of winter.
Both of the eagles are exhibiting “I refuse to acknowledge winter or my need to migrate” behavior, said Mark Martell, director of bird conservation for Audubon Minnesota, in a news release.
You might remember Eagle 42, aka Whitey. That’s the eagle we kept waiting to see cross over Hawk Ridge last fall, only to have it veer off to the west at the last minute. It did pass over Duluth on its way back north last spring.
As of Friday morning, Whitey was still way up in Quebec, having slowly meandered 310 miles south since Oct. 24. Last year, Martell said, he began his fall migration on Oct. 6 and covered 1,400 miles of his 1,750-mile journey in the first 16 days. He reached his winter home in southwestern Wisconsin by Nov. 2.
Here’s Martell’s map of Whitey’s current whereabouts:

Meanwhile, Eagle 44, aka Fairchild, has been even more loath to leave. Fairchild is still in her summer home, Martell said. It’s getting difficult to track her, because her transmitter is solar-powered and there’s only an eight-hour window of daylight where she is now. “One has to wonder when she will find there is too little daylight to hunt as well,” Martell wrote.

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