… and a turkey in an apple tree

An e-mail from Michelle Weegman somehow made me think of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I don’t know if it was the eight turkeys they see daily at Graham Lake near Holyoke or the single turkey in an ornamental apple tree in this picture:

That’s one big bird to have in an ornamental apple tree.

Your bird pictures and stories welcomed with open arms at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.


The death of thousands of red-winged blackbirds in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve caught a lot of media attention, but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it was misplaced.
The Jan. 24 Cornell Lab eNews notes that the “Aflockalypse” — I don’t know if Cornell Lab coined that term, but I certainly didn’t — killed off 5,000 red-winged blackbirds. But that’s out of a U.S. population of 210 million. The implication: Sad to see all of those dead birds at once, but the red-winged blackbird is nowhere close to being a threatened species.
Moreover, eNews reports, the U.S. Geological Survey has recorded 188 events during the past 10 years involving at least 1,000 dead birds. So the quirky red-winged blackbird die-off isn’t all that unusual or significant.
Instead, eNews says, we should focus our concern about species that really are threatened.
Among them:
* Rusty blackbirds have declined by 95 percent since the 1960s, a population decline in the tens of millions.
* The ivory gull has suffered a dramatic decline in arctic Canada during the past decade.
* The northern bobwhite has declined by 75 percent over the past 40 years because of lost favorable habitat.
* Endangered golden-cheeked warblers depend on ash-juniper woodlands that are being cleared for agriculture and development in Texas.
On the other hand, bald eagles have made a tremendous comeback during the past three decades, thanks to conservation efforts.
For more from the Cornell Lab, go here.

Your bird photos and stories earnestly anticipated at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

News worth trumpeting

Here’s a bit of good news in the midst of a cold month: Minnesota’s trumpeter swan population is growing impressively.
The Associated Press reports that the state’s trumpeter swan numbers have doubled in just five years. That’s quite a comeback for a breed that once was hunted to extinction in the state.
The news comes from a survey that’s conducted every five years, most recently from Jan. 5-8 this year. The survey found more than 5,300 trumpeter swans in 14 counties, but the actual number is estimated at 5,500 — something to do with Minnesota trumpeter swans that spend the winter in western Ontario.
The estimate in 2005 was more than 2,000 trumpeter swans.
The Three Rivers Park District coordinated the survey in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Nongame Wildlife Program and The Trumpeter Swan Society, AP reported.

Pining for grosbeaks

Diane Spicer, who lives near Caribou Lake, sent this picture of pine grosbeaks at her feeder:

Diane writes that she hadn’t had grosbeaks at her feeder for quite a while.
I’ve never had them, as far as I know.
Pine grosbeaks are high on my wanna-see list.
I went for a stroll on the Western Waterfront Trail yesterday, thinking I might see a pileated woodpecker. The only animal life I saw was a friendly dog pulling a sled with a child on it. The dog rushed ahead of its owners to investigate me, and the leash attached to the sled got wrapped around the snowshoes.
But we got it sorted out.

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

Feed the … deer?

Kristina Maki’s picture, taken in Saginaw, Minn., illustrates a problem familiar to many:

You try to feed the birds, but the deer help themselves. They snarf up the food as fast as you can put it out, and they destroy the feeders in the process.
It hasn’t been a problem for me — so far. My feeders are attached to my deck, and the deer either haven’t figured out that there’s food up there are haven’t been bold enough to go for it.
But for many of you, it’s a big problem. My parents in Estherville, Iowa, are having a running battle with deer. A small female feeds off the ground, and they don’t mind that. The big buck feeds off the feeder. The more often they chase it away, the more it seems to realize they don’t pose any real danger. So it gives them that look of incomprehension, wanders off a few feet and goes back to the food as soon as the noise is over.
So dear readers (pun intended), I put it to you: Have you found a way to discourage the deer while continuing to feed the birds.
Your solutions, as well as any failed attempts, would be enlightening, I’m sure.
You can write to me, and send pictures, at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Big, bigger, biggest

I can’t improve on the title Diane Spicer put as the subject of her e-mail: “Big, bigger, biggest.”
Diane, who lives near Caribou Lake, said woodpeckers of all three sizes love the suet:

I think that’s a downy in the top photo and a hairy in the middle. No question that it’s a pileated in the bottom picture.

Your bird photos and stories greeted royally at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Who’s singing?

Kurt Kuehn of Duluth’s Lester Park neighborhood made this observation with his ears.
This is the question Kurt raised in an e-mail today:
“I was out in my backyard this morning, and I heard a bird singing! It has to be a mating song. He repeated it for a long time. It was: Tweet-Tweeeeeeet…tweet. Repeated and then tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet for a while. It’s not a chickadee, nuthatch, redpoll or sisken. What could this confused bird be?”
I told Kurt that I’ve heard reports of someone hearing that famous chickadee mating call — SPRING-time — in the Twin Cities recently, or maybe it was in southern Minnesota.
I keep trying my own SPRING-time whistle in the backyard of the Wannabe Ranch, hoping the local chickadees will get the hint. But they’re having nothing to do with it.
I don’t have a clue about what bird Kurt might be hearing.
And do the birds know something we don’t know? Early spring, anyone?

Your bird stories, pictures and tweets gleefully welcomed at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Red and white

Lyle Anderson of the Park Point neighborhood captured these beautiful images of white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches at his feeders last week:

Lyle says both varieties show up a few times a day. The red-breasted likes to feed on the upside-down suet feeder (as shown) and the white-breasted prefers the peanut feeder.
Lyle also has been getting a lot of chickadees. And the other day, Lyle says, he saw a robin … but it disappeared before he got his camera.
I’m still seeing an occasional white-breasted nuthatch but no red-breasted nuthatches, which is very unusual my my yard in the winter.
Did you make a new year’s birding resolution? A particular bird you’d like to see? A place you’d like to go to see birds? Did you target a certain number of first-time-ever birds, or a total number of species you’d like to see this year? Is this the year you’re going to volunteer at Hawk Ridge? Tell me about it: jlundy@duluthnews.com.