Raptor researchers at the Radisson

Raptor researchers will be flocking to Duluth’s Radisson Hotel in a couple of weeks.
More than 250 biologists, wildlife managers, educators, government agents, students and enthusiasts are expected for the 2011 annual meeting of the Raptor Research Foundation Oct. 5-9 at the Radisson, according to Visit Duluth. More than 100 foundation members will present their most recent research.
Hosts are Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute, the Duluth Audubon Society and the UMD Biology Department.
I have to think that with fall migration season still under way and Hawk Ridge so close, those researchers won’t be spending all of their time downtown.
According to Visit Duluth, The Raptor Research Foundation is a nonprofit scientific society with more than 950 members in more than 50 countries.

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

Tom’s grebe

Tom Thompson and his wife live on a small lake in the Brimson area. They went for a casual cruise on their boat in Monday’s beautiful weather, he writes, keeping their eyes peeled for loons.
Instead, they came across this:

Tom said he thinks the bird is a Clark’s grebe. “My book indicates it is a bit too far east for it but I don’t believe it looks like anything else,” Tom writes. “The picture is taken from a distance while in a boat so it isn’t perfectly clear, but the markings seem unmistakable. I would assume it is migrating.”
I’m no grebe expert, but in one of my books the Clark’s grebe appears more gray, black and white than the bird in Tom’s picture. (My other bird book, the one I bought off a rack at a grocery store 30 years ago, doesn’t even show a Clark’s grebe.) I wonder if Tom’s bird could be a red-necked grebe. One of the grebes of that sort pictured in my book has similar colors to the one in Tom’s picture, although the grebe in the book also sports a Harpo Marx haircut.
Thoughts, anyone?

And while I’m asking for thoughts, I’ll add another question. I’ve had a single, male, rose-breasted grosbeak hanging out at my feeders for about a week. It’s fond of the safflower, and it feeds calmly in the midst of the usual house finches. It seems odd that it’s alone and odd that it’s hanging around. Is it late for rose-breasted grosbeaks in Northeastern Minnesota?

Answers, thoughts, pictures and stories enthusiastically welcomed at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Hawk Weekend

It’s hard to believe — at least it’s hard for me to believe — that it’s already Hawk Weekend at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.
But so it is. Today through Sunday, raptors reign at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve in Duluth. There are speakers, field trips and seminars for those who registered in advance. For the rest of us, we can simply drive, bike or hike up to Hawk Ridge, enjoy the views, watch the raptors fly overhead and benefit from the presence of interpreters who know a kestrel from a marlin and can tell us how to spot them long before we might see them otherwise.
It’s a kid-friendly event, and this is what they’ll like best: Occasionally, an interpreter will bring out a just-banded raptor and offer folks a chance to adopt it. For a fee, you get to release the bird back into flight and get your picture taken doing it. If you don’t adopt, the up-close look at the bird is free.
All of this takes place at the Hawk Ridge Main overlook, which is on Skyline Parkway about a mile off Glenwood Street. The city’s attractive new Skyline Parkway signs went up this week just in time to help you along the way.
For more help, a link to a map and directions is here.

Your birds stories and pictures always welcome at jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Park Point pelicans

Kelly Ryberg grew up on Park Point, but she had never seen pelicans there — until this morning.
Kelly and her husband, who are visiting her mom on Park Point, went for a walk on the beach this morning in the vicinity of 25th Street. They spotted a line of birds in the distance, and they didn’t look like gulls. Kelly writes: “It was intriguing enough that it prompted me to jog toward them, worrying that they would fly away before we could see them. (I never jog.)”
They were surprised to see, when they got close enough, about 30 American white pelicans. Her husband ran back for a camera, and when get got back to the beach caught these pictures as the pelicans flew off:

“We were kind of surprised that they flew in kind of a V formation,” Kelly writes. “Does this usually happen? I grew up on Park Point, and I’ve never seen pelicans around here before.”
I hear pelican reports every so often, although I’ve only seen one flock. That was on the little lake along Highway 23 near the Fon Du Lac neighborhood. Bird books show Northeastern Minnesota as being a little east of their primary range.
By the way, I don’t jog, either. I might jog to see pelicans, but I’m not altogether sure that I would.

Your bird photos and stories joyously received at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.