Waxwings on Park Point

Lyle Anderson shared these pictures he took on Monday of waxwings hanging outside his house on Park Point:

Lyle counted about 20 waxwings on the trees, but said he wasn’t sure if they were Bohemians or cedars. I’m thinking they look more like cedars, and I also think I recall someone saying the Bohemians tend to prefer being up in the ridges. But are cedar waxwings even around northern Minnesota at this time of the year? I’m sure someone out there can resolve those questions.

And now an abrupt switch from waxwings to raptors. That’s because the U.S. Postal Service is honoring five raptors with a series of stamps next year. You can find them on the “Beyond the Perf” philatelic website, between “Carmel Mission” and “Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.” Or you can go directly to the five stamps here:

What is your favorite raptor? Your comments, questions, pictures and observations happily received at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Shortest days

Even during the shortest days of the years, birds can provide unexpected moments of joy.
On Monday, as I was walking along Central Avenue in West Duluth, I distinctly heard a chickadee singing the “Spring-time” song. Once. Twice. Maybe three times.
Confused chickadee, maybe. I’d prefer to think of it as hopeful.
Then this morning, as I was sitting at my table reading Scriptures, I heard a “thump” “thump” “thump” on the deck. I looked up and saw that a pileated woodpecker was studying my suet log. After viewing it from all angles, Woody perched on the log and sampled the suet. Sadly, he didn’t stick around for pictures. But there’s a lot of winter ahead, and if he liked what he tasted, he’ll be back.

Countdown to the Count

It’s one week until the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for Duluth. I’ve been told it might well include an unusual sighting for this time of year: a red-winged blackbird.
Red-winged blackbirds ought to be long gone by now, but at least one was still hanging around in the Miller Hill Mall area during the past week. It’s not good news, because chances of a red-winged blackbird surviving a winter in the Northland are slim. But it will be interesting to see if the species makes the list.
The count, billed as the longest-running “citizen science” survey in the world, covers all of North America, with counts taking place in individual communities and regions anywhere from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.
Participating can be as easy as looking out your window and recording what you see to the website. And you can get to the website here:

Your bird photos, stories and questions always welcome at: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Coming right at you

Bernie St. George forwarded to me this fascinating video of an eagle owl coming right at the camera in super-slow motion. It’s hard to watch this short video and not flinch, especially when the talons open up just before the video ends. You can see for yourself here:
I had never heard of an eagle owl, and neither had my bird books. My research (a Google search) indicated why: the Eurasian eagle owl is strictly an Old World creature.

So you probably won’t see an eagle owl during the Great Backyard Bird Count, but you might see a northern hawk owl, which would be just as cool. As the “backyard” part of the name indicates, you don’t really have to go anywhere or do anything out of the ordinary to participate. All you need to do is keep track of the birds you see on one day — in Duluth, bird count day is Dec. 17 — and submit your list to the Great Backyard Bird Count website, here:

Bird stories, pictures and videos greeted with delight here: jlundy@duluthnews.com.