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About John Lundy

John Lundy covers health and health-related issues for The Duluth News Tribune. He's a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.

-30-

“-30-” is the way we old-school journalists used to let our editors know we were at the end of our story. We wrote our stories on these curious devices known as “typewriters.”
They were pretty neat. I never knew one to crash or lock up. They never stopped working while a spinning wheel appeared in front of my eyes. Each typewriter had its own printer. Some of them even ran without electricity. Nothing to plug in; no battery to charge.
You’d finish the story, pull it out of the typewriter and scrawl “-30-” on the bottom before handing it to the editor, who had the satisfaction of marking it with a thick, black pencil.
Editors were a lot happier in those days, I think.
So I headed this post with “-30-” because it’s the end of the Wannabe Birder.
The decision, entirely my own, comes with mixed feelings. If it had just been me writing my thoughts and observations about birds, there would be no such mixed feelings. Frankly, if it had just been that, I would have gotten bored with this blog a long time ago.
But the delightful comments and stories and wonderful pictures that came from all over made this blog a joy to produce.
One such contribution arrived in the mail just yesterday:

This portrait of a chickadee was taken by Lynn Laveau Lund through her kitchen window in Cloquet. “I’m glad it was clean!” Lynn wrote about that window.
Me, too.
Lynn’s picture was the first I can recall coming in the real mail instead of via email.
We got lots of real mail when we used typewriters.
But back to closing the blog: When I started writing it five-something years ago, my job responsibilities at the Duluth News Tribune were much different than they are now.
My reporting gig has made it increasingly difficult to find time for the blog. That has been all the more true as I’ve focused more and more of my attention on covering health, a topic that just seems to keep getting bigger.
In fact, as I’ve reported on health I’ve come across all sorts of things that would be ideal for a blog. So if you have any interest in health-related subjects, please join me on my new health news blog, which will be launching on Area Voices soon.
One detail that hasn’t been worked out is the name, but it definitely won’t be called the Wannabe Doctor.
We’re not totally killing the birder blog, and I’m told this post and all that preceded it will remain on the Internet for, you know, a long time.
Thank you for reading and thanks, especially, to those who contributed and made this a lot of fun.

Gone South

Bernard St. George apparently has gone south to Florida, and so have the bluebirds.
He caught this nifty shot of a female bluebird:

Bernard says that the homey looking birdhouse was built by Trevor Weston.

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

Twin Cities oasis

You might live in the Twin Cities, or you might be planning a visit there sometime in the next two or three weeks.
Your visit might include eating, shopping, watching your favorite team play, attending a concert or going to the theater.
All of this is good, but it’s nice to know there’s a quieter side to the metro area as well.
The National Wildlife Refuge System, in a news release, lists the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge as a place where you might see wild turkeys at this time of the year. How cool would that be as you work off or get ready for your Thanksgiving meal?
Minnesota Valley covers nearly 70 miles of the Minnesota River corridor from Bloomington to Henderson. The news release recommends starting at the Bloomington Visitor Center and taking the half-mile Hillside Trail to connect to Long Meadow Lake Trail.
It follows a floodplain wetland where you might spot coyote, deer, waterfowl, songbirds and woodpeckers in addition to wild turkeys.
There’s no admission fee and the refuge will be open on Thanksgiving Day, although the visitor center won’t be.
To get there from Duluth, take Interstate 35 South and then I-35E South. Merge onto I-494 West. Exit on 34th Avenue and head south. When you get to American Boulevard East travel east for one-quarter mile. The entrance will be on the right.

Your bird photos and stories welcome at jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Broken leg

The birds feeding outside the Lundy ranch in West Duluth have lately included a young starling with a broken leg.
The leg hangs uselessly to one side as it uses its other leg to hop about on my deck floor, scrounging for millet and other bits of food. It can fly, but it can’t perch. It tries to get succulent bits of suet out of my suet log by flying close and stabbing at it with its beak, but it isn’t successful.
Apparently, the other starlings are Darwinists, because they make no effort to help the gimpy-legged member of the flock survive. Another starling found a nice bit of suet on the deck floor the other day, and when one-leg hopped in that direction the other bird chased it away.
I’m not optimistic about the disabled starling’s survival opportunities. I expect to find its corpse on the deck or on the lawn one morning. Hasn’t happened yet.
I won’t do what a friend of a friend did when she came across a robin with a broken wing outside her house. She brought in the robin and provided food and water until the wing healed, keeping her cats confined. The cats must have thought this was terribly unfair.
The robin did heal and flew away when released, and then announced itself from the branch of a nearby tree when it returned the following spring, the friend’s friend reported.
I doubt that I would have gone through that much effort. I certainly wouldn’t do it for a starling with a broken leg.
But I find myself pulling for it. I’ve followed Minnesota sports teams long enough to hope that when the odds are against a critter it can somehow come out on top.

Your bird photos and stories jovially welcomed at jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Raptors

I don’t know if I’ll ever learn to identify raptors.
I look through the raptors on my life list — red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, broad-winged hawk and a few others — and most of them are on the list only because they were pointed out by one of the experts at the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.
In some cases, I might have seen the raptor on my own, but I never would have been able to identify it.
More often, Erik Bruhnke, or one of the other naturalists, has spotted the bird long before I knew it existed and identified it when it still wasn’t much more than a speck in the horizon.
“There’s a red-tailed hawk,” he’ll alert visitors, and then offer precise directions about where to point our binoculars and spotting scopes.
Such was the case on Monday, when I paid a midmorning visit to Hawk Ridge. The largest waves of migrating hawks have passed through, but there’s still plenty of activity. And I had hopes of seeing one of the later migrants: a northern goshawk or golden eagle.
One of my many failings as a birder is a lack of patience. There wasn’t much going on when I arrived, and I got itchy feet. So I spent 90 minutes or so hiking the trails that wind around Hawk Ridge and connect it to Amity Creek and still more trails.
When I got back to the ridge around noon, things had picked up. Erik quickly pointed out a bald eagle, followed by two or three red-tails, and a broad-winged hawk and a sharp-shinned hawk, as well as a flock of robins hurrying through.
Two or three more red-tails would come through every minute or so.
I asked Erik about northern goshawks and golden eagles. They were on my list because I’d never seen either one. Yes, northern goshawks could definitely be seen at this time of October, he said. Peak time for golden eagles is around Halloween.
Like the hawks, I was thinking about lunch, and I started to head toward my car. But I was still within earshot when I heard Erik say, “Northern goshawk overhead.”
I looked up, and by this time it was directly over my head, and clearly visible to the naked eye. My first impression was that it was flying lower and faster than the other raptors I’d seen. It made me think of an arrow shot from a bow. This probably isn’t what I would think if I were more familiar with northern goshawks, but it’s what first came to mind.
I circled back to the group, and a young woman spotted a second goshawk following the same course.
So in about 30 minutes spent actually on the ridge, I saw one lifer, twice.
Here’s a photo of a northern goshawk from the National Audubon Society:

Naturalists and volunteers are at Hawk Ridge daily through Oct. 31. You can learn more about it here:
And while you’re at it, you can learn about Erik Bruhnke’s Naturally Avian birding tours and photography here:

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

Youth movement

As promised, here are a couple of more photos from Bernie St. George. What they have in common is youth:

Bernie says he took this picture of a juvenile eagle on their 150-year-old white pine at the St. George homestead on Beauregard Lake in Douglas County, Wis.
This second photo from Bernie is decidedly not a bird, but I found it too cute to resist.

This baby snapper was one of 13 he watched on their way to the lake, Bernie reports.

There’s no partial shutdown for the Wannabe Birder. At least, no more than usual. Send your bird photos and stories to: jlundy@duluthnews.com.

Can you name this celebrity?

If you live in the Duluth area and you feed birds, there’s a good chance you can tell me who this is:

The old boy is 21 years old, says Bernie St. George, who shared this photo of him.
Bernie offered several other fun pictures, but I thought I’d stick with this one for now.
Recognize the celebrity, anyone?

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

Butter butt

Bob King aka Astro Bob, shared this wonderful image of a yellow-rumped warbler, aka butter butt:

Bob, who is also chief photographer of the Duluth News Tribune, took this photo this morning in Lakewood Township. He said the bird was part of a small flock in a group of spruce trees, possibly feeding on seeds.

Birding for me has been slow lately. I haven’t made it up to Hawk Ridge yet this fall. I’ve been waiting for October; my goal is to see a goshawk and/or a golden eagle. But I say that every year.
My recent highlight was during a stroll on the Western Waterfront Trail on Friday, when I got to watch a pair of pileated woodpeckers hunting for insects on the same tree. It was the first time I’ve seen two at once.

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

Number 109

My birding has been mostly uneventful as of late.
At the Wannabe Ranch in West Duluth, I seem to be feeding mostly chipmunks and squirrels — and possibly a mystery critter that left some, uh, interesting scat on my deck the other night.
I still see an occasional hummingbird, but they seem to be in passing-through mode now.
Earlier this month, I spent a few days at L’Abri House in Rochester, Minn. It’s actually two houses on 10 wooded hilltop acres. I regretted not bringing my binoculars, because I’m sure I could have seen lots of activity.
No binoculars were needed to spot cardinals. They were as common there as chickadees are up here. I also heard the “meow” of a catbird. That was about it.
I spotted a catbird in the woods near my house a few weeks ago. They’re fairly common, but some years I don’t see a single one.
And on a hike a few weeks ago in the Tettegouche Camp area of Lake County I scored a personal “lifer”: a pair of pine warblers.
They must have been in their first year, because they were rather nondescript. But they matched the picture in my bird book. And they were in a pine tree.
So my modest list is now up to 109 species.

Speaking of lists, I almost forgot about the ongoing list of great birding sites at national wildlife refuges as reported in a National Wildlife Refuge System news release.
Here are a couple from the Midwest:
* Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on Lake Erie in northwestern Ohio. Ottawa claims to be “warbler capital of the world,” thanks to 38 species that pass through from late April through late May. It’s also a great spot for bald eagles. And, huge flocks of dunlins have been seen in the Crane Creek estuary as they travel between Arctic breeding and coastal wintering grounds.One more thing: It’s host for the Biggest Week in American Birding Festival in early May. Read about that here: And learn more about Ottawa Wildlife Refuge here:
* Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge is in north central Minnesota (the closest towns are Detroit Lakes and Park Rapids). It’s a habitat for migratory birds, including more than 30 nesting pairs of trumpeter swans, a species that once had disappeared from Minnesota. They are best seen from April through October. NOTE: The refuge’s visitor center is temporarily closed for an energy retrofit. Read more about Tamarac here:

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

From turkeys to hummers

It’s hard to know where to start, except to say: Thank you.
Pictures and comments have come in over the past couple of weeks from various directions, and particularly during the past day or so on the subject of hummingbirds.
But let’s go from large to small.
John Boland sent me a note earlier this month about the wild turkeys he saw — about four hens and about 10 poults — crossing the road in front of him at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Park Rapids, Minn. They were headed to the fields in the Antique Tractor Club grounds, John writes, and when he came back 10 minutes later with a camera they had settled into a grain field.
A couple of the photos didn’t translate well into this blog’s format. But check out this magnificent hen:

Let’s stay big, with Bernie St. George’s picture of a bald eagle on Lake Beauregard in Wisconsin:

Bernie says this loon came within 10 feet of his pontoon:

Bernie also offers an immature grosbeak:

Now we’re getting pretty small, so let’s take a look at Lyle Anderson’s pictures of a wren family on Park Point:

The photos were taken on Aug. 17. By evening, the wrens had left. “The backyard seems a little emptier without them,” Lyle writes.

OK, back to hummingbirds. Happily, several people have reported that they’ve seen plenty of hummers this summer. Among them is Rick Jarvi of Brule, Wis., who had six stay for the summer and is getting a lot more passing through now.
Check this out:

Rick has been feeding hummers for 20 years and has seen more this year than in the past, he writes.

Likewise, David and Helen Abramson, who live in Meadowlands and are part of the group that sponsors the annual Sax-Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival, have seen plenty of hummers.
“For years I’ve kept track of how many cups of syrup I put out in a week,” Helen writes. “Some years it’s been up to 50 cups in a week. The past two years haven’t been that busy — 30 and 32 a week. However, this year has been the highest so far — early this month it was 72 cups one week, 71 the next week. There is activity at the feeders all day, but toward evening it’s like a swarm of bees. I’ve only been able to count 15 at one time.”
At one point an immature female landed on her wrist, Helen adds.
Here’s her picture of a couple of the Meadowlands hummers:

The hummers are also feeding off an oriole feeder, Helen writes. They put Scotch tape over the top of the ports to keep the bugs out.

Thanks, everyone. Let’s keep the conversation going.

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