Spring Returns to the Skies

A huge snowstorm blew into MN this week – it certainly still feels like winter, with so much snow on the ground.  But since I spent all that time outside shoveling, I counted 3 flocks of   canada geese flying overhead in just half an hour. I’d nearly forgotten about the geese, but when I heard their familiar honking I realized how few birds there have been around here; especially waterfowl.  Well, they’re back, along with budding maples and daylight lasting until past 6 o’ clock.geese

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Baldies

This summer has been amazing for eagle watching. With the Mississippi becoming cleaner, eagle numbers have skyrocketed in my neighborhood, and the nest a couple blocks away had us spoting these birds almost every day. But during the fall and winter almost all of the wildlife I see during the summer become harder to spot, so I was pretty excited to see a full grown bald eagle swoop down into the road right in front of my house yesterday. It was probably picking up a squirrel – during the fall the squirrels get so crazy about their nuts they get hit by cars right and left, making meals pretty easy for the other animals. Anyway, I followed it into a tree, and got some pictures, although it was really hard to find. I hadn’t noticed before how perfectly their feathers blend in to the brown of the tree trunks and the gray of the winter sky.

We also had our first decent snow fall. Not just a flurry – the snow’s still hanging around, but I don’t know how long that will last.

Feathers

I found this red-tailed hawk’s feather yesterday when I was sweeping the sidewalk. Pretty cool, eh? I guess there’s a new visitor in our neighborhood. I haven’t seen any red-tails around, though. Earlier this spring there was a Coopers hawk hanging out, and though I haven’t seen him in a while, I s’pose it could have been his. It’s hard to tell with just a single feather. I also found a blue jay feather right near it. I don’t know that they were related, but if they were, it was probably a red-tail — I don’t think a coopers is big enough to go after a jay. 

Hey!

This rather ugly critter was so weird-looking I wondered if it wasn’t some sort of duck-goose hybrid – an ugly guckling?

Looking up from a Metro station in Washington, D.C. 

The jellyfish at the National Zoo are amazing. You can actually see electricity coursing through them.

This orangutan made me sad. She looked right at me, and her eyes were so human – she doesn’t belong in a cage.

Coming out of Mammoth Caves. Located in Kentucky, it’s already the largest cave in the world, and only a tiny fraction of it has been discovered.

Magnolias

I’m Back, and better than ever!

This last month I was on vacation all over America. Here are a few pictures:

Summer Birds

During winter, wildlife generally stays about the same, but now that summer’s here, I’ve seen all kinds of new animals. Mostly birds. In the last couple of weeks there’s been this red-headed woodpecker hanging around. He was attracted by some suet we put up, and started to visit our yard regularly, but at the same time the grackles found the suet and pretty much devoured it. Once it was gone, he stopped coming. We got some more, but I bet the same thing will happen.

I saw one of the eagles from the nest a couple of days ago. It was flying to its nest with a giant fish locked in its talons. Pretty cool.

I also spied an oriole hanging about by the river. They’re hard to miss, what with their bright feathers, but I haven’t seen them here before. I’ll have to get my oriole feeder up.

In other news, I’m going to be gone for a few weeks, so no more posts for a while. But I’ll have things to tell when I get back! 

Surprise!

Just when all the nests and baby birds and new young things were starting to lose my interest, I learned something amazing: a pair of bald eagles are raising chicks right down the street! There’s a tall pine tree in someone’s backyard, and the eagles have built a huge nest (5 or 6 feet across) up in the highest crook. I got some pictures, but it’s so many feet in the air they’re pretty fuzzy. A little point-and-shoot zoom lens can only be asked to do so much. 😉

Anyway, I’ve spent a couple of days watching the birds, and they are just amazing. (I am wildly jealous of whoever’s got them in their yard!) There are two huge eagles and (presumably) a nest full of chicks. Generally, one eagle sits on a branch and stands guard, while its mate is out hunting. Sooner or later, the other eagle will fly into the nest, and then the guard takes off seconds later to go hunt/fish/stretch its wings/etc. It’s incredible to watch. Last night I got to see the parent tearing up whatever it caught (probably fish) and feeding it to the chicks.

The yard has become a sort of neighborhood camp ground. People are always there trying to catch some action. It’s amazing how after so many years of worrying about these great birds and trying to save them from extinction, they’re raising their offspring in our backyards.

More to come….

 

Fall Waxwings

It’s getting cooler every day, but considering it’s already November, it feels like summer. No snow, no bulky-winter-coat-worthy weather. It’s nice though, because it gives me a few more weeks of animal-watching, before most them hole up or fly away. Recently I saw a tree full of cedar waxwings, eating at the last remaining berries. I’d never seen them here before – although they aren’t particularly bright, they’re interesting little birds looking a lot like an undersized female cardinal.