Sunday, May 6, 2007

Spring migration bird walks at Wood Lake Nature Center

Spring is a great time here in Minnesota. After several months of cold and snow and gray cloudy days, it is great to see things come back to life. It is also a fun time for birding, with a lot of migrants coming through. For the past couple weeks I have spent my Thursday evenings at Wood Lake Nature Center, attending their spring migration bird walks. This has been a lot of fun. Having started birding and photography some time ago I am usually pretty good at finding subjects on my own, but sometimes it is fun to share the experience with a group of people. While I was waiting for the walk to start I noticed this cardinal at the feeders by the visitor center. As I walked over he decided to move to a safer perch but he was obviously used to humans. Cardinals are pretty common in this area.
There were also quite a few barn swallows buzzing around the visitors center also. They have been building nests on the buildings. I think this pair was trying to get the 10 day weather forecast.On the May 3rd walk the naturalist mentioned that the Baltimore Orioles had been spotted migrating through and with in minutes we spotted a couple. They were in pretty dense foliage in the trees so the picture was not as clear as I would have liked it. Another new migrant that we saw on the may 3rd walk were some green heron. Unfortunately they were flying through a forested part of the park and I was not able to get a picture. On both walks that I have participated in we have seen a lot of the common marsh birds, such as mallard, canadian geese, wood ducks, common grackle, and red-winged blackbirds.
This female wood duck had a great reflection.
This blackbird was puffed up as he sang. Their song is a warning to other males to stay away from their territory. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if people settled their disputes this way? Instead of sending soldiers to Iraq we could send the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or maybe Pearl Jam, just not Janet Jackson, we wouldn't want to start an international incident.
On the April 26th walk we were pretty excited to see a yellow-headed blackbird. These are not very common in our area since we are on the very edge of their range. I have photographed yellow-heads before but this was the first one that I have seen in Minnesota.
We were also excited that week to catch a glimpse of a red fox. He caught a glimpse of us first though, and I don't think he was too excited about seeing 15 birders wondering around. The naturalist showed us a possible fox den, from a distance, and told us that it was about time for the pups to be born. I will be checking back and try to get a shot of the pups.
All in all these walks were a lot of fun. There is still at least 1 walk left on May 10th. The walks cost $5 and begins at 6:00pm. For more information check out their web site

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