This weekend I took a trip over to the T S Roberts Bird Sanctuary in south Minneapolis. The sanctuary is part of Lyndale Park and was officially designated as a bird sanctuary in 1936 by Christian Bossen, who was the superintendent of Minneapolis Parks at the time. In 1936 the park was originally called the Lyndale Park Bird Sanctuary but in 1947 the park was renamed after Thomas Sadler Roberts. Roberts was a retired physician who became a professor of Ornithology at the University of Minnesota. In 1932 Roberts published the book, "Birds of Minnesota" which was ground breaking at the time, and is still considered an important book for anyone birding in Minnesota.
The sanctuary was created primarily as habitat for migratory song birds, particularly warblers. There are trails and a boardwalk that run through a variety of different habitats, wetlands, fields, and forest, that can be used as a stop over for warblers as they migrate. Unfortunately the only warblers that I was lucky enough to see on this trip where yellow-rumped warblers and a single ovenbird. I have visited the sanctuary a couple of times in the past. While it once may have been a hot spot for migrating birds the creation of other larger parks nearby, Fort Snelling State Park, Hyland Park, Minnesota Valley NWR, and others may have decreased the number of birds that now use the sanctuary. However it is still great habitat for many of the birds that choose to nest in the area, such as sparrows, robins, and chickadee.
This years abundance of snow and rain has increased the size of the wetlands in the park. Several trails are still flooded over making detours necessary in some cases.
While the excess water may make it a bit more difficult for some visitors other visitors have taken full advantage of the new wetlands areas. Mallards and wood ducks can be found swimming in low land parts of the park that are usually dry.
The reason for my visit to the sanctuary though was the fact that there was a great horned owl pair that still had young that had not fledged. The other couple of nests that I had been watching had already fledged and were now difficult if not impossible to find. This pair of owls appeared to have nested a bit later then normal and so they still had young in the nest.
The nest was located in the back of the park very near to a trail. The location was very good for people who wanted to get a good look at the owls, or perhaps a photo or two, but it was probably not the best location for the owls. Many people know about the nest, particularly because of its location, and stop by to gawk. The owls do not seem to mind this invasion of privacy too much except for perhaps an occasional yawn of boredom for all of the strange humans below.
I don't think that the young ones will be in the nest for much longer though. They are already quite big. The squirrels nest that the parents confiscated, great horned owls do not make their own nests, is pretty small for the two big babies and mom. So soon it will be time for the young ones to leave the nest, and perhaps head off to college, or at least some nice mouse laden field around a college.