Friday, June 29, 2012

American White Pelican

American White Pelican
 The American white pelican is a large bird that breeds on fresh water lakes across the central part of the United States and Canada. They are mostly found in the prairie pothole region of the continent. They typically winter on the east or west coast, often in salt water marshes or lagoons. Unlike the brown pelican, the only other pelican in North America, these birds catch fish by scooping up water and fish in their large throat sack while they swim. They will often work together to heard fish into large groups which they can share.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Swan, River, Lake by David Taylor

A ripple meets the river bank
The paddling swan now passing by
He leaves his mark sparkling in the sun
His future path has yet swum.

You and the sun, and I a swan
These words a string of ripples
As I swim on, and you shine
On my future path I must go by.

These words from movements past
Or freshly now as rippled meanings
Gently flow across the mind
Made silver by your light.

No river for these ripple writ
No cygnet for a swan beget
Not any meaning in this verse
Except your shining makes
As river seek to merge with lakes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

Yellow-headed Blackbird
 Tough to find things in nature that begin with the letter X. Thank heaven for the yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus. The Yellow-headed black bird is a bird that is native to the marshes and prairie wetlands of the west. During the winter they migrate down to the southwestern United States and Mexico. Even though we are not really in their range here in the eastern part of Minnesota we do occasionally get them nesting this far east. It seems that this is getting to be a more common occurrence. This is not good news for the red-winged blackbirds that live in the eastern half of North America. Since the yellow-headed blackbirds are larger they will often displace the red-winged blackbirds from prime breeding spots in locations where birds share the habitat.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

Chestnut-sided Warbler
The chest-net sided warbler is a wood warbler that is found in the eastern portions of North America. They nest primarily in eastern Canada. There are also nesting populations in the North East United States, the Appalachian Mountains, and the northern Great Lakes, which includes northern Minnesota. They usually nest in deciduous forest, forming a cup nest in low tree or shrub. The chest-nut sided warbler winters in Central America where it is usually found in flocks of mixed warblers in tropical forests.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.   

Sunday, June 24, 2012

American Emerald

American Emerald
The American emerald is a member of the emerald family of dragonflies. Most emeralds can be identified by their metallic green eyes, which is where the Corduliidae family gets its common name. The American emerald is a common emerald or Cordulia. They are usually found in the north eastern part of Minnesota where they like wooded lakes and pond. It can easily be identified here in Minnesota because it is the only emerald with a white ring around the base of the abdomen. I photographed this American emerald at the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

White-tailed Deer Fawn

White-tailed Deer Fawn
It's that time of year again when all of the super cute babies are out. Last weekend when I was heading back from St Croix State Park a white-tailed deer fawn came running down the dirt road that I was traveling on. I stopped when I saw it but it kept on going and I was a bit concerned that it might run straight into my car. When it was about 25 feet away it finally realized that I was not mom and skidded to a stop. We sat looking at each other for a few minutes and then I took a few pictures from my open car door. When I finished shooting and shut the door it turned and ran back the direction that it came from at beak neck speed. I have not had the opportunity to process those pictures yet. This shot was taken this time last year at the Necedah Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin..

Thursday, June 21, 2012

 For those of you who, like I, live in the northern hemisphere welcome to summer. Yesterday was the northern Summer Solstice. Because of the tilt of the Earth on its axis there are two summer solstices each year. The southern Summer Solstice, which is when the South Pole is closest to the Sun, and the northern Summer Solstice, when the North Pole is closest to the Sun. The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year and it traditionally marks the beginning of Summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Whooping Crane in Flight
 The whooping crane is one of the tallest bird species in North America. They are also one of the most endangered bird species in the world. Because of loss of habitat and excessive hunting there were only 23 whooping cranes left on the planet in early 1940's. Sixteen of the birds belonged to a flock that migrated between the Buffalo National Park in Canada, where they breed, and the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, where they spend the winter. The other six birds belonged to a non-migratory population in Louisiana. By the 1950s the whoopers were gone from Louisiana leaving only the Aransas -Buffalo flock.    
Whooping Crane in Flight
By the 1940's the whooping crane was protected from hunting by the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of 1929. In 1966 the Endangered Species Preservation Act was passed by Congress which was replaced by the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The whooping crane was included in both lists which helped in saving some of the remaining critical habitat that these birds required. Because of these new laws and other conservation efforts the Aransas-Buffalo flock had over 100 birds by 1986 and today they are up to 278, as of 2010-2011. A small flock of non-migratory birds has also returned to Louisiana, about 24 birds, and there is a small flock of about 20 non-migratory birds in Florida. There is also a group out of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin that is working to build a second migratory flock, just in case some disaster where to kill off the Aransas-Buffalo flock. They use an ultra-light airplane to lead the cranes between Wisconsin and Florida each year. The cranes pictured above are part of the Necedah flock. The top photo was taken in Northfield, MN where a pair stopped to rest and feed. The second photo was taken at Necedah where a pair flew in right above me as I was visiting the park one fall. The Necedah population consisted of 115 birds as of 2010-2011.All the crane population numbers come from the International Crane Foundation.   


Monday, June 18, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

Great Blue Heron Landing
The great blue heron is a common bird that is found through out most of North America. They are often seen  in ponds, marshes and other wetlands stalking their prey. They eat fish, insects, small mammals, small birds, reptiles and amphibians. They reside in both freshwater and saltwater habitats and can even be seen hunting in fields. They catch their prey with their long beak, often impaling larger prey. Although they look very large the average adult usually weighs 5 to 6 pound which is why they seem to float for a few seconds when they come in for a landing.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cobra Clubtail

Cobra Clubtail

My favorite type of dragonfly are the members of the Gomphidae family, or clubtail dragonflies. They are named because many species have a narrow abdomen which widens at the end forming a club shape. The club is usually larger in the males then in the females and some clubtail species do not have much of a club at all. It is still easy to identify species that lack a club as members of the Gomphidae family because members of Gomphidae are the only dragonflies that have noticeably separated eyes. The cobra clubtail, pictured here, has a large club. The only species in this region with a larger club is the skillet clubtail. Like many species of clubtails the cobra is found primarily around rivers. I photographed this cobra clubtail by where the Snake River empties out into the St Croix River. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Gulf Fritillary on Thistle

 Gulf Fritillary
Flowers are a great way o attract wildlife to your yard. Unfortunately living in a town home I do not have much space for gardening but there are plenty of places where I can go out to find blooming wild flowers, like this wild thistle that has attracted a gulf fritillary.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blanding's Turtle

Blanding's Turtle
 This afternoon while I was out looking for dragonflies after work I came across a Blanding's turtle. Blanding's turtles are a bit larger then the more common painted turtle and easily recognized by their bright yellow chin. They are found primarily in the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. Minnesota is on the western edge of their range.
Blanding's Turtle
Blanding's turtles are usually found near wetlands such as ponds, swamps, marshes. They will often use ephemeral wetlands during the summer. These fishless wetlands are usually full of aquatic invertebrates and insects which are a main food source for the turtles and the waters of these shallow pools are also usually warmer which aid in the egg development for females. During the winter the turtles move to deeper wetlands that will not freeze all the way to the bottom where they bury themselves in the mud. The peak time that they move to their summer wetlands in Minnesota is in June and July. June is also the month when females leave the water to go lay their eggs. I am not sure if this turtle was looking to nest or just moving to nicer digs but since they are a threatened species here in Minnesota I made sure that it did not stay out in the middle of the road where it might have been hit by someone who was not paying attention or worse yet someone who did not care.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Violet-green Swallow

Violet-green Swallow
The violet-green sparrow is the most colorful sparrow that I have ever seen. Most of their feathers are a vibrant green color, similar to that of tree sparrows.The green is accented by black and purple wing tips and a mostly purple tail. They are found in the western half of North America breeding as far north as Alaska. They spend the winter in Mexico, Central America and northern South America.  
Violet-green Swallow
 The violet-green sparrow breeds in open woodlands.They are a cavity nesters, nesting in tree cavities, rock crevices and old woodpecker holes. They will also nest in more man made items such as under the eaves of buildings, under bridges and sometimes even in nesting boxes. Although they may nest individually they sometimes nest in colonies of up to 50 birds. They also migrate and sometimes feed communally in flocks often mixed with other species of swallow.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate spoonbills are the only species of spoonbill found in North America. While most of the population is found in South America there are small breeding populations in coastal regions of Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and around the gulf coast in the United States. They can be found in freshwater or saltwater wet lands, where they move their head from side to side and use their spoon shaped bill to sift through the water and mud looking for small fish, aquatic insects and crustaceans.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.