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More snow birds

Nope. Still no pictures from an RV park in Florida or Arizona. These are more images from recent trips to northern Minnesota in search of avian winter residents – the Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, and Rough-legged Hawk. Click on any image for a larger version.

Northern Hawk Owl 2273 WEB

Rough-legged Hawk 1 0895 WEB

Great Gray Owl 4 1449 WEB

Northern Hawk Owl 0182 WEB


New images to the website

Here are a few recent images added to the new website. As always, your comments and feedback are welcomed! Click on any image for a larger version.


Tamarack Gold 7349 copy


North Shore Rose WEB

LUNCHTIME – Wilson’s Snipe

Wilson's Snipe 9011 WEB


Lakeside trail from Windigo IR 2 WEB


Moose 18 WEB



Snow birds

Sorry to disappoint you if you were thinking this was a collection of flashy photos of Minnesotans seeking relief from winter weather in Arizona or Florida. Quite to the contrary, these snow birds – Great Grey Owl, Hawk Owl, and Rough-legged Hawk – are from farther north in Minnesota around the Eveleth area. Here are a few images from a recent trip with more to follow…click on any image for a larger version.

Great Gray Owl 3 0622 WEB

Northern Hawk Owl 2271 WEB

Rough-legged Hawk 2537 WEB

Great Gray Owl 6 2109 WEB

Northern Hawk Owl 2313 WEB

Rough-legged Hawk 2562 WEB



NEW website – FINALLY!!!

After too many months of promises, I FINALLY have a new website that will be accessible for all electronic mobile devices. My previous website used Adobe’s Flash player for the photo galleries and they would not display on iPhones and iPads but the new site will remedy that situation. As well, I have added new galleries for birds and wildlife along with new imagery in the landscape gallery. Here are a few of the forthcoming images – feel free to click on any image for a larger version.



red-headed woodpecker – the flag bird

I grew up seeing red-headed woodpeckers as a matter of course. Its loud “queeerp” call always beckoned a search for it. I even remember its nickname as the flag bird – red, white and deep navy blue. Over the last fifty years they have declined on an average of 2% per year – a cumulative decline of 70%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Their decline is due mostly in the past half-century to habitat loss and changes to its food supply. The following is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology –

“Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1.2 million, with 99% spending part of the year in the U.S., and 1% in Canada. The species rates a 13 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Red-headed Woodpecker is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The species is also listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.”

As well, here are some “cool facts” from the Cornell Lab –

  • The striking Red-headed Woodpecker has earned a place in human culture. Cherokee Indians used the species as a war symbol, and it makes an appearance in Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, telling how a grateful Hiawatha gave the bird its red head in thanks for its service.
  • Pleistocene-age fossils of Red-headed Woodpeckers—up to 2 million years old—have been unearthed in Florida, Virginia, and Illinois.
  • The Red-headed Woodpecker was the “spark bird” (the bird that starts a person’s interest in birds) of legendary ornithologist Alexander Wilson in the 1700s.

Red-headed woodpecker 1 WEB

Red-headed woodpecker 2 WEB

Red-headed woodpecker in flight 1 WEB

Red-headed woodpecker in flight 2 WEB


Timeless rite of spring – sandhill cranes

Last week I was south of the Twin Cities driving the backroads around Vermillion, MN. While the sightings were sparse I did get to hear and see a dozen or so Sandhill Cranes fly over and saw several in a field too far off for a decent photograph. But it reminded me of a trip years ago to the Platte River in Nebraska where the timeless spectacle of the Sandhill Crane migration takes place. What follows are photographs of mine but the text is an excerpt from http://www.nebraskaflyway.com

Each spring, something magical happens in the heart of the Great Plains. More than 80 percent of the world’s population of Sandhill Cranes converge on Nebraska’s Platte River valley—a critical sliver of threatened habitat in North America’s Central Flyway. Along with them come millions of migrating ducks and geese in the neighboring rainwater basins. The cranes come to rest and refuel for a month as they prepare for the arduous journey to vast breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. They arrive from far-flung wintering grounds in northern Mexico, Texas and New Mexico on an epic journey of thousands of miles.

For centuries they have come to rest and restore themselves. The shallow braided channels of Nebraska’s Platte River provide safe nighttime roost sites. Waste grain in crop fields provides food to build up depleted fat reserves needed for migration. Adjacent wet meadows provide critical nutrients and secluded loafing areas for rest, bathing and courting. During their stop in Nebraska, cranes gain nearly 10 percent of their body weight.

There is no question: The arrival of the cranes on the Platte River—and the millions of other migratory birds that visit each spring—is one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the continent. NOTE: You can enlarge any image on the blog simply by clicking on the image.

Sandhill crane dawn 3 Platte WEB

Sandhill cranes WEB

Sandhill crane flying Platte WEB

Sandhill flying Platte WEB

Sandhills in flight 3 Platte WEB

Geese in flight 2 Platte WEB

Sandhill crane silhouette WEB

Cranes over Platte River WEB