Crane Lake “Grouse Trail”

Crane Lake “Grouse Trail”

The trail is in great condition. It’s been packed and is perfect for snowshoeing – that is, until the snow melts!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a bird that did not occur in greater Minnesota until recently. They have been expanding their range northward ever since the early 1960s.

  • Until 1960 the Red-bellied Woodpecker was regular in only one county in Minnesota. The far most southeastern county, Houston, was the only place they could be found.
  • By 1975 they had expanded their range to just north of the Twin Cities.
  • In 1995 they were found south of Duluth from Carlton County over to Crow Wing County.
  • By the year 2000 they could be found at 46 – 47 degrees north latitude. That latitude would put you at the Canadian border.

Here in Crane Lake, the Red-bellied Woodpecker has been seen for the first time, this past year 2016.

Like the Northern Cardinal, the Red-bellied Woodpecker is an “urban generalist” and maybe that could explain the two species’ northward range expansion. They need to be around settlements with the open spaces and mixed woods that result from urbanization. We don’t know how much recreational bird feeding has aided the expansion.

Generally, the two species noted above prefer hardwood forests rather than the boreal forest type that surrounds the Crane Lake area. Boreal forests mainly contain conifer trees like pine, spruce and tamarack, although aspen and birch also occur. We had a Cardinal winter over at Crane Lake a few seasons ago, but he left in the spring. He probably didn’t find a mate and decided to move on. It will be interesting to see if our Red-bellied Woodpecker stays around next summer. This bird, too, is a male.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shrikes aka Butcher Bird

There are 31 species of Shrike in the world. The Shrike is a very unique songbird.

In Minnesota, there are two species of Shrike. The Loggerhead and Northern Shrikes. Both birds are migratory and that aids in their identification.

The Loggerhead Shrike is an endangered bird in Minnesota. They are becoming increasingly rare here and only occur in the southern half of Minnesota. They migrate out of Minnesota in late summer and can be found with relative ease down south in places like Texas.

The Northern Shrike only visits Minnesota in the winter. They migrate south from their breeding grounds in northern Canada. I guess they find our wintertime weather more appealing than that of northern Canada!

Here at Crane Lake, we only see Shrikes in the winter – and they are always the Northern species.

There are subtle differences in the two bird species. The Loggerhead is slightly smaller, but that’s extremely hard to judge unless you see the two birds together. There are also differences in the black mask that surrounds the eyes. The best field mark is the barring that is visible on the Northern Shrike’s breast. Juvenile birds have a lot of barring, the adults, not so much.

The bird below had just collided with a window and so he was easy to approach. I snapped a few photos and left him alone as he was just dazed. Later he flew away.

juvenile Northern Shrike

Northern Shrike

Notice the hook at the end of his bill.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wintertime Mammals

Pine Marten

Pine Marten

Pine Marten

Porcupine

Porcupine

Lynx, photo by Brenda Pohlman, Nelson’s Resort

Cross Fox

Cross Fox, gray morph of the Red Fox

White-tailed Deer

fawn

Bucks having fun

eagle on ice

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

8 birds to look for in winter

http://www.startribune.com/winter-s-stalwarts-are-eager-for-a-meal/409512555/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Handy new cam on Highway 53

If you want to see what the current road conditions look like, check out this link to Minnesota’s Department of Transportation’s website.

http://hb.511mn.org/#cameras/albumView/750?timeFrame=TODAY&layers=cameras

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yard Bird

owl, hawk

Northern Hawk Owl

owl, northern hawk

Hawk Owl

hawk owl

Northern Hawk Owl

I was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes when this bird flew into the spruce tree right outside my window. We looked into each others’ eyes for maybe a split second and then he flew. I managed to find the Owl again and spent some time snapping a few pictures.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Ice

deer kill

typical scene on freshly formed ice

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter Trail Conditions

 

Here is the latest report from Voyageurs National Park about Trail Conditions

https://www.nps.gov/voya/planyourvisit/winter-ice-and-trail-conditions.htm

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Watch Crane Lake freeze up

Take a look at the area webcams

 

http://www.handbergs.com/webcam/

 

Webcam

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment