Tax Time

Tax time provides opportunity to help wildlife.  says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

 

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Birds Only!

Video1

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Birdfeeder Project

Homemade Peanut Butter Birdfeeder

Homemade Peanut Butter Birdfeeder

The Chickadees and Nuthatches love peanut butter and this is an easy project to build. You just need to find some sort of hardware cloth to attach to a nice piece of board. In this case, I had an old suet feeder that I cut up. I attached the metal grid it to a slab of cedar and attached a hook on top for hanging. You can attach a little perch for the birds, that would be useful for the birds to perch. But it isn’t necessary, they’ll find a way to eat the butter!

Peanut Butter Feeder

Peanut Butter Feeder

I just have to remember to mark the peanut butter container with “birds only” after using a dirty knife to spread the peanut butter.

Video2

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Historic Voyageurs

check out this interactive map about Voyageur country.

 

http://nps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=7f4eb8ee1d594724aaaf5620d114a410#

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SNOW!!

It has snowed in Crane Lake and there is about 8 inches of snow out in the woods. Check out the link below from the DNR for snow conditions from around the state.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/trails.html?facility_id=4095

 

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116 Christmas Bird Count in Cook, MN

The 116th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count is soon to begin.  In Minnesota there are 76  count areas or circles as they are referred to.  The Cook Area Circle is one of them.  This year the count day for the Cook Area will be Dec. 26th.

The Cook Area Count was started back in 2002 by Charlotte Jacobsen.  The area has been censused each year since and a total of 21,549 birds have been counted.  Out of this number there have been 52 different species noted.  That is a good number of species to have been found in the middle of the winter this far north.  There has not been any one year in which all  52 species have been observed but it is fun seeing how close we can get to that number at each count.  The more folks we have counting the better we can cover our count circle and search out all these different birds.

The area that is called our count circle is centered right in the town of Cook and it extends out 7.5 miles in all directions.  Anyone living in this circle can count birds right at their own feeders and yard areas.  For those who feel more ambitious  and would like to explore a trail or drive a planned route that can be arranged also.  If you would like to participate in this years count please contact me, Julie.  I am the current compiler and can be reached at 218-666-2450.  I am hoping that those of you who have participated in the past will do so again.  New participants are welcomed.   It can be a lot of fun.  Even if you do not know your birds well you can help.  You can be partnered with some who is more experienced.

The traditional chili lunch and tabulation session will begin at 1:30 PM on Dec.26th.  It will be held at the Cook Timber Wolves Snowmobile Club Building which is located behind Waschke Chevrolet in Cook.  Just follow the driveway behind their building.  Bill Conger will be providing his delicious chili once again.  It is not required that you attend but it is a fun gathering of people who like watching birds.  It is not the end of the count day however.  We have the full 24 hours on the 26th  to look for birds.  Maybe someone will spot a Great Gray owl this year.  They usually  get active towards the end of the day.

Remember if you want to participate just give me a call at 218-666-2450.

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Watch where the Loons migrate

http://www.umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/migratory_birds/loons/migrations.html

The above website has loads of information about the Common Loon. They have placed geo-locators on some Loons and they are tracking where the Loons migrate.

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Norway Trail in autumn

Trail Sign

Trail Sign

I took a hike on the Norway Trail the other day. It was a beautiful autumn day with the sun out and temps in the upper 50s.

hiker-trail

entrance to Norway Hiking Trail

Norway Trail

Norway Trail

on this end of the hiking trail, there is a nice bridge over some water

Princess Pine

Princess Pine

On the southern entrance to the Norway Trail is a beautiful landscape full of the different species of Clubmoss, or Lycopodium (from Greek lukos, wolf and podion, diminutive of pous, foot).

clubmoss,trailing

Running Clubmoss

this Lycopodium species is sometimes called “wolf’s claw”. I like to call it running clubmoss because of its’ growing habit.

clubmoss,shining

Shining Clubmoss

Another Clubmoss, that I was happy to see, is Shining Clubmoss. I don’t see this plant very often – it may be quite rare. The difference with this Clubmoss is that the strobiles do not grow on top of the plant – the strobiles are along the stem of the plant.

shining clubmoss

Shining Clubmoss

Arbutus,Trailing

Trailing Arbutus with buds set for next spring

Another plant that is growing abundantly in this area is Trailing Arbutus. Trailing Arbutus is one of the very first plants to flower in the spring and you can see the buds have already been set on this plant. It’s all ready to burst into flower next spring as soon as the days start to get longer.

All these plants are evergreen and  you will find lots of these green plants if you dig under the thick blanket of snow this winter.

 

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Reflections from the Deer Stand

White-tailed Deer

photo by Scott Bauer

There are many strategies that hunters use to take deer. Some hunters use a deer stand. Sitting quietly waiting for a deer to come along presents a prime opportunity to observe nature. The savvy hunter will be in place in their stand before dawn. And as the sun comes up the sunrise can be spectacular. In our busy lives, we simply do not have the time to actually watch the sun come over the horizon, but up in the stand the time is right for observing and reflecting.

A couple years ago, my husband told me about his morning hunt. The sunrise that morning was dazzling. Crane Lake had frozen over during the night, and the winds were completely calm. Sitting in the stand as quietly as possible it seemed that sound was amplified.

But wait, what was that noise? It seemed so loud in the silence of the morning. Something was shuffling around in those leaves over there, was it a deer coming? Looking in that direction there was a weasel running around. He had turned white in anticipation of the season that was coming. In the winter, the Weasels turn completely white with a little black tip on the end of their tail.

Boreal Owl

After a while, an Owl came along and sat in the tree an arms length away. They gazed into each other eyes in shocked surprise for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was perhaps only a few seconds. The little Owl, that was no bigger than a football, was maybe a Boreal Owl. After a bit, he flew away leaving my spouse in awe of seeing something so special.

Then what sounded like a herd of deer came into view, two does and three fawns. The adrenaline was building as he held his shot for a buck. Although he had a doe permit, he was waiting for a buck. The deer were suspicious, they could smell something with their acute sense of smell, but they couldn’t see where the scent was coming from. He sat quietly as they worked their way along the trail.

Although he didn’t shoot anything that day, he looked forward to the next day to enjoy the silence of the north woods, or maybe one could say the loud clamoring of nature. I’m sure there are other awesome tales to tell about the fall hunt. I’d love to hear about them.

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Build a brush pile and they will come

We had to cut a couple of trees down in the yard and the brush was piled up in the backyard for a couple of days. It was just enough cover to attract many of the ground feeding birds that are migrating through the area right now.

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

The brush pile was full of little sparrows like this Tree Sparrow.

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

And Fox Sparrows and Juncos. I threw some sunflower seeds in the pile and now it’s become a feeder. I was going to burn the brush, but now I think I’ll keep it around until Spring. Who knows what will be taking refuge in the brush this winter, it’ll be fun to watch!

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