Bohemians take a nap

Saturday was a truly incredible day at Crane Lake. A late season snowstorm sent birds to the feeders by the hundreds. There were so many birds flitting around it was total chaos. Luckily I had enough seed to put out for the hungry hoards, but now I am running very low.

It was weird to see Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and Tree Sparrows feeding alongside Redpolls and Pine Siskins. Juncos, Purple Finches, Red-wing Blackbirds and Grackles were all eating seeds. Even a pair of Mallard Ducks were in the yard eating sunflower seeds and cracked corn.

All the activity attracted other birds too like the Bohemian Waxwings that came in.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

 

Bohemian Waxwings usually don’t eat sunflower seeds, they are fruit-eating birds. In the winter they can be seen around Minnesota in trees that still have fruit clinging, like Mountain Ash trees or Apple trees, including Crabapples.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

They didn’t really find any food in my yard, but they stuck around and napped for quite a while. Bohemians are bigger than their cousins the Cedar Waxwings, other field marks include their gray coloring and most importantly the chestnut colored undertail coverts, which can easily be seen on these photos.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

This bird woke up for a bit and seemed to be complaining about the inclement weather.

headless Bohemian

headless Bohemian

This bird had his head tucked in so far he looked headless!

The hundreds of small songbirds also attracted more ominous company as well. A Merlin Falcon streaked through the yard at least 3 times that I saw. She was successful on each of her hunts. This small Falcon is truly a magnificent hunter – she grabbed small birds out of thin air as they tried to escape. The small size of the Falcon, short tail, and facial stripes, along with an all-dark eye differentiate this small bird hunter from the equally aggressive and small Sharp-shinned Hawk.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCEEjMIPprU[/youtube]

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Mallard mockery

Mallards in snow

Mallards in snow

Mallard pair

Mallard pair

Honey, this isn’t what I had in mind!
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Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe photo by Alice Hill

Eastern Phoebe photo by Alice Hill

The Eastern Phoebe was here a few days ago, but I think he may have flown back south.

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Another new arrival

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

A Chipping Sparrow made an appearance in the yard yesterday. He looks a lot like the American Tree Sparrow, but there’s no central breast spot, and he’s smaller. Also notice the totally black beak. Another sign of spring. It’s coming fast now.

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American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow’s are moving through the area now. They are on their way to their northern breeding grounds in the high arctic. Look for a central breast spot on an unstreaked breast and a bi-colored beak.

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Ice out!

The lake ice is going out.

Ice out

Ice out

There is lots of water flowing into Crane Lake, that’ll help get that ice melted. The 2 major rivers, the Vermilion and the Echo, are high and the water’s flowing fast. Two other little creeks, Snake and Camp 40, are doing there share too. Stay tuned to the Crane Lake webcams for the latest conditions: http://visitcranelake.com/webcam/index.html

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April Fools

Crane Lake

Crane Lake

Unfortunately, it’s no April Fool’s joke, it is still very much winter here at Crane Lake. But that will change quickly as April progresses (I hope).

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First of the year Robin

Robins have arrived at Crane Lake! I hope they don’t mind all the snow and ice that remains and refuses to leave.

American Robin

American Robin

Spring is coming, hang in there….

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Swans are anxious

The Swans are anxious to get back up north, but they’re running into the ice and snow that just won’t go away up here.

Swans

Swans

They are finding what little open water there is to rest and feed. My neighbor Harvey sent me these photos, Thanks Harvey!

Swans & Geese

Swans & Geese

They look huge next to the Canadian Geese.

Swan on Snow

Swan on Snow

The other afternoon I was heading home from town, and as I was going by Myrtle Lake, I saw two humps of what looked like snow out on the ice covered lake. Then one of the humps raised its’ head and I realized it was two Swans! There was no open water in sight! There are always Swans on Myrtle Lake. I think they might nest in the marshes in the area close to that lake. It’s always such a beautiful sight. Swans are so elegant.

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Pineys are gone

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

Last Sunday, March 13th, was the last time I saw a Pine Grosbeak at Crane Lake. And the funny thing is, is that the last one I saw was a brightly colored male. So I guess that blows my theory about the males leaving first.

This is pretty much right on schedule. Last year they left by the 12th and the year before that they were gone by the 15th. This is a sure sign of Spring. And to top it off, numerous Saw-whet Owls have moved into the area. They can be heard calling after dark – the continuous, monotonous “toot, toot, toot” can go on for hours. It’s such a great time of the year! Watch the birds and you will be inspired!

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