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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Got Seed?

Watch first in real time, then stay tuned for slow motion action.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVT5vEBUAMY[/youtube]

p.s. saw one Pine Grosbeak today on the 12th.

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Waiting for the Pineys to leave…

female Pine Grosbeak

female Pine Grosbeak

It’s that time of the year when the Pine Grosbeaks start heading back up north to their breeding grounds in Canada.

Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator

Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator

The past few years that I have been watching the Pine Grosbeaks, it seems like the handsome red males leave first, leaving behind the females. If the Pineys are like a lot of birds, the males will arrive on their breeding grounds long before the females. This will give the males that arrive first the best territory, which they defend against other males.

It seems like the Pine Grosbeaks leave Crane Lake around the 15th of March. I’m keeping track; this morning, on the 11th, there were 2 females at the feeders.

The scientific name, Pinicola enucleator: Pinicola, one who inhabits pines and, enucleator : one who ‘shells out’ from the bird’s way of husking the pine seeds.

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Webcam from the forest

Keep up to date with the changing seasons by viewing this webcam set in Superior National Forest

http://www.fsvisimages.com/24.aspx?site=bowa1

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Varied Thrush

This past weekend I took a trip over to my friend’s house in Ely. She has been hosting a Varied Thrush at her feeders since mid-December.

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush

The bird is a very handsome male. The male bird of this species is a much brighter color. The female’s plumage is more subdued.

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush

The Varied Thrush is a “rare” regular here in Minnesota. Every winter at least one of these beautiful birds show up in Minnesota. The birds home range is the Pacific Northwest and on the west coast there is a seasonal movement from north to south.

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush

But sometimes in the fall they wander a little too far to the east and end up in Minnesota. My friends in Ely have been spreading out cracked corn under their sunflower feeders and that’s where he spends his time, on the ground eating his fill. Then he will take off and head back to the woods for cover.

Varied Thrush

Varied Thrush

Ixoreus naevius

Ixoreus naevius

As I watched him on this cold, below zero morning, I noticed he would tuck one of his legs up into his feathers. In this photo you can just see his one toenail hanging down from his puffed up feathers.

Varied Thrush, Ixoreus naevius

Varied Thrush, Ixoreus naevius

Two years ago, my friend had a male Varied Thrush at her feeders in December, we are thinking that perhaps this is the same bird. Here is where I blogged about it before: http://visitcranelake.com/blog/?p=346

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Neighborhood Assassin

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

As I stepped out this morning to replenish the birdfeeders, I heard a Pine Siskin make an alarm call. I looked up and saw the Sharp-shinned Hawk flying after a small bird. He made a quick manuever, and then there were just a few feathers floating in the air where there used to be a small bird.

I felt so bad. I had spooked that small bird and made him take flight and that was how he met his demise. The small Hawk that’s been hanging around since January is not going hungry.

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Red Squirrel alert

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

 Wow, it might get up to 50 degrees here today! I can just see it now, people will be running around in shorts and shirt sleeves.

The animals are getting spring fever too. I had a Red Squirrel at the feeders this morning; I haven’t seen him at all this winter. We are so lucky up here in the northern part of the state that we do not have Gray Squirrels – just the Red variety, if you can call that lucky. Anyhow, the Red Squirrels do come out in the winter, but when it’s really bitterly cold, like it was earlier, they will hole up in their little dens and eat out of their food cache. They don’t go into a complete hibernation like Bears.

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