Purple Finches!

Purple Finches on feeder at Crane Lake, MN

Purple Finches on feeder at Crane Lake, MN

Crane Lake has been invaded by Purple Finches! A huge flock of at least 50 birds have been roaming around the neighborhood visiting feeders.

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Recent Visitors

Evening Grosbeaks

Evening Grosbeaks

A small flock of Evening Grosbeaks showed up the other day at the feeders. They hung out and pigged out for a little while, then left, and I haven’t seen them since. Why can’t they be a little more consistent?!!

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Bucks playing around

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp8DUhddgIs[/youtube]

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Fresh Snow and Red Birds

go together like…

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Finally, some color showing up at the feeders. It’s been a dry stretch with all the neotropical migrants gone for the cold season. There’s still enough natural food in the trees so the winter finches aren’t coming to feeders yet. Maybe until now…

Purple Finch and Goldfinches

Purple Finch and Goldfinches

Purple Finch is such a peculiar name for a RED bird. But the explanation may be in the Latin name for the bird, which is Carpodacus purpureus. The descriptive name of purpureus signifies the color “crimson”. I guess Crimson Finch would be more fitting, but then it would be harder to say.

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current conditions

Handbergs Marina

Handberg's Marina

Last Sunday night these guys were pulling their boat. The ramp was too slippery to lower the trailer into the lake, they had to improvise.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Crane Lake was still open…

To watch the progression of winter lake ice view the webcams in the Crane Lake area at: http://visitcranelake.com/webcam/index.html

 

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Back from Vacation

Awright, sorry about the lack of recent posts, but I was out of the state. And while I usually only blog about Crane Lake, I must say that the south of Texas is an awesome place. Wow, the birding opportunities are phenomenal as wildlife refuges and nature preserves abound in the area. The state of Texas has taken the interest in the hobby of birding to a whole new level. And they have the birds to go with it. I was able to get 21 new life birds – pretty awsome for me! This area of Texas is able to boast about what they’ve termed “Texas Specialties”, these are common birds for them and they either occur only in south Texas or are uncommon in other parts of the U.S. Birds like the Chachalaca, Green Kingfisher, Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Buff-bellied Hummingbird and several others. I’m still sorting through the numerous photos that I took during the trip.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

This little Warbler was visiting the hummingbird feeder at my Mom’s place in Mission.

Orange-crowned Warbler at hummingbird feeder

Orange-crowned Warbler at hummingbird feeder

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A Blue Morning

I was super suprised to find a really cool bird this morning in my yard!

Blue Goose

Blue Goose

At first glance, I was unsure of the species, and I was hoping I had some kind of rarity.
Snow Goose, juvenile blue morph

Snow Goose, juvenile blue morph

After checking the bird guide book, I figured out it was just a Snow Goose, but a very special “blue morph” of the Snow Goose. And to add to further confusion, this was a juvenile.
Blue Goose

Blue Goose

Here he is fluffing his feathers. You can see how some of the feathers have a bluish cast to them. You can even see the nictitating membrane that birds use to protect their eyes. See, his eye has a strange appearance, but that’s just the extra eyelid that birds have. It comes in handy when they are flying or when they are dunking their heads underwater. It is a transparent membrane that the bird can still see through.
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Big movement of birds yesterday

After the nasty storm and cold front that moved into Minnesota, the big winds brought many birds down from up north. I had to go to town and on the way down there I couldn’t help but notice the big flocks of Snow Buntings on the roadside.

Snow Bunting

Snow Bunting

On the way back home later in the afternoon I tried to do a rough estimate of the numbers. I counted 300 Snow Buntings just between Orr and Crane Lake, which is a distance of 30 miles.

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There’s still green in the woods

Even though all the leaves are down

Herriman Lake Trail

Herriman Lake Trail

there’s still plenty of green in the woods.

Herriman Lake Hiking Trail

Herriman Lake Hiking Trail

 

Ground Pine aka Princess Pine

Ground Pine aka Princess Pine

 

Bristly Clubmoss

Bristly Clubmoss

 The Clubmosses are really coming into their own now. They are sending up strobiles filled with spore and seem to be thriving in the late season sun.

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Kinglets and Creepers

The trees last weekend were full of both species of Kinglet.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Most times, these tiny little birds are hard to find and see. Their weak calls can be heard, but they seem invisible as they hang out in thick conifers like Jack Pine. In the fall they call constantly to each other as they forage on tiny insects.

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

There were several Brown Creepers mixed in with the crowd of Kinglets. Brown Creepers have a very similar sounding call to the Golden-crowned Kinglet. I wonder if these two species tend to migrate together? It was a good opportunity to compare the two calls. I’d heard that the two birds can be told apart by the sequential number of notes in the call, but I couldn’t remember which was what. I found out the Brown Creeper gives a single note call, while the Golden-crowned can call singly, but it’s always followed by a sequence of 2 or 3 call notes. Whew,

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Here’s a pretty plain picture of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. They are an overall gray with a complete eye-ring.  Unfortunately, the above photo has the shadow from a twig going right through his eye.

Their call is completely different than the weak call of the Golden-crowned. In fact, their song is so loud, it’s hard to believe it is coming from a bird this tiny. Here is an example of their song: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-crowned_Kinglet/id  Now, if you listened to the recording, there was a series of scolding type notes at the end. That is the sound you will hear in the fall, the singing notes are reserved for the Spring time of the year.

For most of the year, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet keeps his bright ruby red crest hidden, but in the Spring that is a different story. The photos below are from last Spring.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

You can see where he gets his name!

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

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