The Juneberries, also known as Serviceberries, are at their peak right now. The Juneberry shrub can reach heights of 20 feet and are a favorite berry for birds. We can eat them too and they taste somewhat like Blueberries, although they are very seedy. I’ve never heard of anyone making anything out of Juneberries like jam or pie, they’re best eaten right off the bush. Maybe it’s because Blueberries are ripe at the same time and they are definitely superior!
Purple Finch and Serviceberries
The Purple Finches have been busy gorging themselves on the berries. They’re bringing their babies in and feeding them. Other birds like Cedar Waxwings and Evening Grosbeaks pig out on the berries too!
Even the Chipmunk was up in the tree having a feast!
Herring Gull on nest
I can’t wait to see the babies!
Thank you John Latimer and http://kaxe.org/ Phenology show! I just figured out that this plant is TUFTED LOOSESTRIFE.
The Tufted Loosestrife is not related to the invasive exotic Purple Loosestrife.
It was going to be a good walk as indicated by this Merganser who refused to get off the beach. I was able to get very close to the bird.
Common Merganser with chicks
I counted 12 chicks with this Merganser. The young birds like to ride up on their mother’s back, just like Loons. All the chicks won’t fit, but sometimes several chicks can find a free ride like these guys.
The Broad-winged Hawk must have a nest in the vicinity again this year. Two Hawks were calling to each other and probably warning their chicks that there was danger in the area. They followed me as I walked through the clearing into the woods. I tried to find a nest, but sometimes that can be difficult as the chicks will freeze in the nest so finding any kind of movement is impossible. Their flimsy nest is usually well hidden, and the adults won’t go to the nest while they can see you.
The bonus bird this day was a beautiful male SCARLET TANAGER!
I’ve been using the word, serendipity, a lot lately. It’s such a fun word and it means ‘finding something that is meaningful to you by sheer accident or luck’.
Sometimes a walk in the woods will bring a surprise, like finding a bird that you didn’t expect and that makes you very happy. The other day that happened to me. I was on the Nelson Trail,back by the beaver pond in the Jack Pines, where I saw a Warbler foraging for food. It looked funny and unfamiliar and when I got it in the bins I realized it was a Palm Warbler.
Now it seems like when I’m birding for Wood-Warblers, I listen for their song first and then seek out the bird. This bird occured just the opposite, I saw the bird first, and then I wondered what the song sounded like. I played the song on the iPod and then I could hear the bird singing that song! It was unexpected for me and a good find.
Seeing this bird in June indicates it could be a “breeding” bird and thats a good thing for us as we are located at the southern edge of their breeding range. I managed to get one poor photo of the bird.
The word “serendipity” originated in 1754 and it came about because of a fairy tale entitled “The Three Princes of Serendip”. Serendip is the Arabic name of Sri Lanka which is an island republic in the Indian Ocean. Evidently, the heroes in the tale are very lucky and accidently find a fortune.
A couple of weekends ago, I headed over to Greaney, MN on my way to Nashwauk for a family get together. Greaney is located 9 miles west of Hwy 53 on Willow River Road, just south of Orr. I love taking the backroads that criss cross western St Louis County. I was acting on a lead that I had gotten from Tammy about Magpies. And I was not disappointed!
The minute I pulled up to Vi’s Store, there was a Magpie!
They were foraging in the grass – walking along and scaring up bugs – which promptly got eaten!
Then they flew up and crossed the road where they had a couple of young birds hidden in the bushes. The vocalizations the birds were making was very entertaining!
I counted 9 Magpies at this location.
The habitat in western St Louis County is quite different than the Boreal forest that is closer to Crane Lake. Out in Greaney it’s almost prairie like. There are wet meadows mixed in with lowland Black Spruce bogs and also there is agricultural land that’s been cleared and mowed. There were lots of Clay-colored Sparrows, Sedge Wrens and Savannah Sparrows. I need to spend a lot more time out in that area, it could hold some real rarities like Le Conte’s Sparrow and Upland Sandpipers. Until next time…
We took a ride up the lake last weekend and one place that I wanted to visit was Swanson’s Bay. It is in my priority block for the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas www.mnbba.org project. I had never been way back in the bay and I was surprised at how big and out of the way it was. Take a look at the map and see there’s a big swamp on the south side. Lately I’ve been attracted to swampy areas as they seem to be bird “magnets”.
Swanson's Bay in Voyageurs National Park
On the way there we found Herring Gulls sitting on nests. I’m going to keep my eye on those nests and I hope to get some baby Gull pictures in the near future.
Look close at this photo, this Deer is a mother! She must have had her fawn hidden back in the woods while she went to eat and drink water.
It looks like it is going to be a really good year for Blueberries! The rain we have received in June has made the Blueberries big, plump, and juicy! Why does it seem like the first berry that turns ripe in the bunch is always the biggest?
Right now is a really good time to find Woodpecker nests, especially Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Northern Flickers. When you’re walking in the woods, keep an ear out for baby Woodpecker chatter. Baby Woodpeckers, for some unknown reason, keep up a constant chatter when they are still in the nest. Once you hear it, just keep searching for a likely tree that has a few holes drilled in it. Then patiently wait for the parents to show – which shouldn’t be too long – as the parents know they have hungry chicks to feed.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker nest hole
Sapsucker entering nest
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, male
Before they would leave the nest, the adult bird would check to see if the coast was clear. They would look left, right, and overhead before flying out of the hole.
Sapsucker with fecal sac
The male Sapsucker was cleaning house. Here he’s leaving with a fecal sac.
female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
I hiked into this remote beaver pond last week. It was in about 1 mile down an old logging road. This pond was teaming with bird life.
The dead tree snags provide critical housing for cavity nesting birds like Tree Swallows, Eastern Kingbird, Wood Ducks, Hooded and Common Mergansers and others.