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