Franklin’s Spruce Grouse

After I posted my Spruce Grouse video, I found this really awesome video of a “Franklin’s” Spruce Grouse. This sub-species of the Spruce Grouse is only found in the northern Rockies and Cascade mountain ranges. Part of their display flight is a “wing-clap” which is shown in this video. I’ve heard the wing clap described as sounding like a shotgun. Watch the video and decide for yourself, either way it’s pretty cool! Kudos to the person who had the opportunity to video tape this bird in action.  

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

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Trailing Arbutus

Trailing Arbutus

Trailing Arbutus

The first wildflower of the season to bloom in the coniferous forests of northern Minnesota.

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Spruce Grouse display

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

Last Thursday, I spent over an hour with a very cooperative “displaying” Spruce Grouse.

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

He spent all his time flying back and forth from one pre-determined branch to the ground.

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

 I think he may have fallen in love with the click of the shutter of my camera as he would puff up and click his tail in response. Or he could have thought it was another male Grouse challenging him.

Spruce Grouse display

Spruce Grouse display

Immeadiately before he would fly up, he would flick his wings once. Here is he preparing to flick his wings.

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

Only one time would he flutter his wings, then he would hesitate for a second before flying up to his perch. It was a great thundering sound when he flew up.

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

He would spread his tail and then quickly snap it shut, making a clicking sound. He took a little rest at one point and I watched as he ate Jack Pine needles.

Spruce Grouse

Spruce Grouse

Eventually, I stood right on his lek and he flew directly at me. I thought he was going to land on my head, but he lit just to my right on the ground – I could have reached out and touched him. He then cocked his head to the side and stared up at me. We looked at each other for a few seconds then he walked away to once again fly up to his favored branch. Back and forth he would go, over and over again, landing right next to me and then walking away to fly up to his branch.
 
At one point, a group of 6 Boreal Chickadees worked their way through the Jack Pine. It was fun to hear their spring song mixed in with their “chick-a-day, days”. Other birds heard were Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Hermit Thrush.

 I had been waiting to see the “flight display” for some time. I heard the thunder of wings in the silent woods and that is what attracted my attention. I saw the bird through the trees and thought I might spook him as I thrashed through the brush. He didn’t spook at all and I think he thought the shutter noise of my camera was another male clicking his tail. It was tons of fun!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyh_w-MH2QI&feature=related

 

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Goldeneyes in the Snow

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

It’s not a James Bond movie!

Common Goldeneye, female

Common Goldeneye, female

Both Goldeneyes were busy grooming their feathers.

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

Goldeneye

Goldeneye

 

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

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Another fall out?

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

New arrival this morning at Crane Lake is the  White-throated Sparrow. With the couple inches of spring snow that we received today, the birdfeeders are busy.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

The White-throated Sparrow is the familiar bird that sings constantly from the deep woods, he sings: poor sam peabody, peabody, peabody.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow has been back for a little while, I’m sure he didn’t bargain for this weather. The good news is the snow will be gone tomorrow, the forecast calls for temperatures in the upper 50s.

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Loon Convention

Common Loons

Common Loons

This is a great time of the year to “Loon Watch”. The migrant Loons will get “stacked-up” on area lakes waiting for the ice to go out on lakes up north.

Loon & Crayfish

Loon & Crayfish

They can rest and feed as they make their way north. Common Loons are so beautiful all decked out in their fresh breeding plumage.

Loons and Grebes

Loons and Grebes

A little later, some Red-necked Grebes swam into view.

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

Here’s a bird that matches its’ name: Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebes

Red-necked Grebes

 

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

 

Loons and Grebes

Loons and Grebes

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Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

No facial stripe and a light colored eye.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Off on another sortie…

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Open Water

Crane Lake

Crane Lake

Lots of open water is showing up on Crane Lake, the lake should be open all the way by the end of the weekend.

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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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