If you have an old moose antler in your garden, you might capture a photo like the one above! I got this photo a few years ago. The Fox Sparrow is an early migrant as they make their way back to their Canadian breeding grounds. This sparrow has a beautiful song.
Another early arriving bird is the Northern Saw-whet Owl. They are very vocal in the spring as they set up territories and call for mates. I took the above photo in southern AZ, but they are pretty easy to find and see up here right now. Here is a link to their tooting call: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Saw-whet_Owl/sounds
Last weekend at the Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival, there was a Pine Grosbeak that was said to be “xanthocromic”. That term means there are yellow feathers. This Grosbeak has that orangey-yellow feature. The next photo is a normally pigmented male Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak, male
female Pine Grosbeak?
I question this being a female as there are “Bronze” Pine Grosbeak and this may be a young male transitioning into his adult plumage. This time of year before the Pine Grosbeak return north to Canada, they are molting into their adult plumage. It is interesting watching the different shades as they change.
I was wondering why all the birds took off from the feeders in a flurry, then I looked around outside the window and saw a Northern Shrike. This bird is also known as the Butcher Bird because of their habit of impaling their prey on thorns.
This bird is classified as a songbird, but his beak says different. Look at the hook on its’ bill, that’s used to tear flesh. The Northern Shrike mainly hunts small rodents, but they will take other birds. Even birds as large as Pine Grosbeaks.
Here is a link to an interesting article about how birds stay warm in the winter.
The other day it was really nice out, a good day to get out and walk. As I was walking along the road I heard the soft tapping of a woodpecker. A few years ago at the Detroit Lakes Birding Festival when we were looking for Black-backed Woodpeckers, the leader said to listen for soft tapping. I have remembered that and have found several of the three-toed Woodpeckers using this tip.
After a little bit of searching, I found the bird on a downed log. She then flew up to another tree and I could see it was a female. The females lacks the yellow cap.
In Minnesota there are two species of Woodpecker that have 3 toes, as compared to other Woodpeckers who have 4 toes. Besides the Black-backed, there is the American Three-toed Woodpecker. The American 3-toed is not as common as the Black-backed.
In the old bird books the Black-backed is called the Arctic Three-toed Woodpecker. I almost like that name better.