Snow!

it snowed last night – a good 4 inches of the fluffy white stuff! We’re getting there, earlier this week we had 2-3″ and it hasn’t melted.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

the birds are fluffed up today!

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse

it’s cold out!
 
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Losing their antlers

already

Deer

Deer

This guy has just lost his antlers. You can see the spot on his forehead where they used to be attached.

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

Another buck came in and he had lost just one of this antlers so far. The other buck was being sympathetic and licked the wound where the antler had just come from. He seemed to enjoy that.

Buck with one antler

Buck with one antler

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Backyard Visitors

I just got back from a trip to Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. The birds down there are awesome! The state of Texas does an excellent job in promoting the unique wildlife that they have by establishing state parks, wildlife refuges, bird sanctuaries where concentrations of animals occur. There’s not as much public land as compared to MN, and some private ranches are opening up their ranches to wildlife observance and photography. One thing that all these locations have in common is water. In a state that’s as dry as Texas, and especially so this year since they are in a severe drought, water attracts all kinds of critters. Whether naturally occurring in the landscape or a water hole that’s been created, a water feature is sure to bring in hordes of birds and wildlife.

So when I got back to MN I thought how similar our winter landscape is to a desert. While we have an abundance of water, most all of the accessible water is frozen at this time of year. Then how do our animals survive in this hostile environment? All our winter birds have adapted by being able to eat snow. While it cools down their bodies as the snow melts, their metabolism adjusts for the conditions. The birds that migrate don’t have the ability to process snow for a water source – their bodies can’t handle the chill.

So, as in other years I have placed a heated bird bath out by my bird feeding stations. Back in 2008, a Yellow-rumped Warbler ( https://blog.visitcranelake.com/minus-33-and-counting-feb-4-2007/  )  spent the winter due in most part to the open water that was available in my backyard. Some birds choose to not migrate if food and water is available – like the Robins that have been wintering with increasing frequency in the past several years in MN. I have since found out that Yellow-rumped Warblers as compared to the other Wood-warblers, are more adept at spending the winter in cold climates because of their ability to change their diet to seeds and berries, instead of the insects that they eat during the summer. In fact, many birds change their diets drastically when they go south and winter in forests ripe with fruits, berries, and flowers. Some Warblers start sipping nectar from flowers and eat fruit while in their tropical winter home. But that’s a whole other story that’s very complex and best explained by someone else. (I’ve been reading “Living on the Wind across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds” by Scott Weidensaul – absolutely a must read – it’s very well written and easy to read and understand)

Here’s one of those birds that should have migrated by now:

Common Grackle

Common Grackle

The Common Grackle. In summer we actually get annoyed with these birds. They are aggressive with the other birds and their song in not very attractive, but in some of these photos its actually kind of easy to appreciate their attractive plumage. In just the right light, the Grackle has the effervescent feathers that reflect purples, blues, and a brassy color when the sun’s rays hit them just right. They’re really quite beautiful.

Grackle

Grackle

Unfortunately, this bird has some sort of problem, as he should have migrated by now. It is rare that you see one of these birds all alone, most times they are in a tight flock. I can’t see if this bird is injured or not as it looks like he can fly okay. He eats sunflower seeds and drinks the fresh water.

Grackle, common

Grackle, common

I think he appreciates the food and water and I’m sure as the winter goes on that he will make an attempt to travel south if he is able.

Weasel/Ermine

Weasel/Ermine

And the birds aren’t the only ones that like the oasis, this little guy is also taking a part of the delicacy (suet) that hangs on the tree.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Watch Loons migrate

go to the following site to see how Loons migrate to the Gulf of Mexico

http://www.umesc.usgs.gov/terrestrial/migratory_birds/loons/migrations.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Watch Crane Lake freeze

by watching our webcams: http://visitcranelake.com/webcam/index.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ermine/Weasel

Ermine

Ermine

The cutest little critter showed its’ self the other day. It was a Weasel that had changed into his winter coat – and now he’s called an Ermine! He was zipping around getting ready for winter.

Weasel with cheesestick

Weasel with cheesestick

I watched him as he struggled with a packet of string cheese that I had thrown in the garbage the other day.

Weasel

Weasel

The string cheese was almost as big as the Weasel and he had a heck of a time moving it around. I felt sorry for him and I also didn’t want him to harm himself by eating the plastic wrap so I went out and unwrapped it for him. He could certainly have the cheese and he promptly carried it off to his hiding spot.

Weasel changing into an Ermine

Weasel changing into an Ermine

It’s interesting to see that he is changing from his summer coat of brown fur to his winter coat that will be snow white except for the black tip of his tail.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Crane Lake Area | Tagged | 2 Comments

They showed up today!

The Pine Grosbeaks have arrived!

I heard and watched several waves of Redpolls move through the Birch trees this morning as I was filling up the feeders. It had snowed/snizzled a little bit during the night and it was looking a lot like winter. Then I heard it – the twittery warble of a winter finch. I say winter finch because sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the different songs of the finches: Purple Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, Goldfinch, Redpoll. But I just knew in my heart that this bird’s song was the one finch that I was looking for, the gorgeous Pine Grosbeak, our Cardinal of the Boreal woods.

Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak

I watched them as they fed in a Jack Pine and then one flew down to an Ash Tree! They’ll find an abundant source of seeds this year in some of those trees.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Waiting for the Pineys

Any day now, the Pine Grosbeaks should be moving back into northern Minnesota for the winter. That is their idea of a southern vacation. Pine Grosbeaks spend most of the season in Canada where they breed, but come October and November, they start to wander south. One of the foods that they favor are the seeds of the Ash tree.

Ash tree laden with seed

Ash tree laden with seed

I watch these trees in particular during the late fall, because that is where it seems the first of the Pine Grosbeaks will stop and eat.

Ash seeds

Ash seeds

Some Ash trees in the area have an exceptional crop of seeds.
 
Here is a video that I took a few years ago of a couple of Pine Grosbeaks munching on the seeds. This video has had an incredible 27,203 views – the most of any of my videos – interesting.
 
 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

To Canada that is. Monday, Oct 10th is the date that Canada celebrates their Thanksgiving. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving_(Canada)

So I went out to my favorite bog habitat to try to find some ripe Cranberries.

Bog Cranberry

Bog Cranberry

I remembered that there were an abundance of Cranberry flowers this spring, see my previous blog post from June. https://blog.visitcranelake.com/wildflowers-aplenty/
 
 
Wild Cranberries

Wild Cranberries

And I wasn’t disappointed. I picked these Cranberries just from the trail without getting my feet wet. If I wanted more, I would have to go back with some good waterproof boots, or better yet, hip waders.
 
Hunting Shack River

Hunting Shack River

  

It has been a beautiful fall for hiking and hunting.  
 
 
 
 
 
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments