Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bird Talk in downtown Warren Minnesota

I made a stop at Dale's Supermarket in downtown Warren today, and was pleasantly surprised that the conversation at the check-out line was all about birds. 

"Are you still looking for Snowy Owls?" asked the woman in front of me.  "Yes," I said.   "Seen any lately?"

Why yes, she said, just the other day.  She told me her story about the huge owl she spotted over by Carpenter's Corner (east of Warren on MN Highway 1). 

Call me if you see another one, I said as she grabbed her bags and headed out the door. 

Then my groceries started to move forward on the belt, the woman at the check out counter told me about her close encounter with an adult Bald Eagle along the highway.  The bird was dining on a deer carcass.

Seeing our National Bird eating roadkill didn't seem to bother her at all.

She went on to share another memorable eagle-along-the-road experience.  She was on a bus when an eagle started to fly at eye-level, right outside her window.  The bird kept up with the bus, for what seemed like miles.  Way cool!

On my way home, as I drove past the Agassiz Valley Flood Control impoundment, I picked up a bird story of my own - one that I shared at the watershed district meeting early this evening.

I spotted a pair of grouse up a tree in the snow.  Nothing unusual about that - except they weren't the usual tree grouse - the Sharp-tailed.  They were Prairie Chickens!

The first time I've seen them near the Audubon Center - and the first time I've ever seen them in trees.   It looked like they were eating buds - everything else was encased in snow and ice.

Prairie Chickens up a tree

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Foggy Winter Surprise

I wasn't looking for birds this afternoon.  But I brought my cameras along - just in case I came across a Snowy Owl or that elusive Short-eared Owl down the road by the impoundment.  Other than the frozen fog, which I've only experienced once before, there wasn't much to see.

Or so I thought.

I was out looking for places to put utility poles for our Community Nest Watch program when I noticed a bird along the shoulder of the road.  At first glance, the "giss" (pronunciation: "jizz") screamed "thrush."  Could it be a west coast robin - a Varied Thrush?

I backed up - and, of course, the thrush flew off.  I waited.  It returned.

American Robin

Not a Varied Thrush - it was an American Robin.

No, it's not the first sign of spring - the day after Ground Hog's Day.

It's not that unusual to see them in the Upper Midwest during the winter.  But what was it doing on the side of the road?

I sat and patiently watched as this thrush lifted leaves and pulled at grasses.  I've seen them act like Cedar Waxwings and eat fruits and berries this time of year, but there aren't any berries under the leaves along the roadside in Marshall County Minnesota in February.

It could be that the unseasonably warm weather the past couple days has awaken some invertebrates along the roadside.  Maybe there were insects under those leaves.  Whatever it was, that bird wasn't about to leave it.

But I had get going...

Not a great day to look birds.  But there's always something to see in this neck of the woods - despite the weather.