February 3rd, 2008


Northern Birding

I was up at freakin' 5:30 am yesterday to head out on a birdwatching trip in Northern Minnesota with Stan Tekiela and Sharon the BirdChick. I was actually running right on schedule until I got to Eden Prairie. Eden Prairie is an evil vortex of a black hole and it is impossible to find your way around in it! I've been to the Staring Lake Outdoor Center at least four or five times before, and I looked on the map before I left. I still got lost on my way there! Luckily Sharon called and Stan guided me in so that I could get there before Stan left without me!

Most of the ride up was spent chatting with two folks, Steve and Kathy, that I had been on trips with before, as well as Sharon & Stan. It was a really fun day, with a total of 20 different birds spotted.

The coolest thing we saw, however, was not a bird.

It was a wolf!!!
A freakin' honest-to-gosh wild wolf that crossed the road right in front of us and ran off into the woods! I didn't get a picture of him, but it was pretty darn amazing!

And now, pictures:

The first stop was a group of feeders where there were a bunch of Common Redpolls and Pine Grosbeaks gathered. There was also a Hoary Redpoll that made a brief appearance but I didn't get a picture of him.

The bigger bird here with the Redpolls is one of the female Pine Grosbeaks.

I really like the way I caught the bird in flight coming in to the feeder.

We saw a Black-backed Woodpecker and as I tried to take a picture of him on the tree trunk he took off just as I snapped the picture.

We also saw American Three-toed Woodpeckers. The red area on this tree is where the woodpecker has already picked off the bark to get at the larvae underneath.

One of the birds that I had never seen before was the adorable Gray Jay. They weren't very afraid of people, and so I was able to get pictures from pretty close up. They were very charming little guys!


Oh yeah, I forgot... I was gonna put the list of all the different birds we saw on here after all the pictures... oops!

The list:
Red-tailed Hawk (really, you can't drive 3 hours on a Minnesota highway and *not* see one!)
Bald Eagle
Pine Grosbeak
Common Redpoll
Hoary Redpoll

Northern Shrike
Black-backed Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Gray Jay
Hawk Owl
Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee
Ruffed Grouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

The ones in bold are the ones I had never seen before! In fact, this was a first for Stan & Sharon because they had a bus full (12 of us, I think) and NONE of us had ever seen a Boreal Chickadee before. It was like a birding hat trick. Everything else at least one of us had seen before.