[Mnbird] early arrival/activity this week

linda whyte birds at moosewoods.us
Thu Feb 23 09:21:52 CST 2017

It would seem that unseasonably warm weather has played as much a role as
advancing daylight in triggering northward movement. Prompted by recent
posts, Rob and I decided to do a habitat drive-by in SE bluff country
Sunday, though we had no solid expectations of bird activity.
Choosing a land route, we drove through Zumbro Bottoms. There was little
surprise over the Rough-legged Hawk and the Red-tails and Bald Eagles, over
which we lost count somewhere in the teens. It was also within expectation
to see Horned Larks in the snow-free corn fields.
What did surprise, was seeing the Horned Larks engage in so much breeding
behavior. There was some lively territorial chasing, followed by perching
up on stalks, with loud bursts of song.
When we checked the viewing platform at Weaver Bottoms, there was nothing
new among the eagles, gulls, C. Mergansers, and Trumpeter Swans. But
driving through Whitewater's management area, where we were pleased to see
Cackling Geese among the Canadas and Mallards, we were brought to attention
by sunning turtles on a log. Having finally thought to check posts, we
headed west to Wells Lake on the Cannon. Arriving in waning light, we were
still able to pick out the Pie-billed Grebe, Redheads, and Canvasbacks.
Additional posts raised expectations further. Sure enough, yesterday at
Carpenter Nature Center, Sandhill Cranes flew over, and Red-winged
Blackbirds were heard singing. They inspired a stop at the 180th St. Marsh,
where Greater White-fronted Geese were feeding in the farm field behind the
north lake. There were also Pintails and American Wigeon on the lake, and a
calling Kildeer flew overhead.
All this early activity is exciting, but also disconcerting, with the
upcoming reversal in weather. The tiny bunch of flying insects in our yard
reminded that many of the travelers need live food that could be extremely
hard to come by in snow and cold. Hopefully, only the most adaptable have
moved so far.
Linda Whyte
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