Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
A very unusual bird has been seen for the past three days on a farm west of Blue Earth. A Wood Stork, a bird of Florida and the southeastern coast, has been entertaining birders since being reported to the birding community (email) on June 19. This is a juvenile bird, as indicated by its very pronounced head feathers. The Minnesota visitor is shown in the first photo. The second photo shows an adult Wood Stork, with its typical featherless head. Note also the difference in bill color. The Birds of North America monograph on this species explains that fledglings disperse widely after leaving the nesting colony. There are records for this species as far west as California and up the east coast into Canada. One other Wood Stork has been reported here, in Grand Marais several years ago. Both Dakotas, Iowa, and Wisconsin have records. In its usual habitat Wood Storks eat mostly fish. The diet can include insects, snails, crayfish, frogs, snakes, birds, small mammals, as well as some plant material. The Blue Earth stork has been seen feeding in standing water in a field adjacent to the farm. No one has offered comment on what it might be eating. Nor can anyone say how long it will remain. Wood Stork is the only stork species breeding in the U.S., and is our tallest wading bird, measuring just over three feet tall. Folk names for this species include Flinthead and Ironhead. The adult bird shown here was photographed along the west coast of Florida three years ago.
Right now -- 12:45 p.m. Friday -- you can watch South American birds eating bananas at a research station feeder by going to
The camera is on most days. There is a second camera, different location, buzzing with hummingbirds, but picture quality is lousy.
Western Grebes can be found on Swan Lake in Nicollet County. I wrote the other day about the grebes at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota. A correspondent from Blue Earth wrote to tell me that Swan Lake is a viewing site close to the Twin Cities. As added attraction is also holds breeding Horned Grebes, Eared Grebes, and Pied-billed Grebes. Swan Lake is a grebe grand-slam. It also is a large lake where decent viewing is likely to require binoculars at least and a spotting scope at best.
The lake is east of New Ulm and north of U.S. Highway 14. Mapping software says it is a drive of about 90 miles made in just under two hours from Minneapolis. Follow Highway 169 south, turning west on Highway 14 at St. Peter. An alternate route is Highway 212 west to Highway 25/5, south then to Gaylord where you take Highway 111 to the eastern shore of the lake.
Below, Eared Grebes, one of the grebe species found on Swan Lake.
A quick trip into South Dakota produced this Swainson's Hawk, upset as we walked into a deserted farmstead. A pair of the birds had a nest in a woodlot on the property. Shorebirds were easier to find in the northeast than elsewhere, inspite of much standing water. This American Avocet was found at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge. West of the Missouri River, in grassland and pasture, meadowlarks and Lark Buntings were the major attractions. I was surprised at the lack of raptors. Perhaps, as the Swainson's were, these birds were staying close to nests.
Tuesday, 8:47 a.m.: A few minutes ago my wife called to me, noting a strange bird on our deck. It was sitting on the back of a chair. Then it fluttered against the patio-door glass, perhaps wishing to come indoors. It displaced a chickadee at a feeder filled with sunflower chips. Then back to the door. It was a Cape May Warbler, for us new for the season and the yard. It said goodbye after somehow clinging to the glass, sort of like a tree frog, maybe begging to get out of the wind. The wind took it then, and it was gone. Strange. It must be the weather, this weird and terrible weather. The photo is of a Cape May acting in normal fashion.
|Movies (2)||Weather (1)|
|Animals (3)||Photos (2)|
|Holiday shopping (2)||Bird biology (318)|
|Bird books (100)||Bird conservation (200)|
|Bird feeding (91)||Bird identification (167)|
|Bird interactions (56)||Bird migration (159)|
|Bird personalities (25)||Bird sightings (166)|
|Bird travels (116)||Birds in the backyard (118)|
|Minnesota birding sites (53)||Nesting (76)|
|Problem birds (2)||Art (1)|
|Photography (2)||Events (1)|
|Birding equipment (37)|