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.
Here is a list of bird species seen Saturday morning at Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge west of Sioux Falls, S.D. The temperature was in the 40s, heading for an afternoon high of 52. (Monday the temp is to be 70.) Soon, large flocks of Sandhill Cranes will be moving north through eastern SD.
Canada Goose - 1,000+
Greater White-fronted Goose-80
Bald Eagle-11 with 2 ON
Rough-legged Hawk 1
American Tree Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird-many huge flocks
A couple of weeks I wrote about a Red-throated Loon that was being treated at the Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (MWRC) in Roseville. The bird was found grounded in Isanti County. Basically, it was hungry. This species and many other waterbirds normally winter on open water in one of the Great Lakes. Given our winter, open water is scarce. So, the loon went searching. The bird, fit again, was flown to New Jersey for release on the Atlantic Ocean. KARE-TV has a nice video that tells the story. Go to www.kare11.com. Use the search function to find "loon" within the 30-day time slot offered.
Another rehab story concerns a juvenile Trumpeter Swan that lost parts of its toes to frostbite. It was brought to the MWRC with a head injury and frostbitten feet. The swan had the same problem as the loon -- no open water. Trumpeter Swans in this area for years have congregated by the hundreds downstream from the Xcel Energy Plant at Monticello. The plant is temporarily shutdown. The warm discharge water from the plant's cooling system was what kept water open. Without that, these birds were forced to look far and wide for open water. Stand around on ice or frozen ground and your toes are in danger. The swan at MWRC was fed, and veterinarians amputated the frozen ends of its toes and some of the webbing between toes. The vets who treated the bird are not certain how it will fare when back in the wild, but will release the bird and give it a chance.
I've heard that there is a possible investigation by law enforcement agents into owl baiting in Ramsey. Baiting for photographs has been described by some people as falling under wildlife harassment restrictions.
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