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.

Another really low seed price

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird feeding Updated: November 21, 2014 - 10:01 AM

Fifty pounds of black oil sunflower seed for $16.95. That's the current price at Krause Feeds in Hope, Minnesota, an hour's dash down I-35 if you are a southern suburber. That's just a twitch above cost. 

Winter visitors possible -- List No. 6

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird sightings Updated: November 19, 2014 - 5:46 PM

Pine Siskin

Common Redpoll

Pine Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Tree Sparrow


Purple Finch

Red Crossbill

White-winged Crossbill

Gyrfalcon (we should be so lucky)    

Long-tailed Duck

Gray Jay

Common Eider


Varied Thrush

Snowy Owl


Common Eider, female: two plus a juvenile seen in Duluth and Two Harbors recently.

Improved design for a field guide

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird books Updated: November 17, 2014 - 5:24 PM

There’s not been much innovation in the design of birding field guides from Peterson forward. With the exception of Crossley’s book with its Cineramic and odd presentation of birds in every posture and pose, guide books have been pretty much cut from the same template forever.


There is an exception, a new guide from Princeton University Press that takes a fresh look at combination of illustrations and text, a change that makes very good sense. The subject of the book is a little off the useful track in Minnesota, being the well-done second edition of “Birds of New Guinea,” but that’s beside the point. 


The authors — or the designer if there was that specific person — have paired bird illustrations  with facing pages containing abbreviated text with range map, enough information to answer the pressing question — what am I seeing.


The second half of the book contains the expanded versions of this information — the details on size, status, plumages, habits, voice, and range. This is where you go for the more discussion of what you might have seen on today’s trip into the field.


This design offers the reader a more convenient book. It's a good idea.


Bright cold Sunday morning

Posted by: Jim Williams under Birds in the backyard Updated: November 16, 2014 - 8:55 AM

Rufous Hummingbird update

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Bird conservation Updated: November 12, 2014 - 10:02 PM

Rufous Hummingbird update: While Wildlife Rehab Center personnel continue to look for a plane and pilot to fly the bird to Arizona, it is resting comfortably at the center. In the photo you see this handsome bird in its travel cage, a cage smaller than the flight cage it would occupy if not being prepped for travel. It enjoyed the large care after its capture on Tuesday. (See previous posts.) At the far right you see the business end of a syringe used to feed the bird. It is given a mixture of nectar mixed with the proteins and vitamins hummingbirds need for a balanced diet. Nectar alone will not sustain the bird for long. In the wild, the hummer would be eating insects. The search for a ride has turned to private or corporate planes, with pilot. Working with commercial airlines is complicated, according to Tami Vogel, communications director for the center.


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