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.

Birds seen in SE South Dakota Saturday a.m.

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird sightings Updated: March 15, 2014 - 3:52 PM

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+
Cackling Goose-32
Snow Goose-2,000
Greater White-fronted Goose-80
Lesser Scaup-50
Hooded Merganser-6
Common Merganser-180
Ruddy Duck-4
Common Goldeneye-30
Northern Pintail-20
Blue-winged Teal-20
Bald Eagle-11 with 2 ON
Northern Harrier-2
Red-tailed Hawk-3
Rough-legged Hawk 1
Ring-necked Pheasant
American Crow-21
Western Meadowlark-5
Horned Lark
American Tree Sparrow
American Robin
European Starling
Red-winged Blackbird-many huge flocks
Eastern Bluebird-3
Song Sparrow-1
Downy Woodpecker-1

Red-throated Loon: Recovered, relocated, released

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation Updated: March 15, 2014 - 11:33 AM

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.

Baiting investigation by law enforcement?

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: March 10, 2014 - 11:48 AM

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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