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.

List No. 8 -- 20 good places to bird, more or less nearby

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird travels, Minnesota birding sites Updated: January 27, 2015 - 9:18 PM

20 Birding Hot Spots within 274 miles of Minneapolis 
(as chosen by National Geographic)

Gunflint Trail
Sax-Zim Bog
Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge
McGregor Marsh State Natural Area
Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge
Felton Prairie
Rothsay Wildlife Management Area
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge
Beaver Creek Valley State Park
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area
Wyalusing State Park

South Dakota
Sica Hollow State Park
Waubay National Wildlife Refuge
Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Newton Hills State Park

North Dakota
Sheyenne National Grassland
Oak Grove Park, Fargo

Lost Island Nature Center, Ruthven
Effigy Mounds National Monument (along Mississippi River)

co2 as 2014 ends

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation Updated: January 1, 2015 - 4:00 PM

For the past week, concentration of co2 in the atmosphere, measurements from Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, in parts per million (ppm):

December 31 - 399.57 ppm 
December 30 - 398.89 
December 29 - 398.93 
December 28 - 398.64 
December 27 - 398.38

Weekly value one year ago, Dec. 31, 2013 — 397.26 ppm
Weekly value 10 years ago — 377.78 ppm
800,000 years ago — 260 ppm

A good birder and gentleman, gone

Posted by: Jim Williams Updated: December 31, 2014 - 10:09 AM

If you are not an active member of the Minnesota birding community you probably did not know Warren Nelson of Aitkin. Warren died this week. He'll be missed. I knew him as the most knowledgeable person about birds in his home county, Aitkin, one of our best places to bird. Warren knew it border to border, and he was always willing to share the best spots to bird and his most recent sightings. Sharing is one of the keys to success in the field, essential for the seeker. Warren made birding in his neighborhood rewarding and exciting. He was content to know that one place in detail, and, again, to share what he knew. That's a special kind of birding, and it takes a special birder. 

"Birds of Minnesota State Parks"

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird books, Bird travels, Minnesota birding sites Updated: December 26, 2014 - 3:56 PM

A book describing birding opportunities in Minnesota’s 75 state parks and recreation areas is in final proofing stage, with publication hoped for March. This will be a must-have for anyone birding beyond their backyard.


The title is “Birds of Minnesota State Park,” the author Robert B. Janssen. He spent 11 years making multiple visits to the parks, to cover both nesting species and migrants.


All of the parks are here, from Beaver Creek Valley State Park deep in the southeast corner of the state to Zippel Bay State Park on the shore of Lake of the Woods. Parks are arranged by counties within the state’s four biomes: tallgrass prairie, tallgrass aspen parkland, hardwood forest, and pine forest.


Janssen’s text covers habitat of each park, pointing out landscape features that can offer particular birding opportunities. He describes in general the bird families likely to be seen, along with particular areas recommended for close examination for particular species. 


The book is fat with maps showing park locations, and details within each park — trails, campsites, water access, parking, and more. Many bird species of particular interest appear in color photos. 


The book has 218 pages plus index. The American Birding Association Code of Ethics for birders is included.


Janssen is author of “Birds in Minnesota,” a guide to the distribution of 400 species of birds in Minnesota. It was issued in paper by the University of Minnesota Press in 1987, and remains in print. It can be considered an essential for serious birders here.


“Birds of Minnesota State Parks” will be published by the Minnesota Division of State Parks and Trails. It will appear under the guidance of Carrol L. Henderson, who guides non-game wildlife programs for the Department of Natural Resources.


The comprehensive bird lists found in the book are available online at mn.dnr.gov


co2 level for today, Dec. 22, is 398.74 ppm

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation Updated: December 22, 2014 - 2:47 PM

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today, Dec. 22, is 398.74 parts per million (ppm). 


The level one week ago was 399.26.


One year ago = 396.80.


1958 = 318


800,000 years ago = 260


In April, May, and June of 2014 the level exceeded 400 ppm, highest in almost one million years. 


Readings are taken daily at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Go to https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/


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