In search of winter birds

  • Article by: BILL MARCHEL , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 5, 2013 - 6:49 PM

A number of winged creatures will call Minnesota home for the winter. Some tips on finding and attracting these colorful cold-weather residents.

view larger photos

  

 

When Minnesotans think of migrating birds, they often lament losing the colorful birds of summer. Orioles, warblers, robins, hummingbirds and others leave us in late summer, traveling many miles to warmer climes. For now they are just memories. ¶ We can, however, delight in the fact that some bird species migrate from Canada and the Arctic for a four- or five-month stay in Minnesota. Believe it or not, our cold state — one of the coldest — is a winter destination for some of the prettiest species. Birds such as common redpolls, pine grosbeaks, Bohemian waxwings, snow buntings and several species of owls find our cold weather to their liking. ¶ Of course, many beautiful birds are year-round Minnesota residents, too. Perhaps the most popular is the diminutive but ever active black-capped chickadee. Even on the most blustery winter days, chickadees are out and about. They can be found readily in almost every habitat type and, of course, are easily attracted to bird feeders. ¶ Blue jays are another permanent resident of Minnesota. Scorned by some because of their bossy attitude around bird feeders, many birders find them strikingly attractive, and can’t imagine a winter without them.

Another full-time Minnesota resident is the northern cardinal. What can you say about the brilliant red males? They’re so radiant they seem out of place on the gray-white winter landscape — as if they are unreal. Female cardinals are much more subtle in color, but even they are a lesson in beauty.

So far it has been a fairly slow year for birds migrating into Minnesota. But it’s still early in the winter season. Flocks of Bohemian waxwings have already been spotted in various locations in northern and central Minnesota. Expect more and other species in the coming weeks.

Bohemian waxwings, colorful and often very tame, are usually seen in large flocks during winter as they feed on the remaining fruit of mountain ash, crabapples and buckthorns. Waxwings are highly nomadic, but travel only as far as needed to find food. Good spots to check are city parks, cemeteries and any place where ornamental fruit trees and shrubs have been planted.

Pine grosbeaks are often found in the same locations as waxwings. The adult males are a vivid pink and the females and young males a dull gray with yellowish heads. Like many winter birds, Grosbeaks are easily attracted to back yard bird feeders where their favorite food is sunflower seeds.

 

Bill Marchel, an outdoors writer and photographer, lives near Brainerd.

















 

  • related content

  • Cabin Country: Our family cabin, in three acts

    Thursday December 12, 2013

    My “cabin/shack”story began in 1948. I was 9 years old and my family — Mom, Dad, my 4-year-old brother and...

  • Pheasant hunting memories: 'We laughed at our good fortune'

    Thursday December 5, 2013

    As pheasant season draws to a close, a hunter recalls the late-season trip when his luck turned.

  • How to ... Hunt ruffed grouse this late in the season

    Thursday December 5, 2013

    BRAINERD, MINN. – October has much to offer the Minnesota hunter — ducks, geese, bowhunting for deer. As for ruffed...

  • Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes: Keeping safe on and around lake ice

    Thursday December 5, 2013

    Soon after freeze-up, the ice sheets on lakes can be heard cracking, thundering and rumbling. These loud, long roars and...

  • Do This Now: Editor-selected events at state, regional and local parks

    Thursday December 5, 2013

    1 Bird watching trekMinnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Dec. 7, 8-10 a.m.Meet at the refuge’s Wilkie Unit, in Shakopee, for...

  • Common redpolls, like this colorful male, often invade Minnesota in huge numbers during winter. Look for them in weedy fields or at back yard feeding stations.

  • A male pine grosbeak makes a mess of himself as he feeds on crabapples. Pine grosbeaks migrate to Minnesota during winter. Some years they are common, other years they are scarce.

  • Bohemian waxwings migrate to Minnesota during winter. They can be found in flocks of 50 or more as they feed on most any fruit still clinging to branches.

  • Like cardinals, blue jays are common year-round. They can be bossy and aggressive, but their striking color cannot be denied.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close