T.R. Michels

T.R. Michels is a professional guide who specializes in trophy whitetail, turkey and bear hunts in Minnesota. He has guided in the Rocky Mountains for elk and mule deer, too. He publishes the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website at www.TRMichels.com.

Posts about Birding

Whooping Crane Facts

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 6, 2011 - 1:40 PM

At one time there were more than 10,000 whooping cranes in North America. But, due to hunting, human encroachment, egg poaching and habitat loss the population of the tallest bird in North America was reduced to 21 in the 1940's.

Whooping cranes may reach heights of 5 feet and have a wingspan of 7.5 feet, with lengths of 52 inches. The males average 17 pounds, females average 14 ponds. They are completely white with black wingtips, and red and black markings on the head. They breed in marshy areas such as muskeg and taiga. After the reintroduction of whooping cranes to the Necedah National Wildlife refuge in central Wisconsin, there are only two nesting locations the one being on that refuge and the other in Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada. As a result of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership Reintroduction Project, whooping cranes nested for the first time in 100 years in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Central Wisconsin. They nest on the ground, usually on a raised area in a marsh. The female lays 1 or 2 eggs, generally from late-April to mid-May. They incubate the eggs for 29–35 days. Both parents raise the young, although the female is more likely to tend to them than the male. Usually only one of the two chicks survive. The parents may feed the chicks for 6–8 months after they are hatched and end their parental care after about 1 year.

The western population of whooping canes, with 242 adults, 71 juveniles and 78 adults pairs as of 2010, winters along the Gulf Coast of Texas, near Corpus Christi on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma is a major migratory stopover for the crane population hosting over 75% of the species annually. The eastern population with 94 adults, 25 juveniles and 12 active nesting pairs as of 2010, summers on the Necedah Refuge and winters at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County, FL. The combined total of whooping cranes in the wild and in captivity in 2010 was approximately 564 birds. Due to poor nesting success on the Necedah Refuge, possibly due to high number of black flies, the whooping crane recovery team has made the decision not to release any more cranes on the Necedah Refuge, until such time as the cause of the nest abandonment issue is resolved.

I have been in contact with both the people at the International Crane Institute in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and at the Necdedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wiscons. I have been invited to both places to view and photograph the cranes, and learn as much about their biology and behavior, and their management and conservation concerns, as I can. I am looking forward to this opportunity this summer.We will be offering a Whooping Cane bus tour to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin, to view wild Whooping Cranes, and to the International Crane Institute in Baraboo Wisconsin, to view the cranes of the world - on July 14, 2011, and again on August 13, 2011. There will be room for approximately 50 people. This will be a great opportunity to photograph several species of crane from around the world. For more information TRMichels@yahoo.com .

 

 

 

Trumpeter Swan Facts

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 5, 2011 - 3:51 PM

Trumpeter swans (Cygnus buccinator) reach lengths of 60 inches, with wind spans of up to 95 inches. They weigh from 21 to 35 pounds, and can live up to 25 years. Nesting trumpeters can be found in western Montana, along the borders where Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska meet, and in central Minnesota and east central Wisconsin. They were once common throughout North America, but due to market hunting for down and feathers, plus subsistence hunting and egg collecting, they were presumed to be exterminated by the 1880's. In 1919 two nests were found in Yellowstone Park.

 

Minnesota swan restoration began in 1996 by the Hennepin County Parks commission. In 1982 the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources began a recovery program. By 1994 the project and released 215 swans, and there was an estimated free-flying flock of 250 birds in Minnesota. These birds winter on the Mississippi River just north of Minneapolis. This wintering area currently hosts about 900 swans from mid-November through late February.

 

Swans are bottom feeders, using their long necks to search for plants and tubers to eat from the bottoms of ponds, lakes and rivers. They begin nesting in mid-April, with nests as large as sex feet across, they often use muskrat or beaver hives as nesting platforms. They lay from 3 to 8 eggs, but have only a 30% hatching success ratio. Incubation lasts 33 days.

 

Newly hatched swans, called cygnets, may gain 20% of their body weight each day; they are fully feathered by 7-8 weeks, but are unable to fly until 15 weeks, they begin daily practice flights in mid-September. Cygnets are gray-colored for their first year.

 

The young swans remain with their parents throughout the winter. They are usually chased away from the parents during their second winter, but may stay with their siblings up to two years, thus most of the small groups seen flying consist of a mated pair, and their young of the past two years. During their second year young swans choose a mate on the wintering grounds; they remain mated to until one of them dies.

 

Young swans usually nest the first time between 3 and 6 years of age, on nests in remote areas, where they claim a territory of 3-6 acres; with a long expanse of open water, which they use to taxi before they take flight.

 

Lead poisoning from shotgun shell pellets, illegal hunting, power lines, predators and loss of habitat are the main threats to trumpeter swans.

 

Listen to a

Swan Call.

http://trmichels.com/TMOAdventuresMagazine.htm

http://trmichels.com/SwanPhotos.htm Trumpeter Swan Mating Display Photos

TRMichels@yahoo.com for more information. Also tours to view the wintering swans north of the Metro Area from mid-November through early March.

TRMichels@yahoo.com

We are available 7 days a week for Natural History Tours for Birding, Wildlflowers, Wolf Howling, Elk Bugling, Bald Eagles, Tundra Swans, Sharp-teild Grouse, Prairie Chicken dancing, and much more.

We will be offering a Whooping Cane bus tour to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in central Wisconsin, to view wild Whooping Cranes, and to the International Crane Institute in Baraboo Wisconsin, to view the cranes of the world - on July 14, 2011. There will be room for approximately 50 people. This will be a great opportuntiy to photograph several species of crane from around the world. Fo4r more information contact

Through Trinity Mountain Outdoors Nature Tours, I will be offering Trumpeter Swan tours to Crex Meadows in west central Wisconsin, any day from now until mid-October. Contact

You can view photographs and a mating sequence of Trumpeter Swans at

You can read about more bird and mammal facts on the Trinity Mountain Outdoors Natural History & Travel Magazine at

More Late May Birding Reports

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 3, 2011 - 4:33 PM

On May 26th, three apparent Black Vultures were reported from Grant County. While no further details are available, it is assumed that the location was about three miles east of County Road 11 along County Road 8. (The vultures we normally see here are Turkey Vultures, so called because the adults have red heads, like a turkey.)  

There was an interesting sighting of a Pacific Loon on May 28th on Leech Lake's Boy Bay in Cass County. It was seen by Andrew Birch from the Battle Point public access in Gould Township.

In Duluth, several Red-Throated Loons were on Lake Superior during the past week, seen mostly from the Park Point Recreation Area. A few Red Knots were found toward the end of Park Point on May 28th.

On May 28th, a Yellow-Breasted Chat was heard singing at Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington in Hennepin County. To view this bird, begin at the Bush Lake Beach parking lot, take the paved trail that goes east and south of the pond, and check about 50 yards beyond the trail stop sign. 

There was a big rush of  dozens of birders looking for the Yellow-breasted Chat that was seen at the Fens Unit of the MN River NWR in Burnsville, a couple of years ago, with the result that there was a lof ot habtit destruction. Please stay on the trails where possible, do not leave trash behind, and do not get too close to the birds, they may be nesting; too much human activity could result in them leaving the area.

Remember, introduce a family member, friend or or acquaintance to nature, birding, hiking, canoeing etc. Bring along lightweight rain gear, a guide book, notebook and pen, and  binoculars, spotting scope, and video or still camera for memories sake. Nature Photography is a great hobby.

 

God bless and enjoy our great outdoors,

 

T.R.

 

Guide Book: I bought a copy of Reader's Digest's North American Wildlife; Plants & Animals, off the internet from Amazon for $12.00. Not great - but good.  

Late May Minnesota Birding Report

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 3, 2011 - 1:20 PM
I do not know what happened with the first birding post, but I will try it again. 

A group of the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter took a trip to southeast Minnesota
last weekend. They saw or heard a late migrant Bufflehead in the marsh in La Crescent; 
Least Bittern at Mound Prairie March SMA; Sandhill Crane at Mound Prairie marsh WMA and 
along Highway 26, North of Brownsville in Houston County. Plus Eastern Screech Owl, Barred 
Owl, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Red-headed Woodpecker, Olive-sided 
Flycatcher, and an Acadian Flycatcher along the main creek trail in Beaver Creek Valley 
State Park. 

They also saw or heard  Veery, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler, a Prothonotary Warbler
nesting at Millstone landing along Highway 26, in Houston County. Louisiana Waterthrush
along the main creek trail, in Beaver Creek Valley state park. Wilson's Warbler,
Clay-colored Sparrow in Fillmore County and a Henslow's Sparrow both in Fillmore County
- Dr. Johan C Hvoslef WMA, and an Orchard Oriole. 

On Saturday at the SE corner of Carlos Avery Game Refuge, in Forest Lake, there was a 
Connecticut Warbler singing at 8:00am & 9:00am. It was at the intersection of 
Headquarters Rd & Pool 10 Rd. There is a small parking area where the 2 roads meet. 
There were also Blue-Winged Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Black-Billed Cuckoo & two 
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. 

My friend Linda Whyte heard a Hooded Warbler at Murphy-Hanrehan Park in Lakeville. It was
along the section of trail that is accessed across from the Horse Camp parking lot. Walk 
until you see the green park signs on either side of the path that prohibits entry due to
Oak Wilt. From there walk 350 steps farther along the trail, listening as you go. The bird
was singing on the left side of the trail.  There are a couple of informal paths that
lead in closer to the bird, and that's where we saw it in plain sight. A Henslow's 
Sparrow was heard and seen in the huge open area to the SE, just before you top the rise
toward the picnic table on the hill. Bobolinks were also prominent here. 

Note: If this is not the large prairie just southeast of the Horse Camp Parking Lot, then there are usually Bobolinks in that prairie. If you go all the way to the south end of the prairie, almost to the road that is the south boundary of the park, you may see and hear a Yellow-headed Blackbird in the western most marsh. I’ve seen him on the northwest edge of the marsh.

 

Late May Minnesota Birding Report

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 3, 2011 - 1:20 PM
I do not know what happened with the first birding post, but I will try it again. 

A group of the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter took a trip to southeast Minnesota
last weekend. They saw or heard a late migrant Bufflehead in the marsh in La Crescent; 
Least Bittern at Mound Prairie March SMA; Sandhill Crane at Mound Prairie marsh WMA and 
along Highway 26, North of Brownsville in Houston County. Plus Eastern Screech Owl, Barred 
Owl, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Red-headed Woodpecker, Olive-sided 
Flycatcher, and an Acadian Flycatcher along the main creek trail in Beaver Creek Valley 
State Park. 

They also saw or heard  Veery, Wood Thrush, Blue-winged Warbler, a Prothonotary Warbler
nesting at Millstone landing along Highway 26, in Houston County. Louisiana Waterthrush
along the main creek trail, in Beaver Creek Valley state park. Wilson's Warbler,
Clay-colored Sparrow in Fillmore County and a Henslow's Sparrow both in Fillmore County
- Dr. Johan C Hvoslef WMA, and an Orchard Oriole. 

On Saturday at the SE corner of Carlos Avery Game Refuge, in Forest Lake, there was a 
Connecticut Warbler singing at 8:00am & 9:00am. It was at the intersection of 
Headquarters Rd & Pool 10 Rd. There is a small parking area where the 2 roads meet. 
There were also Blue-Winged Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Black-Billed Cuckoo & two 
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. 

My friend Linda Whyte heard a Hooded Warbler at Murphy-Hanrehan Park in Lakeville. It was
along the section of trail that is accessed across from the Horse Camp parking lot. Walk 
until you see the green park signs on either side of the path that prohibits entry due to
Oak Wilt. From there walk 350 steps farther along the trail, listening as you go. The bird
was singing on the left side of the trail.  There are a couple of informal paths that
lead in closer to the bird, and that's where we saw it in plain sight. A Henslow's 
Sparrow was heard and seen in the huge open area to the SE, just before you top the rise
toward the picnic table on the hill. Bobolinks were also prominent here. 

Note: If this is not the large prairie just southeast of the Horse Camp Parking Lot, then there are usually Bobolinks in that prairie. If you go all the way to the south end of the prairie, almost to the road that is the south boundary of the park, you may see and hear a Yellow-headed Blackbird in the western most marsh. I’ve seen him on the northwest edge of the marsh.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT