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

Reintroduced Whooping Crane News

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 3, 2011 - 1:05 PM

The two Whooping Cranes seen near Dennison a few weeks ago, do have radio tracking devices, but they can only be picked up by radio receivers. A few others in the population have platform terminal transmitters which ping an orbiting satellite on a scheduled duty cycle and those are the ones that the researchers receive information on on a regular basis.

The current concern for the cranes is people shooting the birds. Since Nov 30, 2010 a total of 5 Whooping cranes have been shot; 3 in one incident (Georgia) and 2 in another (Alabama). While the whole population is still considered young, the cranes are forming pair bonds, and mating, building nests, and even producing eggs, but they have been abandoning their nests before hatching. Some people think it is due to the very large concentration of Black flies in the Necedah area. Something that can be dome to control the Black Flies is a bacterium found in soil called Bti or Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis. Since 1982, it has been used successfully worldwide as a biological pest control agent to combat mosquitoes and black flies.

The first Wisconsin raised chick was produced in 2006 and followed its parents to Florida. Since then it has migrated successfully and has even paired with another crane and this year they produced a chick of her own. Of the 20 nests this year, 4 have produced chicks.

The Whooping Crane recovery team made the decision this year to not release any more cranes on the Necedah refuge, until such time as the cause of the nest abandonment issue is resolved. In they will move their base of operations for the ultralight-aircraft release to the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County, WI. There is more nformation available on this on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/OperationMigration

 

In theory the cranes that they work with this year will return in the spring of 2012 to the White River Marsh area. There are already some Whooping Cranes in the general vicinity and they are far away from Necedah, so the researchers have little doubt that they'll be able to find each other when the urge strikes them.

 

Hunters Guilty of Shooting Cranes

Two people have pleaded guilty in the death of a Whooping Crane, which was migrating from Wisconsin to Florida. Wade Bennett of Cayuga pleaded guilty March 30 in Vermillion County to false reporting. He was ordered to serve one year of probation and pay approximately $500 in fines and fees. The juvenile, who was considered the prime suspect received probation, fines and fees. Bennett was 18 when the crane was found dead on Dec. 1, 2009. The female Whooping Crane, one of less than 400 left in the wild, was the mother of the first whooping crane chick successfully hatched and fledged in the wild by cranes raised in captivity.

Hunters in southwestern Georgia found the carcasses of three whooping cranes. They were discovered on Dec. 30 near Albany, Calhoun County.Tom MacKenzie, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the three, all equipped with radio transmitters, had been tracked Dec. 10 in Hamilton, Tenn., where they were roosting. The US Fish & Wildlife service has offered a reward of $12,500 for information leading to the killers. The carcasses were sent to a lab in Oregon for examination.

Links to articles about the cranes and crane shootings.
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/01/12/3-endangered-whooping-cranes-shot-in-Ga/UPI-24841294878519/#ixzz1OAaUvUFA

http://cs.birdwatchingdaily.com/BRDCS/blogs/field_of_view/archive/2011/04/19/killers-of-whooping-crane-in-indiana-receive-probation-1-fine.aspx

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2011/01/12/3-endangered-whooping-cranes-shot-in-Ga/UPI-24841294878519/

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-01-13/us/georgia.cranes.shot_1_whooping-crane-eastern-partnership-international-crane-foundation-feds-offer-reward?_s=PM:US

http://bringbackthecranes.org/media/2011/nr18February2011.html

 

Birding Report

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 3, 2011 - 12:38 PM
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 marsh WMA; 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. 

Plus a 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 south of the Horse Parking lot, then there are usually Bobolinks in that prairie. And 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.

Research Bears, Deer & Asian Carp - All About Management

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 27, 2011 - 6:03 PM

May Deer Management

During May both bucks and does may begin to move to summer home ranges. Does will begin looking for fawning locations, and most fawns wilbe born by mid-June.  

Herd Health and Social Structure

More and more hunters are interested in hunting for trophy animals. But, because State game managers are often interested in providing a large, healthy, balanced herd, and not necessarily trophy animals, these hunters are taking it upon themselves to try to increase their chances of seeing a trophy by some type of deer management (sometimes with the emphasis on growing trophies) and improving the habitat. Hunters who are only interested in helping the animals grow bigger racks by providing food plots, minerals and limiting their hunting to larger racked animals often unwittingly improve the quality of the entire herd. Not only will the bucks use the food and minerals, but so will the does and fawns. If the hunter then passes up smaller animals he gives them a chance to mature, develop fully and contribute to the gene pool.

Deer Management Practices

There is no question that deer herds must be managed. Increasing human populations, urban sprawl and changing land practices have led to less available deer habitat while deer herds have continued to increase, which has led to an overpopulation of deer in many areas. This has compelled wildlife managers to issue abundant doe permits each year in order to keep the deer herds within the carrying capacity of the available habitat.

The deer management practices of many wildlife agencies revolve around the need to balance the deer herds in relation to the habitat while still trying to keep deer populations high enough for hunting, with hunting as the primary method of deer reduction. The current practice of keeping deer populations high enough that they can be hunted, and the past management practice of bucks only hunting, combined with the belief by many hunters that they should only shoot bucks if they want to keep deer numbers high, is precisely the reason why there are too many deer, particularly does.

It is usually too many does (as in Minnesota and Wisconsin), not too many bucks - in a deer herd that prompts game managers to issue numerous doe permits (in the hopes that enough deer will be removed to keep their numbers at acceptable levels). Eventually this becomes a vicious cycle and both the deer and the habitat suffer. The effects of this cycle generally result in low buck:doe ratios and fewer numbers of dominant breeding bucks, which leads to breeding periods that are later, and longer, than they should be, resulting in poor spring survival rates of fawns.

To add to the problem of too many deer, but not enough bucks, the interest in trophy hunting for white-tailed deer has skyrocketed in the past few years. This interest in high scoring whitetail racks by numerous hunters puts added pressure on the already depleted number of large antlered animals, and further reduces the number of available older dominant breeding bucks. Fewer numbers of bucks, particularly older dominants, result in fewer contacts between the does and the priming pheromones deposited by bucks at rubs and scrapes. These priming pheromones are thought to cause the does to come into estrus and help synchronize the rut activity between the does and the bucks. When these pheromones are absent the does may come into estrus from as early as mid-October to as late as January.

In a deer management study by Larry Marchinton between 1981 and 1986, an increase in the buck to doe ratio from 25:100 in 1981-82, to 54:100 in 1983-84 resulted in the average breeding date changing from November 11 in 1981 to October 15 in 1982, almost a month earlier than normal, and the length of the breeding period was shortened from 96 to 43 days. In another study using quality management techniques, the average breeding date occurred almost two months earlier.

 

Watershed Management: Invasive Species Control   

If you have not already done so, please read Dennis Anderson's article in the outdfoors section on this website, about the Asian Carp Invasion in Minnesota at http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/117452053.html?page=all&prepage=1&c=y#continue . 

If we do not do something - no - everything - we can - to stop invasive, non-native species from overtaking the eco-systemf of Minnesota, we are going to ruin many of the eco-systems we have, and loose many of the fish species so important to Minnesotan's for fishing pleasure, and the State of Minnesota as a tourism draw. You can help in this effort - by doing the same thing you have already been doing to protect the research bears -  e-mail your state representative and senator, and ask them to agree that we need to test the water of the Mississippi River near the Iowa border, and the Minnesota and St.Croix Rivers where they empty into the Mississippi River, so we can determine if Asian Carp have already entered into those water.

We also need to implement the best means of stopping these fish, or any more these fish, from geting into the Mississipi River above Iowa, and the Minnesota River and St. Croix River. And we need to do it now, or it may be too late, if is not too late  already. I guess it is just coincidental that I have been talking about eco-system and watershed management this last week. 

 

Protecting Minnesota's Research Bears - The Other Side of The Coin 

I'v tried to geat an answer to the question of why the legislators on the commission overseeing the bill that contiained the Bear Protction Ammendment, did not make it into the final bill, and thus was never voted on. Unfortunately, none of the people on the commission, nor Rep. Phyllis Kahn, or Commisioner Landwehr, have bothered to answer me. However, after speaking to a few of Minnesota's influential hunting /conservation organization leaders, and reading some of the 100 posts on the Protect Minnesota's Research Bears Facebook page (at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Protect-Minnesotas-Research-Bears/160331730697185?ref=ts, and on the Lily; The Black Bear Facebook page (with a combined total of over 132,000 "likes"), and the 100+ e-mails I have received as a result of this Blog, it appears that at least one of the concerns about allowing protection for these bears is that it may result in Minnesotas citizens seeking protection for more bears, or more groups of animals, or other animal species.This is commonly refered to as the "slippery slope" argument. It also leads to the belief and statement that "if you give them an inch, they will take a mile."  While this might make for a great "sound bite", it does not make for a good argument. It might be an excuse, but as a reason for not protecting the research bears. It "does not hold water". 

Why do I say this? Because after spending at least an hour on the Internet, looking for examples of the protection of any animal leading to attempts to protect some other group of animals, or the entire species, or the protection of some other species, based (usually) on some frivolous reason, such as they are different than the other animals of the same species (as in white, pied or black colored deer, bears, turkey, ducks, pheasants, fish, reptiles, amphibians etc.) or some other genetic anomally - I cannot find one single instance where the protection of one group of animals has led to calls for the protection of another animal, or more animals of the same species, or an entire species.  

One other reason why those against protection of the research bears do not want protection for them, is their excuse that they are wild animals, that are legal to hunt, therefore there is no reason to protect them. To that I say, "That is an excuse, not a reason. The results of the research into the houlry, daily, weekly, monthy and yearly lives of these animals, has already shown itself to be imporant to better understanding the lives of black bears and the interrelationship between the members of this family of radio collared bears, and to better bear managemen. Not to say anything about the educational value of these particular bears (not some other bears, or even any other bears) for not only adults, but also for thousands of school chidlren around the world, and the economic value to the State of Minnesota, the town of Ely and the surrounding areas. Because some of the people who have already visited the Bear Center have come from other countries, the economic value stretches to  the country as a whole. And right now, we need every bit of any economic value that we can find.        

 

Conservation relies on wildlife and habitat management, and wildlife and habitat management relies on research.

If you want to protect, preserve and conserve wildlife species and wildlife habitat, research (for yourself) why and how everything on the earth, is interconnected and dependent on each other If the animals are not in balance with the habitat, it makes for an unhealthy eco-system. And an unhealty eco-system either heals iteslf, is healed with the help of man, or it dies.   

While it may not be neccessarily true that if a bird dies in North America, a tree in Brazil dies - it can be true that the death of a tree in Brazil, can lead to the death of a bird in North America. Look up (for yourself) how Brazilian coffee trees affect songbirds here in North America - you'll learn better if I don't have to explain it with my limited understanding. .

 

I'm going to be setting up Natural History Eco-Tours for Bears, Wolves, Eagles, Swans and Cranes here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and Elk Bugling Tours to Custer State Park in early September, and Wildlife Tours to Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks in mid and late September for big game photography and viewing. If you are interested contact me at TRMichels@yahoo.com.   

God bless and enjoy our Great Outdoors,

 

T.R.      

 

May 10 Birding Report

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: May 16, 2011 - 2:15 PM

On May 8, I realized that I had not seen a Dark-eyed Junco for about 5 days, and
that I had not seen a White-throated or
White-crowned Sparrow in about 2days.I
suspect the weather changesduring the previousweekconvincedthebirds to continue
theirmigration north.


I heard the first
Great Crested Flycatcher in the backyard. Later that day my
wife Diane and I walked along the
Minnesota River bottom at Crosby Farm Park,
west of the Highway 110 bridge in St. Paul, where we heard or saw FOY (First Of
the Year)
Baltimore Oriole, FOY House wren, Hairy and  FOY Downy,  FOY
Red-bellied and FOY Pileated Woodpeckers, Yellow-rumped and FOY Palm Warblers,
FOY
American Redstart, FOY Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Bald Eagle, FOY Cooper’s Hawk,
Brown-headed Ccowbird,
Red-winged Blackbird, Mallard, Giant Canada Geese, Great
Blue Heron
, FOY Lesser Yellowlegs and Barn and FOY Northern Rough-winged
Swallow
. I did not see any Bank Swallows near the cliff where we got off of
Highway 110 at Shepherd Road. hopefully they will arrive soon.

At
1:30 PM that afternoon the first ever House Sparrow male arrived at the
feeder in the meadow behind our house. I’ve seen
House Sparrows about a block
away, near Inver Hills College, but never in our backyard. Evidently they do not
stray far from areas inhabited by humans.  To show that the habitat in the
backyard is more suited to rural than suburban birds, at
2:47 PM a Cooper’s Hawk
flew across the meadow behind the house.

AT 11:15AM this morning I heard a familiar sound outside, and when I looked out
the window I found that the first Red-winged Blackbird arrived at the
bird
feeder
. The hen Mallard, which sits on a nest of about 12eggs between a small
spirea bush and a downstairs window, is still sitting on her eggs. If  the eggs
are viable I suspect they should hatch soon, because she has been sitting for
about a month. Total Backyard Sightings for 2011 – 35; Total Statewide Bird
Sightings- 68.

In my Wildlife Activity Research Project (WARP) in northeast Arkansas, where I
can watch six different feeders by remote web cam, on approximately 1000 acres
of unfenced wildlife preserve, I have been watching as many as four different
Black Bears at the feeders. At least two and possibly three of these bears weigh
in excess of 350 pounds, and will probably weigh in excess of 400 pounds by
fall.  

Enjoy the Great Outdoors, and God bless,

T.R.

May is Spring Birding Month

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: April 30, 2011 - 1:12 PM

May Is Spring Birding Month


May is the month many birders look forward to. After the long winter it finally
gets warm, it rains less, it dries out, and the vast array of colorful
neotropical migrants, and the multi-colored boreal “wood warblers” are migrating
through our state. Many of them are on their way to the Canadian provinces. But,
along the way, they often stop near lakes, rivers, creeks and marshes, where
insects can be found, which many of these birds feed on.

Some of the more colorful birds include the red and black colored scarlet
tanager, the electric blue indigo bunting, and the party-colored black, white
and rose colored rose-breasted grosbeak. In the southern areas of the state
these birds may arrive as early as the first week of May. In the far northeast
corner of the state they are generally most prevalent during the last few days
of May. To view pictures, and hear the calls, of the wide variety of warblers
seen in Minnesota, GoogleTrinity Mountain Outdoors Minnesota Bird Checklist”.
You can also check out the Pines to Prairie Birding Trail website to listen to
the calls of several of these birds. 

In the ponds around Inver Hills College in Inver Grove Heights last week, we saw
great Egrets, Lesser Scaup, Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers, all in breeding
plumage. We still have a group of about 15 Dark-eyed Juncos at our feeder; and
in the last week we’ve seen or heard Eastern Bluebird, Brown Thrasher, American
Goldfinch
, Eastern Phoebee, Brown-headed Cowbird, Mourning Dove, Northern
Cardinal
, Blue Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers,
Chipping and Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbird. We still do not have
European (common) House Sparrows or House Finches here.   
 

If you go looking for wood warblers, remember that they are insect eaters; look
for them near water, especially along lake, river and creek edges and lake
shores. I’ve seen them in past years at the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge, along Black
Dog Road west from Silver Bell Road, or west from I-35W. You may see the
Pergrines near the power plant, the Ospreys nesting on the tower in the lake
near the power plant, or Bald Eagles roosted or soaring above the lake, road and
river. While you are there you can check out the Fens Unit of the MV NWR on
Cliff Road, about a mile east of I-3W, just south of the Minnesota River.

Other places to look for warblers are along the creek on the southern boundary
of Murphy- Hanrehan Park and Ritter Farm Park (just west of I 35W), both in
Lakeville, Hyland Park in Bloomington, Lebanon Hills in Eagan, Dodge Nature
Center in South St, Paul, Snail Lake (just north of I- 494 near Shoreview), and
the any of the other parks in the Metro area. If you are interested, contact me
on where to see Dickcissel, Bobolnk, Upland Sandpiper, strutting Wild turkeys,
nesting Bald Eagle, dancing Prairie Chicken, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Sandhill
Crane
, Whooping Crane and other birds by e-mailng me a TRMichels@yahoo.com.
The following information has been provided courtesy of the Minnesota
Ornithologists' Union. This report is brought to you by ExploreMinnesota.com.
Subscribe here to receive any or all of our reports by email or RSS/news feed.
The following is a list of recent, significant sightings:

On April 28, a Laughing Gull was along Park Point in Duluth. It was most
recently seen on the sandbar on the harbor side of Hearding Island, at 19th
Street South. Two White-Faced Ibis were seen on April 28th, north of Clayton
Lake in Martin County, on the north side of 50th Street, one-tenth of a mile
east of 154th Avenue.

On April 25, 18 American Avocets were spotted in a flooded field flooded near
the Vermillion River, at the north end of Prairie Island in Winona County. This
is about one-quarter of a mile east of the bridge at Dakota County Road 68 on
Goodhue County Road 18. On the same day, 33 American Avocets were noted at the
Bass Ponds in Bloomington in Hennepin County near State Highway 77. Sixteen more
were seen in the shallows of the Mississippi River near Grey Cloud Island in
Washington County.
 
A Yellow Rail was seen on the 22nd at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in
Carver County. On the 24th early female Summer Tanager was spotted along the
northwest shore of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. On April 25th, four Willets were
seen at Lake Ida. northeast of Amboy in Blue Earth County. On the 22nd, an early
Whimbrel was seen in Duluth at the Park Point ball fields. 

Other arrivals include Common Moorhen, Virginia Rail, Semipalmated Sandpiper,
Wilson's Phalarope, Forster's Tern, Caspian Tern, Cliff Swallow, House Wren,
Smith's Longspur, Spotted Towhee, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, and Le
Conte's Sparrow
.

In the ponds around Inver Hills College in Inver Grove Heights last week, we saw
great Egrets, Lesser Scaup, Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers, all in breeding
plumage. We stil hve a group of about 15 Dark-eyed Juncos at our feeder; and in
the last week we’ve seen or heard Eastern Bluebird, Brown Thrasher, American
Goldfinch, Eastern Phoebee, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Mourning Dove, Northern
Cardinal, Blue Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers,
Chipping and Song Sparrows and Red-winged Blackbirds.   

If you go looking for wood warblers, remember that they are insect eaters, so
look for them near water, especially along lake, river, creek and lake shores.
I’ve seen them in past years at the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge, along Black Dog
Road west from Silver Bell Road and west from I-35W. You may see the Pergirnes
near the power plant, or Bald Eagles roosted or soaring above the lake, road and
river. While you are there you can check out the fens Unit of the MVNWR on Clif
Road, about a mile east of I35W, just south of the Minnesota River.

Other places to look for warblers are along the creek on the southern boundary
of Murphy- Hanrehan Park and Ritter Farm Park (just west of I 35W), both in
Lakeville, Hyland Park in Bloomington, Lebanon Hills in Eagan, Dodge Nature
Center in South St, Paul, Snail Lake (just north of I-494 near Shoreview), and
the any of the other parks in the Metro area. If you are interested, contact me
on where to see Dickcissel, Bobolnk, Upland Sandpiper, strutting Wild turkeys,
nesting Bald Eagle, dancing Prairie Chicken, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Sandhill
Crane, Whooping Crane and other birds by e-mailng me a TRMichels@yahoo.com.
Remember if you see something interesting, e-mail me about it at
TRMichels@yahoo.com.

Enjoy the great Outdoors, and take family members or friends along, and be sure
to take a spotting scope, binoculars and still or video camera.

God bless,
 

T.R.
 

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