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An open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond

Juvenile kittiwakes visiting here are vagabonds

Minnesota occasionally sees Black-legged Kittiwakes as visitors. They show up along the Lake Superior shore or on the Mississippi or Minnesota rivers in the metro area. As far as I know, all sightings have been of juvenile birds, like the one in the photo. Why is that? Perhaps because for the first two to four years of their lives these birds wander. They leave the nesting grounds of their parents to travel before recruitment into the breeding population. Adult birds apparently stay within their usual range. This information comes from an excellent book by British ornithologist Michael Brooke. The book is "Far from Land: The Mysterious Lives of Seabirds. It will be published in March by Princeton University Press. The kittiwake in the photo was found several years ago on the Minnesota River at Blackdog.

Red-tailed Hawks not always this cooperative


Tamron lens have ups and downs. The first I owned could not produce sharp focus. This one, recommended by a friend at National Camera Exchange, is always on the money. It's not a fast lens, f5.6. And it's slow to refocus, slow compared with the Nikon lenses I own. But it is 150-600mm with focus stabilization for $1,000. For a lot more money I would not have to be as patient on refocus (we are talking about only a second or two), and I could shoot at a lower ISO. All things considered, this lens is just fine. The bird, afternoon sun giving it a golden glow, nested near Holy Name lake in Medina. It often sits on this perch, 50 feet off a roadway. I think it's become accustomed to vehicles. 

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