Birding by car
For birders with mobility issues, Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area at Grantsburg, Wis., offers excellent bird-watching from your car. Forty miles of well maintained roads crisscross 30,000 acres of brush prairie, wetlands and woods. There is a visitor center (currently subject to COVID management) with maps and bird list, picnic ground with toilets, trails and off-road parking areas, all 100 miles from the Twin Cities (Interstate 35 north to Hwy. 70, 15 miles east to Grantsburg). The refuge is immediately north of town.
Nice beginning: From the visitor center take County Road D east to Phantom Lake Road, left into the refuge. Guaranteed: trumpeter swans, sandhill cranes, various ducks, Canada geese, common loons, pied-billed grebes. Possible: American bittern, red-necked grebe. Best in mid-May after songbird migration. Also excellent for wildflowers in season. Grantsburg is a full-service town.
Your bird feeders could use cleaning
Salmonella poisoning can sicken or kill birds. They can become infected at bird feeders meant to be helpful, but soiled with seed residue and gunk. Dirty feeders can become infected with salmonella. The easy solution to the possible problem is to now and then clean the feeders. Put them in the laundry tub and scrub them inside and out with soap and hot water. Scrub feeders permanently mounted in place using a bucket and brush. Let feeders dry before refilling. Spring is a good time to do this. Ask yourself, would I eat from that?
Pollination is critical to all plant life. That puts us in the same position. Nature has crafted many ways for pollinators and plants to dance together. Nature also has made many pollinators vulnerable to our tone-deaf regard for that dance.
The book "Pollination: The Enduring Relationship Between Plant and Pollinator," explores this with text and photos. Insects do most of the heavy lifting for pollination, but some bird species and a few mammals are involved. All are threatened with steep decline or in decline already because we either don't understand or don't care.
The book, by plant scientist Timothy Walker, published by Princeton Press with clear text and beautiful photos, makes all of this evident. This is a book for gardeners and birders and anyone worried about the direction of the planet.
Princeton University Press, 2020, hardcover, indexed, 221 pages, $29.95.
Bird glass safety
The battle for use of bird-safe glass in U.S. Bank stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, is ongoing. However, perhaps because of the stadium row or because bird-safe glass has gained legs in the building design and construction world, Minneapolis is making progress.
The new Bakken Museum has bird-safe glass. The same architecture firm (RSP) plans to include such glass in its work on a restoration project at the University of Minnesota. Allianz Field, that design wonder home to our professional soccer team, has such glass. A local college is considering a funding request to retrofit windows it considers dangerous.
If the windows through which you view your bird feeders draw collisions and kill or injure birds, join the growing parade. A bird store near you has window solutions. Our solution is strips of white cotton cloth held on patio doors with blue masking tape. The cloth moves with the wind. Very effective if not award-eligible.