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Jim Williams

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Recent content from Jim Williams
Mourning dove on the edge of the planter.

Mourning doves return to their unusual nesting perch

The fact that the birds nested in a pot on a balcony on a busy street seemed uncommon last year, but apparently it worked well enough that the doves came back.
The Swainson's thrush, an "avoider" species, is undergoing more "divorces" due to urban development. MUST CREDIT: John Marzluff - University of Washin

Comment period open on birding name changes

The American Ornithological Society plans to change the names for all birds named after people.
This photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a blacklegged tick, also known as a deer tick. Another mild winter an

Birders, beware: If you venture off road, be prepared to monitor for ticks

Prime birding territory is often prime tick territory, as well. Be vigilant and watch for any illness symptoms.
American avocets glide through shallow waters to catch invertebrates. Their coloring varies between summer and winter.

Hitch a ride on a birding road trip from Minnesota to Texas

You can map out your trip to maximize the bird sightings you're after, but nature — and hotels — will throw you a few curves.
A female osprey (note the “necklace) prepares her stick nest on a nesting platform. credit: Jim Williams

Four little books on nature and a show about an osprey family

Learn about spiders, butterflies, beetles and trees in four new books, and follow an osprey family in a TV show.
The great crested flycatcher can be found in Minnesota where it is a regular summer resident and migrant.

New book helps you know your flycatchers

Three of Minnesota's common flycatchers are in the field guide.

That's no eagle: Turkey vultures are the other large birds soaring above

They tilt or rock their 6-foot wingspan as they fly with their wings in a V pattern.
Photos by Jim Williams
2. An Eastern bluebird heads to his nest with one of hundreds of daily insect meals.

Even common birds like the bluebird are full of mysteries

Despite conveniently nesting in manmade nest boxes, there are still lots of areas to study for Eastern bluebirds.
Barred owl

Catch owls on the nest via webcams

You don't have to leave your nest to watch owls on theirs.
This bird was once known as McCown's longspur, but now is designated as a thick-billed longspur.

What's in a name? For birds, often nothing helpful

The American Ornithological Society decided to excise all names of people from birds and replace them with something more descriptive.
Bird feathers left by window collision.

To prevent bird window strikes, think outside the window

Decals or other deterrents need to be placed outside the window to be effective, research has found.
A pair of Eastern bluebirds perch close to each other on a nestbox.

Keep your eye on the skies: Bird migration begins in three weeks

Survey finds millions enjoy watching wildlife, and spring migration is a good time to watch.

Cardinals stick around, and stand out, in Minnesota winter

Cardinals don't migrate or lose their bright feathers, and gather together in loose flocks during winter.

Sexism creeps into birding, from guide books to studies

Quiet cemeteries make for lively bird watching and a great fall road trip

Check out Lakewood in Minneapolis and others on our statewide list of places to start in Minnesota.

Want to see egrets and herons? Find yourself a pond

Cooper's hawks provide population control

A second brood gives short-lived house wrens a greater shot at survival

Backyard nest boxes give you a front-row seat on birds raising their young

Warblers, the stars of spring bird migration, come in waves. Here's what to expect, and when

What bird is blue-gray, wears a belt and nests in a burrow?

Bald eagles gather in a tree at Colvill Park in Red Wing, Minn., where you’ve got a decent chance of seeing birds without leaving the parking lot.

Parking lots make surprisingly good birding spots that are easily accessible

Birding from parking lots is the subject of a book, one of several new nature-themed books available just in time for spring.

Eagles keep a tight grip on prey

Goldfinches brighten our feeders in winter

Four species share these feeders — cardinal, pine siskin, house finch and goldfinch.

Birds can add brightness to your day

Focusing on birds helps put things in perspective.

Red-bellied woodpeckers range from Twin Cities urban yards to Boundary Waters

Red-bellied woodpecker with seed. Jim Williams photo

Red-bellied woodpeckers range from Twin Cities urban yards to Boundary Waters

Their namesake red belly can be hard to see.
Minnesota Ornithologists' Union birding planner available for 2023

Minnesota Ornithologists' Union birding planner available for 2023

Profits help the MOU fund bird conservation and study.
Bird-watchers from around the world come to Minnesota’s Sax-Zim Bog to see species like great gray owls.

Groundbreaking Minnesota birding book gets renewed look

The fifth edition of Kim Eckert's influential "A Birder's Guide to Minnesota" will be in stores soon.
This preserved passenger pigeon, held by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is shown Thursday, Sept. 4, 2003, in Knoxville, Tenn., during the un

Passenger pigeon extinction was fast-tracked

The birds, which once numbered in the billions, nested in Minnesota.
Sharp-tailed grouse, male. Jim Williams photo

Game bird conservation helps all bird habitat

While many bird species are declining, many waterfowl populations are healthy thanks to conservation efforts by hunting groups.

Game bird conservation helps all bird habitat

Will we see more finches this winter? The forecast is mixed

Pair of common redpolls. Jim Williams photo

Will we see more finches this winter? The forecast is mixed

Annual predictions of whether these birds will push south into Minnesota are based on Canadian crop availability.
A Kirtland’s warbler perches on a branch in the jack pine forests of northern Michigan The warbler was on the brink of extinction 30 years ago.

Habitat change sometimes plays favorites among birds

The Kirtland's warbler came off the endangered list after cowbirds moved on to riper pastures.
Female great crested flycatcher brings nesting materials.

Now's the time to make a clean sweep of nesting boxes ahead of next year

Pro tip: Leave the box open during the winter.
Feeding on geranium blossoms.Ruby-throated hummingbird photo by Jim Williams

Hummingbird feeders don't have to be red

Placement and quality of nectar are the most important factors in attracting the tiny birds.
Chipping sparrow feeds a cowbird. Photo by Jim Williams

Nature's sneaky obligate brood parasites: Cowbirds lay eggs and run

The species associated with animal herds doesn't stick around to raise its young.

Nature's sneaky obligate brood parasites: Cowbirds lay eggs and run

A barred owl.

Thursday is Owl Awareness Day

broad-winged hawk carryiing a frog. Photo by Jim Williams

Up-close and too personal with a hawk family

Broad-winged hawks fiercely defend their nest area, as one Shoreview couple found out.

Great blue herons have an ancient air — and stinky nests

Great blue heron. Jim Williams photo

Great blue herons have an ancient air — and stinky nests

These stately birds are best enjoyed from a distance.
Female and male house sparrows. Jim Williams photo

House sparrows live where we do

These nonnatives spur mixed emotions among birders, but they're interesting birds.

House sparrows live where we do

Gray jays are among the birds that eat fungus.

Birds play a bit role in a bunch of books

Birds figure in books about fungus, spiders, prairies and more.
Female great crested flycatcher brings nesting materials. Photo by Jim Williams

Great crested flycatchers loudly proclaim their presence in Minnesota

This species is easy to identify by its unmusical call.
Young birds can be very active in and around their nest home. They stand on nearby branches, they hop, they fall. If you are a great horned owl chick,

Did you find a baby bird or bunny in your yard? Here's what you can do to help

Hint: The best answer may be nothing, unless it's obviously injured.
Black-capped chickadee

Want more birds in your yard? Choose native plants

Native plants attract the bugs that birds want to eat.
Eastern bluebird. Photo by Jim Williams

DNA evidence helps trace the history of a bird species

Birds may not live long, but their species have.
Massive flocks of red-winged blackbirds form black clouds on the horizon when they migrate in spring. They are among the early wave of arrivers in Mar

Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at Eastman Nature Center

A flock of geese at sunset.

Get bird migration information in real time

Site lets you know if tomorrow morning will be a great time to watch for migrating birds in your area.
Note the dark spot near the end of the falcon's bill. It marks a tooth-like projection that fits into a corresponding notch in the lower half of the b

Chew on this: Birds have an inactive gene for teeth

Beaks adapted for a specific purpose replaced the teeth found in their reptilian relatives.
Tree swallow fighting. Jim Williams photo

Birds pair off and get down to breeding business

Egg laying is closer to clockwork for many species.

Birds pair off and get down to breeding business

Blue jays are among the bird species infected with avian flu. As of the end of March, other species, nationwide, included American crow, bald eagle, r

Raptor Center recommends taking down bird feeders because of bird flu

Guidance on backyard bird feeders from the Raptor Center has evolved; DNR stays pat so far.
A pair of bald eagles sit on a nest.

Raptors are taking major hit from bird flu

The virus is wiping out entire families of bald eagles and great horned owls.
Blue jays are among the bird species infected with avian flu. As of the end of March, other species, nationwide, are, as well, including American crow

Should you be concerned about avian flu at your bird feeders?

It's OK to leave up the feeders. Right now in Minnesota avian flu is not a major concern outside of poultry farms.
Fox sparrow feeding from protection of a brush pile. Jim Williams photo

How birds safely forage at feeders

Birds factor in shade, sun and cover from predators when visiting our feeders.
A curious monk parakeet peers into a window of a home in Surfside, Fla., Sept. 13, 2003. Florida Power & Light Co., the state's largest utility, h

Parrots aren't natural Minnesota residents, and maybe we're OK with that

Cage escapees have naturalized in warmer climes.
Eastman Nature Center at Elm Creek Park Reserve has windows canted forward to prevent bird strikes, so the bird see a reflection of the ground rather

Minnesota park preserves offer great birding opportunities — indoors and out

Feeders viewed through large windows can be found at nature centers.
Golden-winged warbler. Jim Williams photo

Golden-winged warblers on 'near-threatened' conservation list

North central Minnesota is the best place to see these birds — for now at least.
An American redpoll one of its several daily meals. Jim Williams photos

Studies show how often birds eat

While foraging habits vary by species, it's clear birds eat frequently.
Author Julia Zarankin birding in Canada.

Review: Book tells the story of an accidental birder

Author reluctantly embraces birding as a hobby.
American white pelicans. Photo by Jim Williams

Pelicans use that big pouch to catch fish

You can find these striking white birds on Minnesota lakes.

Recordings show an unexpected number of barn owls in Minnesota

The barn owl family found in LaCrosse, Wis., in October.Photo by Karla Bloem, one-time use only with column

Recordings show an unexpected number of barn owls in Minnesota

Security camera captured the distinctive — and creepy — cry of wild barn owls.

Birds need water in winter. Here's how to help them get it

Birds do get some water from the food they ingest, but they make great use of a bird bath as well — just not for bathing.
Three Rivers Park District will celebrate a Big Year of Birds

Three Rivers Park District will celebrate a Big Year of Birds

A migratory bird festival and a Big Sit are among many events on tap.
These two orphaned kingfishers were admitted to the Wildlife Rehab Center in a previous year.

2021 was one of the biggest years ever for wildlife rehab in Minnesota

COVID has a silver lining for animals in need of rescue.

Bird toes are shaped to put their best foot forward

Coot toes have lopes that flare on the back stroke, helping propel the bird.

Bird toes are shaped to put their best foot forward

They grip slippery fish, keep shorebirds from sinking and propel loons across water.
Robin's nest.

Looking for a gift for a birder? Here are a bevy of birding books

Books help you learn how to ID nests, take great photos of birds and help teach kids bird songs.
Kestrel numbers are dropping

Kestrel numbers are dropping

The smallest of the falcon family is common throughout Minnesota.

Kestrel numbers are dropping