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Trumpeter-vs-Tundra-Web

Trumpeter Swan or Tundra Swan?

They swim gracefully (or feed ungracefully) in the water. They fly gracefully, in small to large V-formations. They honk or whistle. They are definitely swans, with their long necks and stout bodies. But of the two types of swans seen locally, either Trumpeter Swan or Tundra Swan, which is which? If each type of swan is side-by-side, distinguishing them is…

Precocial or altricial? Describing hatchlings' degree of development

Altricial vs. Precocial Bird Young

By Guest Contributor MELISSA BLOCK Have you ever noticed that newly hatched birds all look different? For example, baby cardinals are born helpless, bald, eyes closed and heads bobbing. In contrast, Wood Duck babies—which look like miniature versions of their parents— jump from their nest box after just 24 hours. Ornithologists classify birds as either altricial or precocial  to describe…

Eastern Bluebird young and adult at feeder

Interview with Bluebird Recovery Project County Coordinator George Brown

Last month, I had an opportunity to interview George Brown, the Ramsey and Washington counties coordinator for the Bluebird Recovery Project. I’ve been aware of the work that Brown has down in coordination with the White Bear Lake All Seasons Wild Bird Store location—setting up their successful bluebird nest boxes and hosting in-store bluebird seminars. I’ve also seen the incredible…

Great horned owl

Where to find Minnesota’s Owls

In this quick video, you’ll discover where and when you can find Minnesota’s 12 owl species. Some, like the Barred Owl or Great Horned Owl, are permanent residents and can be found throughout the state. Others, like the Burrowing Owl or Snowy Owl, are only found in isolated locations at certain times of the year. For more information about where…

Great Horned Owl looking right

Minnesota’s Owls

Minnesota Hosts 12 Species of Owls By Minnetonka Manager CAROL CHENAULT Twelve species of owls can be found somewhere in Minnesota but not throughout the whole state. These are the Barn, Barred, Boreal, Burrowing, Eastern Screech, Great Gray, Great Horned, Long-eared, Northern Hawk, Northern Saw-whet, Short-eared and Snowy Owl.   Not all owls are strictly nocturnal. Owls can see perfectly…

The State of Irruption (so far)

Report by guest contributor MELISSA BLOCK (Minnetonka, Minnesota) This has been a crazy winter irruption this year—for some locales. It was predicted that we would not get a big influx of Pine Siskins this year, but we did, only early in the season. Most of them have now moved farther south. I know I was excited when I saw some…

a crookedness of crossbills

Specialty Flock Names

When is a flock of birds not really a flock? Not every group of birds is automatically called a flock. The two characteristics that constitute a flock are numbers and species. Two or three birds are generally not thought of as a flock, but there’s no set number of birds that is needed to call it a flock. For birds…

Blue Jay spreading its wings

Rhapsodies in Blue: Blue Jays

The Blue Jay is one of our loudest and most colorful backyard songbirds. The mighty jay is fearless, great at mimicking and an outstanding survivalist known for intelligence, complex social systems and tight family bonds. Here are some insights into the life and habits of this gregarious species. That Amazing Color and a Fantastic “Mohawk” This large-crested bird has various…

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Five Common MN Woodpeckers

The Downy Woodpecker, at about 7”, is the smaller version of the Hairy Woodpecker (I always remember that it’s “downsized”). The males have a small red patch on their back of their heads, females do not. These woodpeckers remain with us all winter and are frequent visitors to our suet and sunflower feeders. Their main diet, however, is insects. Downies…

Migration Preparations

When we get ready for a trip, we pack a suitcase. When birds prepare for their migration trip, they pack on the fat! Birds migrate to find the most abundant food sources. As the length of daylight changes, the birds prepare with a few physical adaptations. Their hormone levels change now that their breeding season is over, and their sexual…

The Mystery of Molting: Video

Birds spend a great deal of time caring for their feathers because their lives really do depend on them. A bird’s feathers keep them warm and dry, camouflage them from predators, attract mates during breeding  season and, most importantly, give them flight. Here’s a video based on guest contributor Melissa Block’s article in the September/October 2013 edition of our Bird’s-Eye View newsletter. Here, she explains…