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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…

Bird Parenting Roles

May and June are months when we celebrate our own Mothers and Fathers, so it got us thinking about the bird “moms” and “dads” of the backyard, and how they allocate their parenting roles. We discovered some interesting facts . . . take a look!

Thrush or Thrasher?

Thrush or Thrasher?

Similar names, different families With their beautiful songs, alliterate names and often remarkable resemblances, it’s easy to confuse thrushes and thrashers. Both are Passerine—perching—songbirds, but their family tree splits into unique branches. Thrushes are part of the Turdidae Family Turdids found in Minnesota include: American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Veerys, and Swainson’s, Hermit and Wood Thrushes. All are known for their…

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Winter’s Raptors

During the winter, when the leaves are off the trees, is a great time to spot hawks. With shorter daytime hours, the hawks are especially busy hunting for their next meal. Here are a few hawks you may see in our area over the winter. Rough-legged Hawk These beautiful hawks visit us during the winter from the Arctic. These hawks…

Some birds that stay the winter tend to congregate in larger flocks.

How Birds Adapt to Winter Weather

While we simply get out our heavy coats, hats, gloves and boots for the winter, our backyard birds go through some amazing changes to make it through the cold and snow. Behavioral Changes We can all notice some of the behavioral changes birds make during the winter months. Some birds migrate. The other birds that stay tend to congregate in…

Silhouette of bird walking on roof

Bird Feet

Pause to consider the functions required of various birds’ feet: perching, clinging, walking, swimming, preening, carrying objects, egg rolling, mating displays, and even heat loss regulation.

Bird at different life stages

Birds’ Life Stages Defined

  GLOSSARY OF BIRDS’ LIFE STAGES Throughout our website and newsletters, you'll likely see us refer to birds' life stages by name. We thought it'd be a good idea to give a short review in case any of the terms are unfamiliar. Examples of life stages in a finch, thrush, robin, chickadee and robin HATCHLING. A bird just out of…
Warblers Cover

Minnesota’s Warblers

  Up to 20 different species of warblers pass through the Twin Cities area between mid-April and the end of May, with the bulk passing through between the 5th and 15th of May. If you’d like to catch a sighting or two of these colorful migrants—in your backyard or around town—Minnesota birding expert Bob Janssen has helped us to prepare…