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Birds

  • I have been reading Theodore Roosevelt’s “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail.” It is an interesting read about life in the North Dakota badlands in the 1880s. In chapter three, The Home Ranch, Roosevelt describes the quiet surrounding the ranch: “There are few sounds to break the stillness. From the upper branches of the cottonwood trees overhead, whose shimmering, tremulous leaves are hardly ever quiet, but if the wind stirs at all, rustle and quiver and sigh all day long, comes every now and then the soft, melancholy cooing of the mourning dove, whose voice always seems far away and expresses more than any other sound in nature the sadness of gentle, hopeless, never-ending grief.”
  • About 50 species of shorebird migrate through North America. Of those 50 species, about 36 pass on through, while a few stick around for the summer. They all take advantage of the lakes, wetlands, and the water pooled in farm fields.
  • We often hear birds singing or calling. But many times, the birds remain hidden amongst the vegetation, so identifying the bird is difficult. But now with the help of Merlin, a free app developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we can identify those birds. In this case it is a common yellowthroat, a yellow colored warbler with a black mask that is often heard while hidden in the vegetation on the margins of wetlands.
  • Duck nests have been a topic of discussion in the Prairie Public radio department recently. Director of Radio Bill Thomas and Producer Skip Wood were surprised to learn they each had a hen mallard nesting in their yard, but the location was a bit disconcerting. Except for a small pond on the Concordia College Campus, the nearest water (the Red River) is around 10-12 blocks away. So why does a duck nest so far from water?
  • It seems like every spring we wait in eager anticipation for the migrating birds to return. Whether it is seeing the first robin, geese overhead, warblers, or watching the first hummingbird and oriole at the feeder, it is a much-anticipated event. Now, with the help of the BirdCast website, we can gain a better understating of these birds’ migrations and perhaps a better idea of when they will show up in our area.
  • Not so many years ago the sighting of a bald eagle was an uncommon to rare occurrence in North Dakota. Now, of course, these magnificent birds are much more frequently observed, even during the winter months. You may have missed it, but eagles have been the news recently, and all is not well with them.
  • Most of us are familiar with the hooting of great horned owls. But we hear them a lot more than we see them. It is amazing that they can stay so well hidden. But if you have an interest in seeing them, now might be a good time to begin looking for them in earnest. That is because they have started to nest, and the young should start hatching in about a month or so. With the deciduous trees still bare, the owls are about as observable as they get.
  • If you enjoy nature, consider getting involved with a citizen science project. You will learn more about nature and at the same time help scientists collect important information. Citizen scientists are helping monitor the water quality of lakes, rivers, and streams, monarch butterfly migrations, snowpack in the mountains, and reptile and amphibian populations and movements, to name a few.
  • One of the joys of winter is watching the birds at our bird feeders. When was the last time you sat back, relaxed, and just watched the birds at the feeder?
  • The birds are heading south! The fall migration in on. Animals basically have three ways to respond to the upcoming winter: migrate, hibernate, or stay and endure it. For the majority of our birds, heading for more suitable climates is the best option.