Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Having a Giveaway!!

A few weeks ago I received an email from someone at Harper Collins offering me a review copy of a new book by Suzie Gilbert called Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings. I replied right way asking for a copy. The book came in the mail and I dove right in. I really enjoyed this book. From early on Suzie Gilbert always had an affinity for animals, both wild ones and pets and she especially loved birds. After college her career path eventually led her to a job in an animal clinic where she found herself drawn to injured birds. That interest led to her becoming a volunteer at a rehab facility for raptors. She eventually became a licensed rehabber herself and began rehabbing birds at her country home. The stories of various birds brought to her for care are often hilarious but sometimes heart-breaking. Trying to find a balance between raising two young children and her admitted obsession with birds was very difficult for her. She told stories of carrying a basket of baby birds along with her to her children' games so she could keep up with the non-stop, every 30 minute feeding schedules. Bringing nestlings up to the age of releasability was a huge time commitment.
Several years ago I volunteered at a wildlife rehab center. My duties included syringe-feeding the baby bunnies and cleaning various cages. I became very adept at giving an injured Canada Goose her daily pills (not an easy job) and cleaning her pen. If you think geese on a golf course are messy, think of the mess one could make in a small room! I also got to use my laboratory background by doing white blood cell counts on the animals needing them. I even drew blood from ducks and rabbits. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and actually bought the materials to study to become a licensed rehabber. Life got in the way. My Dad's health became poor and I started back to work part time in a hospital laboratory. Then that rehab center closed and I didn't have the time or ambition to follow through on those plans. Reading Suzie Gilbert's book brought back lots of memories and maybe a few regrets that I had never completed that path that I had started. But her honesty in telling of the conflicts and difficulties of committing to rehabbing showed me that it really wasn't meant to be, at least for that point in my life.
Now let's get to the giveaway! Kyle Hansen from Harper Collins offered to send free copies of the book to ten people who would like one. If you're interested, reply in the comments AND send me an email with your full name and mailing address to

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lynne and Art's Excellent Adventure

Spring weather finally made it to Minnesota this weekend and Art and I couldn't wait to get up to Hasty Brook. We left early Sunday morning with temps all ready in the thirties and a forecast of mid fifties. We left the interstate at Moose Lake and took the more scenic back roads the rest of the way. It might add a few minutes to the drive but we usually see something good to make it worth while. Sunday was no exception. Driving along the county road, woods on the right and an open field to the left, we spotted a Ruffed Grouse flying low out of the woods. Art slowed assuming it would continue across to the field but it stopped right ahead in our lane. As he swerved to avoid it we saw a Northern Goshawk punch out of the woods and swoop down on the grouse! Maybe it was the nearness of our car that made it pop back up into the air without the grouse. It flew up, made a turn and headed back for another try. By now Art had made a U-turn to get a better look (sound familiar Mary?) The Goshawk lost interest with us so close and flew off to the field. I got my bins on the grouse. It didn't appear injured but was still flattened on the blacktop. A car was approaching in that lane and it slowed and swerved to avoid hitting the bird. Since it didn't seem the grouse was going to move, Art got out of the car to shoo it into the woods. The poor thing really didn't want to move, probably still watching for the Goshawk. Clapping and waving his arms the grouse stayed hunkered down. Art finally had to nudge at it with his foot. The grouse took off like a shot and disappeared into the tall grass at the edge of the woods. I've only seen a Goshawk once before. A few years ago at Hasty Brook we watched in awe as a Goshawk dashed back and forth across our yard chasing a grouse. After the unsuccessful chase the hawk perched for a while nearby so we got wonderful looks at that gorgeous raptor.I don't have a picture of a Northern Goshawk but this month's issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer has a great article about this raptor and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources's efforts to monitor their habitat and nesting sites.

We continued on our way, still shaking our heads over what we had just witnessed. Arriving at Hasty we parked at the end of the driveway, loaded up with our supplies and walked down the still snowy road to our campsite. The feeders were mostly empty but there was still quite a bit of seed on the ground. There was a gang of Black-capped Chickadees that never even paused in their feeding as we walked up. They flew about the empty feeders, scolding and chattering fearlessly as I filled them. We were immediately "greeted" by a pair of red squirrels. These cheeky little squirrels were NOT happy that we were near what they thought was their bounty. Pint-sized attitude.
The next birds to arrive to the full feeders were the Red-breasted Nuthatches. I counted seven of them at one time on and around the feeders. There was lots of "yank-yanking" and chasing about going on. By now I had set up a camp chair to watch and take pictures but I had to move because it seemed I was sitting in their favorite flight path. They would grab an oiler and fly off to eat or cache the seed. After ducking my head a few times at their approach I decided it would be wiser to move. They look just like a pointed dart flying straight at your face!
There were still plenty of Common Redpolls moving about. While out hiking I saw and heard several flocks flying overhead.

They swarmed the thistle feeders as soon as they were filled but there were at times at least 100 of them feeding on the ground. They seemed to especially like the oilers that were being uncovered as the snow melted. I wonder if the shells might have been softened, making them easier to open.

I heard the Redpolls singing more on Sunday and the males were definitely showing more of the beautiful raspberry color on their throats and chests.

I'm really going to miss the Redpolls when they leave for their northern breeding grounds. I'm not sure if it was just from the sun, but their caps seemed a bit iridescent.

It was a terrific day of birding. Here's the trip list:

Common Redpoll

Pine Siskin

Black-capped Chickadee

White-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Common Raven

American Crow

Blue Jay

Canada Goose

Bald Eagle

Northern Goshawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Northern Harrier

Rough-legged Hawk *

The Rough-legged Hawk floated on the thermals overhead at Hasty for quite a while. This was the first time I'd spotted one on my own- and it's new to my Hasty Brook yard list!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Turtles Part Two

Did you figure out how to feed them?

I added this little turtle gadget to my iGoogle RSS feed page. You can feed the turtles by clicking within the field. Each click adds a piece of food. You can also grab the turtles and spin them but I feel like I'm tormenting them if I do that. I have actually found myself thinking about getting back to feed them. Kind of sick isn't it? Do I need help?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday, Laughing!

After he chewed through ANOTHER feeder this squirrel fell off and was buried in the snow.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's Raining

We're having a nice soaking rain right now, as I listen to the Robins sing their summer morning/dusk song, and I just heard my first Mourning Dove of the year. The rain is expected to start freezing this morning turning to 3-6 inches of the white $%&@ throughout the day. We're under a winter storm advisory until tomorrow morning. Laundry is my job today and I plan to bag up more stuff to drop off at the local ARC store. Time to crank up the Bose, put on another pot of coffee and get to work!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Boreal Chickadee in Sax-Zim

One bird that Deb an I REALLY wanted to see was the Boreal Chickadee. Last year at the festival I heard them and caught a quick glimpse but I wanted a good look to make it a lifer. Well, this year was the charm. Several times during Saturday's field trip we were told that the chances of a Boreal Chickadee were a sure thing. No Boreals. Finally at the last feeding station stop on Admiral Road, just a few moments after the trip leaders said it was time to move on, someone called out "Boreal Chickadee coming in." In he flew! It zoomed in and flew right into the deer rib-cage. I got many pictures of the chickadee butt barely sticking out of the bottom of the ribs. At one point it flew to a branch just a couple of feet from me. It was too close for my lens so all I could do was watch it with a happy grin!

Note: I just finished entering my bird observations into E-bird and this Boreal Chickadee was my 200th life bird!!
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

More Eagles

The focus isn't terrific but this is the best of my pictures of Donald the Golden Eagle. I mentioned yesterday the surprising difference in the talon size between Golden and Bald Eagles. I remembered today a bit of information about their talons. Bald Eagles take food from a primarily aquatic environment. Their talons do well with fish which make up the majority of their diets. Golden Eagles hunt away from the water taking land animals and they require longer talons to safely take their prey. I learned that the primary food source for the Goldens that over winter in south-eastern Minnesota is Wild Turkeys.
I would be thrilled to see a Golden Eagle in the wild. Some day...

I think this is Angel. This eagle was very animated and was watching the eagles flying over the Mississippi River with great focus.

This eagle was very quiet and held itself in a very upright posture.

Here Columbia is being fed some tasty rabbit.
We did see quite a few eagles along the highway between Redwing and Wabasha. There were quite a few immature birds feeding on fish along the edge of the ice on the river.
Finally we spotted a beautiful mature Bald Eagle sitting in a tree top alongside the road. We pulled over and I raised my camera slowly to get a picture...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Road Trip!

It could not have been a nicer day for a road trip. This morning three friends picked me up, we turned on the Garmin and headed off for Wabasha, Minnesota and the National Eagle Center. Art and I had been there a few years ago when the Center was located in an old storefront but now they are in a beautiful new building right on the Mississippi River. We were greeted at the door by an super friendly employee with a great smile and endless tips and information about the Center and their eagles. She even walked us out of the building to direct us to a terrific Irish pub for lunch! I had a bowl of Irish stew and nearly licked the bowl clean.
Back to the Eagle Center. My first stop was a large airy room with big windows overlooking the river. The Center's eagles greeted the public here. I was thrilled to see the Golden Eagle. I had never seen a Golden Eagle before and he was gorgeous. We learned that during the Golden Eagle survey of the area surrounding Wabasha this winter there were 70+ Golden Eagles counted. They are not year around residents of Minnesota, but migrate down here for the winter. They are trying to capture two Goldens so they can attach radios to find out where they spend the rest of the year. Goldens are a bit smaller than Bald Eagles but their talons are nearly twice as long. We enjoyed a fabulous hour long program featuring one of the Center's eagles (Columbia I think.) I spent a fair amount of time (and $) in the gift shop helping to support the Center. I got two very cool shirts to take with me to the blogger Flock rendezvous at the
New River Birdng and Nature Festival at the end of April. It's fast approaching!
I'm incredibly tired tonight so if this post is a bit rambly or disjointed, I apologize.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Cutest Bird in the Bog

This post is going to be short on words, but big on cuteness! I've been to the Bog a few times and have never been able to find a Gray Jay but this year I saw them.

There is something very engaging about Gray Jays. They have big eyes and soft coloring.

Gray Jays are notoriously fearless around people, looking for tasty hand-outs and I've heard that with a little patience they can be hand fed.

They chatter with happy, cheerful voices

They really seem to enjoy being around people and I was grinning ear to ear watching them forage and call and fly about.
I am so happy to add these amazing birds to my life list.