Related to jays and crows, the Clark's nutcracker is named after the explorer William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, who first recorded observing the interesting mountain bird in the year of 1805.
For the past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time at my parents' home in Eagle Bend, which is a small town about 50 miles south of Park Rapids along U.S. Highway 71. Intent on keeping their bird feeding station chock-full of seed, and then some, I've taken it upon myself to purchase a tube-style feeder to hang on their double-hooked cast iron shepherd's hook, so now the affair has two feeders—the tube feeder and a hanging fly-through style feeder.
Blue jays! Of all our year 'round avian residents, few are as brilliantly plumaged as blue jays. Indeed, for our color-starved eyes throughout the long and bleak wintertime, the blue jay's color scheme is a welcome contrast to the mostly drab-colored landscape of winter.
It's cold out. Winter's icy grip on the northland, full on, isn't showing signs of release anytime soon. Cracking trees deep in the forest, popping like rifle shots in the still-night air, along with the sounds of groaning and expanding ice across all of the north country's lakes, are reminders to we mortal humans that furnaces and fireplaces must not fail, and that resident fish and wildlife must call upon stored reserves and a host of other mechanisms in order to survive.
How would you like to be part of a contingent of birders involved in the largest worldwide bird count ever? You can be one of more than 160,000 participants to submit your bird observations online, which helps to create the largest instant snapshot of global bird populations ever recorded.
Can there be a hint of spring in the dead of winter? Just a few days ago I was delighted to hear that very hint. Indeed, it came from none other than one of our most friendly and docile Minnesota resident, year 'round wild bird—the black-capped chickadee. "Fee-bee! Fee-bee! Fee-bee!" Despite the subzero temperature of a January morning while I filled the feeder with fresh black-oil sunflower seeds, a lone chickadee belted out its telltale whistle for all the world to hear and appreciate.
Thus far this past late fall and early winter, my backyard bird feeding station has attracted the usual assortment of wild birds. Aside from a small band of pine grosbeaks that showed up for a few days, I have yet to see any large influxes of other wintertime birds that often occur each year. Common redpolls are one such bird that we associate with these "irruptions," or, put another way, the sudden uptick of a species' abundance, which generally means that environmental conditions aren't suitable where "irruptive" species typically inhabit at any given time and place.
Now that the big snow has come and gone, colder temperatures will undoubtedly follow. It's during times like these, when the thermometer plunges to well below zero in the dead of night when the forests and fields are covered in darkness, that I wonder, "How do birds survive?!"
In early December, an individual mountain lion made the news throughout Minnesota and the region. The cat was allegedly struck and killed by a vehicle on a road not far from the small town of Nimrod, a quaint village nestled alongside the beautiful Crow Wing River in Wadena County.
One of Minnesota's most recognizable owls is the great horned owl. Its size alone sets it apart from most other owls, but so do those little feather tufts on top of the species' head, sometimes mistakenly believed to be "ears." Known to prey on animals as large as foxes, great horned owls are impressive birds.