Bird Watching in SW MN

The orioles are back! Horray!

Growing up on Orcas Island in Washington State, we did not have orioles. We had many of the same birds we have here in Southwest Minnesota: Gold Finches, robins, Barn Swallows, crows, chickadees, flickers, Red-Winged Blackbirds, seagulls (though different gulls than we have here on the prairie), and plenty of Bald Eagles, but not orioles. We had other birds too, of course, but those ones were the most common. Or, at least, those ones are the ones I can remember!

Both male and female orioles.

When I first moved to northwestern Wisconsin – just east of Duluth – I fell in love with the orioles. I’d sit in my bedroom with the window open in the evenings and listen to their marvelous singing. I also fell in love with Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks and renewed my love for Cedar Waxwings, a bird I’d first met in my college ornithology class – one of my favorite college classes, incidentally.

Then when we moved out to the country down here in SW Minnesota, I was able to continue my infatuation with orioles…a thing which made me very happy indeed…at least for a few months out of the year!

Last year we had at least 5 pairs of orioles at our grape-jelly-filled pie pan. This year I’m not sure we have that many, but I have also seen some Orchard Orioles, which always makes me happy!

The robins come to the jelly too, the rascals. The smaller bird is an Orchard Oriole.

I see the waxwings here too – though not at the jelly – but not very often especially since we had to trim off the dead branches that were too near the house but that they loved to sit on. And as for the grosbeaks, for some reason they don’t like me very much. I’ve seen cardinals, but only just passing through. Last year I had a small flock of Eastern Bluebirds for a few days and yesterday I am virtually positive that I saw a gorgeous Indigo Bunting on the deck.

What a rare find! And he even stayed long enough for exactly one picture!

Last fall – several times – I saw an albino Junco – that was SO COOL.

Sadly, I never got a picture, as it never stayed longer than a few seconds, mores the pity.

Since being in the country I have also become a huge fan of the Brown Thrasher. What a silly name for such a wonderful bird. I videotaped one singing once. Marvelous.

Isn't he gorgeous?

One of my favorite warm-weather activities is to sit out on the deck (okay, “activity” is a relative term) with a good book and a cup of coffee and the birds. However, they don’t always appreciate my presence, as evidenced by the following monologue:

FUSS FUSSSSS FUSS FUSS FUSS. Fuss. Fuss. Eat. Swallow. Fuss. Eat. Swallow. Eat. Swallow. FUSS. Fly AWAY…then come back and do it again.

Song birds: God’s gift to an all-too-often unhappy world.

8 thoughts on “Bird Watching in SW MN

  1. I’ll admit that I don’t particularly care for any bird that gets too close to me given I had too many barn encounters with swooping barn swallows and a mean rooster. But even I can appreciate their beauty.

    Keith Radel, a man known as Mr. Bluebird, lives here in Faribault. He actively establishes bluebird houses and educates others about bluebirds. And he just so happens to be from my hometown of Vesta.

    • The local 4-H group, I believe it was, put up a bunch of bluebird houses near us a couple years ago. Perhaps that’s why I saw this one? I can’t imagine enjoying being dive-bombed by a barn swallow, that’s for sure!

  2. Thanks all! I do really enjoy senieg these birds. Very inquisitive, and quite brave. Almost every one I have encountered will take peanuts from your had (and will steal your lunch if you aren’t looking!)For those of you in the New England area (or willing to travel), I am considering trying to organize a trip to the White Mountains for Birders Who Blog Tweet & Chirp, where we would very likely encounter them. I’ll let you know…

  3. July 14, 2012

    An albino swallow was observed this evening about 6:30 pm flying low over the Minnesota River at the Highway 41 bridge in Chaska, Minnesota. This is a new sighting and likely the swallow is recently fledged. Both back and belly are white.

    • That’s so neat! Thanks for letting me know. I really, really wish I could have gotten a photograph of this guy I saw…but no such luck. I have some hawk photos to post this next week…I hope you’ll see them!

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