Waves of robins return days after snow blankets area
As it turns out, bluebirds returned to the area last month. Dawn and Roger Kast saw their first bluebird of the season March 31 south of Highway 34, near Nevis.
Two days later, Dallas Hudson saw bluebirds near Shingobee Lake.
Last Friday, April 4, I saw my first bluebird of the season. First the bluebird sat in a tall spruce at the edge of the meadow and then he flew to the "No Hunting" sign my neighbor posted.
For some reason, bluebirds like to sit on that sign. I think it gives them a good view of the meadow.
The whole thing was so exciting I immediately went out and cleaned the last of my bluebird houses. I found one more bluebird nest, one more tree swallow nest and one empty house. That brings the grand nest total for last season to two bluebird nests, two tree swallow nests, one house wren nest and one vacancy.
As I was cleaning those nest boxes in the sunshine, I was sure we were cruising right into spring. I thought to myself, "Soon it will be frog season."
Then we got two feet of snow in the weekend storm. Ooh la la.
I have no idea when we will start to hear frogs now. Stan from Becida said he heard frogs before the storm on the evening of April 4, but I imagine they went silent pretty quickly.
Before the snow hit, people were spotting some real signs of spring.
n Thursday, April 3: Alan Olander saw a kingfisher near Akeley. John and Marlene Weber saw Compton's tortoiseshell and mourning cloak butterflies - the first of the season - near Spider Lake.
n Friday, April 4: Stan from Becida saw a tree swallow checking out a birdhouse and heard a killdeer and red-winged blackbird. Marilyn Peterson saw a mourning cloak butterfly at Portage Lake. John and Marlene Weber observed a grackle at their feeder.
n Saturday, April 5: John and Marlene saw a male cardinal at the feeder.
Many people reported large flocks of birds at their feeders during the storm.
n Larry and Renee Bexell watched the "bird feeding frenzy" outside their windows on Little Sand Lake. They saw a partially leucistic common redpoll among normal common redpolls. When I first saw the photo they took, I thought the bird might be a hoary redpoll, but even hoary redpolls have bars on their wings, and the Bexell's redpoll doesn't display any striping.
n John and Marlene Weber counted about 500 juncos, goldfinches, common redpolls, pine siskins and song sparrows at their feeders.
n Susan Carol Hauser, my colleague at Bemidji State University, said she had to fill her feeders repeatedly during the storm. She lives in Puposky.
n Tony Yerkes of Little Sand Lake had a different kind of problem with his birdfeeders and birdhouses: The wind drove them full of snow during the storm.
The morning of April 7, my husband and I saw a turkey vulture above our driveway as we were shoveling. Unbelievably, I saw my first mosquito of the season early Monday evening, April 7.
n Stan from Becida heard mourning doves April 7 and saw three of them April 8. He also said one of the goldfinches he saw April 8 was "really getting yellow."
n Early April 9, I heard lots of grackles in the trees in Bemidji. I also spotted my first robin of the season that morning. By the evening of April 9, I was seeing waves of robins as I drove around the west side of Lake Bemidji. Red breasts everywhere, flying here, flying there. I'm betting the same thing occurred in Hubbard and Becker counties.
As I write this column, they are predicting another storm for the area, but it should be all over by the time you read this sentence. I'm still hoping by the time I write next week's report, I'll be able to report on the singing of wood and chorus frogs.
Thanks to all who wrote with news. When sending your reports, be sure to give your name and a little information on where you made your sighting. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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