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Yellow-rumped warblers, flickers, phoebes fly back

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Robins are waking me up these days, but I'm not grumpy about it.

Unlike the sound of an alarm clock, robin song is pleasant to hear. I know it means I have to get up soon, but I can sleep through the singing, at least for a little while. Robins are sort of like a natural snooze button.

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Even though snow is still mounded up around the house, out in the meadow there are plenty of bare patches of ground. I still have not heard any frogs, however.

In spite of our recent crazy snows (two feet April 5 and 6 and about eight inches April 11), spring keeps steadily advancing. Here are the most recent signs:

n April 9: Along the Fish Hook River in town, Marlene Weber saw scaups, common goldeneye ducks, common and hooded mergansers, coots and a trumpeter swan.

n April 10: Edric Clarke found a "semi-comatose" butterfly in his garage around 11 a.m.. He said the underside of its wings were dark blue, and each wing had a large red spot. He called the butterfly a "peacock" butterfly, which he said "must be an English name." Alretta Skellenger spotted a northern saw-whet owl by Owl Lake in Nevis.

n April 13: Squirrels and deer licked up the sugar maple sap that was seeping out of a tree in front of LuAnne Whites' house in Chippewa Loop. I hosted a junco and redpoll party in the meadow.

n April 14: Janet Grundyson saw a mature bald eagle flying "about 20 feet above the Fish Hook River, cocking his head, looking for fish." She also reported having hundreds of juncos around her feeders recently. A robin overwintered near Janet and often ate apples from the Grundyson's Red Splendor crabapple tree.

n April 15: Dick from Lake Emma Township thought he might have seen a loon on the Fish Hook River. Stan from Becide reported the first flicker. My husband saw about 20 wild turkeys along CSAH 48 in Becker County around 6 p.m.

n April 16: Dick from Lake Emma reported the first 13-lined ground squirrels for the season. While having a cuppa joe on his deck, he also saw a wide variety of birds, including wood and bufflehead ducks, a great blue heron, robins, fox and song sparrows, Eastern peewee, killdeer, and flicker. Stan from Becida also saw a song sparrow.

n April 17: Dick reported the first yellow-rumped warbler of the season. He also spotted a tree swallow, grackle and bluebird in the morning.

Delores and Milton Knutson at Itasca gave me their report for the past week. A Tom turkey has been hanging around their place, along with a jake and two hens. Wood ducks are checking on food sources, and a phoebe has returned to nest on the light fixture on their deck. That's the first phoebe report I've received.

Yellow

Janet Grundyson, who lives along the Fish Hook River by the new bridge, had a question for me this week. "Where have all the yellow-headed blackbirds gone?" she wrote. "I didn't see one last year. Are they in trouble?"

I usually receive a few reports of these lemon-topped blackbirds each summer, often from the Lake Ida area, but I don't ever receive a great deal of information. I have never seen this bird "in person."

I will do some digging to see if I can find out any more information, but for now I will pose the question to readers: How often have you seen yellow-headed blackbirds in the area?

Hummingbirds

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are steadily advancing north. According to the most recent data on the Journey North Web site www.learner.org/jnorth, by April 16, rubies had made it as far as Wisconsin and Iowa.

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 maureeng@unitelc.com.

This column is brought to you by Park Ace Hardware.

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