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Great blues return, along with wood ducks, sandhills

Spring flew back to Hubbard and Becker counties this week. March 27: Alan Olander saw a male northern harrier at his home north of Nevis. March 28: Stan from Becida spotted a robin at 2:30 p.m. March 28 at the Mary Gibbs Center at Itasca State Park.

Spring flew back to Hubbard and Becker counties this week.

March 27: Alan Olander saw a male northern harrier at his home north of Nevis.

March 28: Stan from Becida spotted a robin at 2:30 p.m. March 28 at the Mary Gibbs Center at Itasca State Park. John Weber saw a robin and heard a sandhill crane near Spider Lake.

March 29: Nancy Nyhus of Fish Hook Lake saw the first wood duck of the season as it flew over the frozen lake. Dick from Lake Emma Township saw purple finches, as did John Weber. Marlene Weber reported the first red-winged blackbird of the season. Keith Ekren saw a turkey vulture around CSAH 2, and John Weber spotted an American kestrel in the same vicinity.

March 30: Dick from Lake Emma Township saw a house finch and a red-tailed hawk. John Weber saw a chipping sparrow. He also observed a white-breasted nuthatch "snipping dried leaves" from a tree, most likely to use as nesting material.

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March 31: A rough-legged hawk showed up at Dick's in Lake Emma Township.

April 1: John Weber observed what appeared to be a courting pair of eagles flying close together above CSAH 40 at Spider Lake. Stan from Becida saw a nighthawk at dusk.

April 2: Marlene Weber spotted a great blue heron of the season as she was driving back from Park Rapids April 2. Nancy Nyhus spotted a great blue at Fish Hook Lake. The Webers saw a male red-bellied woodpecker at their place and hope his presence might indicate the beginning of nesting in the area.

April 3: I saw a crow gathering nesting materials in Bemidji.

Idyllic drive

I haven't been able to spend as much time outside as I'd like recently, but I hit the bird watching jackpot Wednesday, April 2 on my drive to work.

Around 11 a.m. a mature bald eagle flew above me on Many Lakes Road (CSAH 40) just west of the intersection with CSAH 4. Just north of Emmaville, I spotted a turkey vulture perched on a deer carcass.

I saw a red-tail along "Eagle Alley," between Lake George and Kabekona. I saw another hawk there, too, but I don't know what kind it was. It was a bit smaller than the first and seemed to have more golden feathers.

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A few miles south of Bemidji, a second mature eagle swooped low over the road. I was still marveling at that when I looked off to the left and saw a sandhill crane.

That was some drive.

By the time you are reading this, I hope I have received a report of the first bluebird.

2007 Dates

I pulled out my 2007 binder so I can provide you with dates for first sightings from last year. This way we can compare dates.

March 19: red-tailed hawk

March 22: great blue heron

March 23: purple finch, red-winged blackbird, robin, bluebird.

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March 24: chipping and song sparrows, meadowlark, grackle, sandhill crane, Compton's tortoiseshell butterfly.

March 25: killdeer, herring gull, mourning cloak butterfly

March 26: phoebe, ruby-crowned kinglet, bufflehead, hooded and common mergansers, common goldeneye, gray comma butterfly

March 28: wood duck

April 3: snow

April 14: black bear

April 15: wood and chorus frogs

April 16: loon

It looks like we are a little behind in some of our arrivals this year, but we should see a lot of activity this coming week if the forecast holds. In one more month, we should be seeing hummingbirds. In 2007, the first hummer was spotted May 8.

As of April 2, ruby-throats had made it as far north as Missouri and Pennsylvania, according to the Journey North Web site.

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.

Now is the time to get your garden seeds started. Stop in today for vegetable and flower seeds, potting soil, seed starter kits and all your garden needs.

Open seven days a week, Ace is located on Highway 71 south, Park Rapids, 732-4513. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware folks.

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