Powdernorn Birdwatch “Finally, no longer strangers to paradise”

Merganser ducksBY JOHN KARRIGAN

I could start this month by not complaining about the weather because it has been fairly OK recently. I would not even have to mention the little ice crystals that fell on me at 6:15 a.m. on May 15, when I saw four Black-crowned Night Herons, two Great Blue Herons, one Great Egret and a few Robins at the park. Enough of that. The weather was also fairly OK, but cool, for the fantastic and wonderful 40th annual MayDay Parade.
On various days in May, strangers and non-strangers asked about the Eagle (or Eagles). I have not seen a Bald Eagle in the park or neighborhood since May 10, when the usual Crow hassling an Eagle was happening. Maybe I have missed a lot of Eagle sightings or maybe (and I hope this is not the case) regular Eagle sightings are only going to happen in the fall and spring.
For another historic United States bird arrival, a female Wild Turkey was on my block, right across “my alley” on May 6. That is my only turkey report for May.
The Belted Kingfisher stayed around the lake at least long enough for the May Day Parade and a few Spotted Sandpipers visited in the first half of the month. Another early May visitor was a male Red-winged Blackbird. I wonder if this is the same Red-wing that arrives various springs, sings like mad for a few days and then leaves the park because he is the only (male or female) Red-wing in the park, and there are thousands and thousands of Red-wings in many other places around the metro area.
Another unresolved mating issue could be the Merganser ducks. The only Mergansers I saw in the park this spring were female.
And one more mating issue: The Cooper’s Hawks that I mentioned last month. There is definitely a pair of them and they seem to be properly tending their nest north of the park building. I have seen no signs of baby hawks, but Cooper’s Hawks incubate from 32 to 36 days, and I and the many other hawk watchers are no doubt waiting expectantly for some action soon.
On to smaller birds that could be seen in some back yards or the park. Bluebirds returned about mid-month and will no doubt stay until fall. Ruby-crowned Kinglets have been here for at least the first two-thirds of May, may still be here and will probably visit for awhile in the fall also. Lots of warblers visited the park and neighborhood in mid-May but I think most are gone now. My really good birding neighbor saw 10 species in one day. I saw seven species: Yellow-Rumps, Common Yellowthroats, Yellow, Palm, Black and White, Blackpoll, and one I am still trying to figure out.
The regular local water birds seem to be doing well. So far I have seen two broods of Canada Geese, one with six goslings and one with seven. There will probably be a lot more. I have seen one Mallard brood of nine and no Wood Duck broods yet, but there will no doubt be a lot of both of those soon.
Now to the wading birds, but none of them nest at Powderhorn, at least not yet. The numbers change a bit day-by-day but usually there are two to four species to be seen. There are often four Black-crowned Night Herons, one to two Great Blue Herons, one to six Great Egrets and when they are not really hidden, two Green Herons.
One day, May 10, on the northwest shore of the lake, a Green Heron, a Great Egret and a Great Blue Heron were along the lake edge within a span of about 35 feet when a Black-crowned Night Heron arrived and landed on a tree above them. Quite a sight—to see all four species within one view. They all seem to fish quite successfully when they need to.
The lake turtles seem fine also. On a good sunny day, there are plenty of Painted Turtles out sunning. I have only seen one Snapping Turtle so far this year and I am still hopefully waiting to see the Spiny Softshell Turtles that were around for several years.
Back to birds. We had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak at a backyard feeder on May 12, but we didn’t see it. A good neighbor reported it to us, but I did see one in the yard a number of years ago. And this year, I did see both a male and female Grosbeak at my estate in Eagan. Oh wait, that was not my estate; it was my former Powderhorn neighbor’s very nice house where I was house and animal-sitting for a few days this month.
I hope the weather stays reasonable and that all Powderhornians enjoy a good summer.

Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.


Comments are closed.