Powderhorn Birdwatch: The story goes on and on, my friends

squirrelbread-028-1024x682BY JOHN KARRIGAN

I could start this month the same as last month—that I was expecting a lot of new birds this month, but they did not show up. In fact I have seen no warblers in the park this year. Most years by this time I would see about a half-dozen Warbler species and I would always see Yellow-rumped Warblers who would often stay for quite a while. I did see Yellow-rumped warblers at my (imaginary) estate in Eagan and in Patrick Eagan Park, also of course in Eagan, while on a late April house-sitting adventure.
I wonder if the large loss of Ash trees or the large loss of small trees near the lakeshore in the park, or for that matter, the strange climate changes all over have affected the bird situation in Powderhorn.
The usual water birds—Canada Geese, Wood Ducks and Mallard Ducks—seem to be doing fine with the Canada Geese, as usual way ahead in baby production so far, with groups of goslings from numbering four to about 16. The Mallards and Wood Ducks, also as usual, are behind in baby production so far. But the ducks may be catching up. There is one group of about 17 Wood Duck ducklings, one of only two, and a couple small Mallard duckling groups. Time will tell.
I almost forgot to mention the secret Canada Goose nest, about 8 or 10 feet up in a Cottonwood tree crotch, near the lakeshore. I never saw it until an other-side-of-the-lake expert indirectly informed me, and I suspect all kinds of people walk right by without seeing the nest and wonder why the male goose doesn’t like them in the area.
Some people, including me, are worrying about how the tree-born goslings will get down from the tree and get to the lake alive. Someone else said this is not uncommon. The books say it is uncommon. Time will tell if they succeed.
Another nest, this one way higher than the goose nest, the Cooper’s Hawk nest, is around 40 feet up and seems to be OK, but I still have not seen evidence of the young. Another time-will-tell item.
The herons—Great Blue, Black-crowned Night and, the most recent arrival, Green—are around much of the time. But I have not seen an Egret for some time. None of the Herons or Egrets nest here nor do the Cormorants.
The Painted Turtles are doing fine. I still have not seen Snapping Turtles this year, but I, and at least one other person (a smart one), have seen a Blanding’s Turtle in the lake. Male Blanding’s Turtles take 10 years to mature and 15 years for females, and can live for over 75 years. They travel up to a mile searching for open sandy nesting sites. I don’t think the Powderhorn Blandings will do that.
Hundreds (or thousands) of frogs have been singing or communicating around the lakeshore on some of these rainy days. Sometimes you can listen to them at quite a distance in the middle of the night, if you do strange things like that. Not that I know anyone who would do that.
By the way, many of the frogs, birds, etc., have been talking about the dock finally being repaired a few days after May Day. The herons, ducks and geese like to use the dock early in the morning and late at night, and many of the critters do like to watch the “silly humans,” as they say, when they (the humans) fall into the lake. The critters now would like to see the “new” garbage and recycling containers properly distributed around the park, except for the squirrels, who really like the litter.
One other new critter, a woodchuck, has been seen around the park edge. He (or she) is not part of the  litter-loving contingent.
The backyard birding is going quite well with way more songbirds and such than the park this year. We even had a thrush for a very short stay, so short that I have no idea which member of the thrush family it was. But it definitely was not the most famous thrush family member, the Robin.
I was hoping for lots more new spring birds this spring, but maybe more will come along as summer birds, or whatever else.

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

One Comment:

  1. dear john,

    I so much look forward to your observations.. a real highlight … from a long time bird observer (’50’s , u of m ornithology classes under dr. warner, and travels in us, Canada, central America, Ecuador, Europe; and a lot of rehab work).

    so pleased to hear the green herons are back … one of my highlights was the graceful elegant nesting pair that chose loring when i lived in the area.

    i can’t get out anymore and miss Roberts and Eloise butler. thank you so much for making not just my day but my seasons.

    best,
    Cheryl
    Minnehaha east nokomis

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