Monday, April 20, 2015

Waiting for the warblers

"For most bird-watchers the coming of the warblers has the same effect as catnip on a cat." - Arline Thomas

The highlight of spring birdwatching season for many birdwatchers is seeing warblers during migration. In North America there are more than 50 species of warblers. They are small brightly colored birds and have a huge voice for their tiny size. They have been called the "butterflies of the bird world." 

Here's a primer on how to watch warblers.

In addition to warblers there are lots of other birds that can be seen during migration and during the nesting season. I've started a list of birds I've seen this spring and summer to share with you. 

So far these are some songbirds I've seen during migration. (I'll update the list as I see more birds.) 

Fox Sparrow, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, and a Hermit Thrush. (*FOY BY indicated first of year back yard)

Fox Sparrow 
(Added to 2015 list on 4/19/15 - FOY BY)

Golden-crowned Kinglet
(Added to 2015 list on 3/30/15 - FOY BY)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
(Added to 2015 list on 3/30/15 - FOY BY)
Brown Creeper
(Added to 2015 list on 4/5/15- FOY BY)
Hermit Thrush
(Added to 2015 list on 4/12/15 - FOY BY)
In addition to songbirds migrating, other bird species like raptors, woodpeckers, and 
waterfowl in the process of migration. Last night I saw a a female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker perched on the birch tree in my backyard. Below is a picture of the female.  

Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
(Added to list 5/23/15 - FOY BY)

Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
(Have not seen this year as of 5/23/15) The male has red feathers on his throat. 

Turkey Vulture
(Added to list 4/3/15 - FOY BY)

Finally a Yellow-rumped warbler!
Yellow-rumped Warbler
(Added to list 4/24/15 - FOY BY)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Top of the bully list

Spring bird migration has begun. The thought of what migrating songbirds might encounter when they arrive in Minneapolis a year from now keeps me awake at night. Migration is dangerous for songbirds and placing a large glass structure in the path of a major migratory flyway will be a disaster for them.

This is why the bully at the top of my bully list is Zygi Wilf owner of the Minnesota Vikings. The runner up for second place is the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA). Minnesota taxpayers have been duped into paying for half or more of the cost of a Vikings stadium that is currently under construction. There was opposition to a publicly financed stadium on all political sides. Many of us fought tooth and nail to stop stadium legislation but in the end Zygi the bully won. 

The design for the stadium looks like the “Crystal Cathedral.” It’s also been called the “glass vagina.” The stadium will have 200,000 square feet of glass. According to scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Institution, up to 988 million birds are killed annually in the United States by collisions with buildings, especially glass windows. The stadium is less than a mile from the Mississippi River a major bird migration flyway.

Minnesota birders have advocated for the use of fritted glass so the stadium will be more "bird safe" and mitigate the risk of collisions. Without the fritted glass many birds will get confused and fly into the glass. Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority opted against using fritted glass because of what they cite as a high price tag. The new Vikings  stadium looks like a "Crystal Cathedral" to football and "Thunder dome" to the birds.

Radar from May 2014 shows migrating birds heading north on the Mississippi Flyway. The blue circles are birds, not storms. From "BirdCast" Cornell Lab of Ornithology

The Vikings stadiums expected to be completed in August 2016. 

Links and sources: