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Showing posts from August, 2013

Birds and heat by Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley In the past I have written about the ways birds survive our deadly cold winters, but I haven’t written about the reverse.  How do they make it through extreme heat waves?  We know how humans suffer when the temperature nears 100F and the serious health crisis that can arise because of overexposure to the heat.  It is probably fairly obvious to everyone that birds are much less active as the sun gets higher into the sky, even on days when the temperature is not hovering in the 90s.  The best times of day to see birds are soon after dawn and before dusk.  This can be hard for those of us who are not ‘early birds’ ourselves, but the longer you wait the fewer you’re going to see.  Even if they remain hidden and inactive during the middle of the day, birds still need to have ways of adapting to the hot temperatures.  You may be surprised to learn that the same feathers that keep them so warm through the long cold winters actually help them cope with the heat too. T…

There is a season - turn, turn, turn by Kate Crowley

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley Recently I have been thinking of the song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)". It was an international hit and one of my favorite songs when the Byrds recorded it in 1965, but it was written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s and he was the one who added the “Turn!” lyrics to a verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes, It begins “To everything - turn, turn, turn There is a season - turn, turn, turn And a time for every purpose under heaven A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep chorus A time to build up, a time to break down A time to dance, a time to mourn A time to cast away stones A time to gather stones together Chorus A time of war, a time of peace A time of love, a time of hate A time you may embrace A time to refrain from embracing Chorus A time to gain, a time to lose A time to rend, a time to sew A time to love, a time to hate A time of peace, I swear it's …

BLACK TERNS

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WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley Most people don’t see terns very often unless they spend a lot of time on or around large bodies of water. Terns are considered seabirds, but each spring a number of species migrate to Minnesota.   The four that are most commonly seen are the Caspian, Common, Forster’s and Black.  The first three all share certain features; grey wings, white breast, black on the head, forked tails and long, bright orange bills.  At times it can be difficult to differentiate a Common from a Forster’s, but there is no way to misidentify a black tern.  As the name implies they have black bodies and heads, with silvery grey wings and a short notched tail. 


We have been fortunate this summer to see lots of black terns on the Mississippi River, beginning in late May when we paddled our canoe through the vast wetlands just south of the headwaters. At that time the graceful flyers were busy swooping and calling as they set up their courtship and nesting territories. Three to four egg…

Our little pond

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley I have not been able to maintain our little pond this summer as I’d hoped.  First it was the chilly spring weather, and then it was just trying to get flowers potted for the deck and weeding all the garden beds.  I did manage to drain it and clean out the dead leaves and detritus collected over the previous fall and winter, but I wondered whether the algae that had grown late last summer would just regrow this summer.  The answer is yes.  Even though I scrubbed the rubber liner as best I could, the rocks along the edge still had a dried layer of algae and there was no way I was going to hand scrub each of the rocks.  So I refilled it and hoped for the best. The green slimy material was soon spreading throughout.  Mike tried using a rake to remove it, but it’s really an impossible task.  In the meantime, the birds continued to use the pond as a handy bird bath, and the frogs absolutely loved the place, algae and all. For weeks, they sang through the nigh…

Observations at the feeder

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley By this time in the summer, things have quieted down significantly in the bird world.  There are no morning choruses like those we heard just a month ago.  It all goes by so fast and realistically it has to, in order for the birds to raise their young and get them living independently in time to migrate south in the fall.  While I miss that morning music, we continue to see rose breasted grosbeaks coming for sunflower seeds, and stoplight yellow goldfinch clustering by the thistle feeder.  Most of the real excitement though is around the humming bird feeders.  I could watch and write about these most marvelous little birds each week until they leave, but before I start gushing about them, let me share some of the other activity and observations here on our 20 acres. While I was visiting my son in Montana a couple weeks ago, Mike was surprised one morning to see two hen wild turkeys come strolling into the front yard, trailing four adolescent sized pullets behi…