Showing posts from March, 2014

First robins of 2014 and what we can learn

Here are my arrival records since 1986 YearMarchApril201431201328201215201123201023200919200725200623200529200425200325200210200111200022199929199841997219969199531994211993171992419912215199016198916198718198616Note the shift to March from AprilThis is a strong trend and 2013 is an outlierJust as 1994 was an earlier outlierClimate change even in a two year cold springTheir movement is not triggered by our conditionsThey move because of what they observe on the range they are leaving.

A visitor at the feeders - Kate Crowley

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley Something wasn’t right.  It was Monday morning and Mike had everything ready to begin his daily count for Feederwatch, but there were absolutely no birds to be seen.  Even the squirrels were absent.  The feeders had seeds in them, the skies were clear and it was -5F.  There had always been a frenzy of activity on previous mornings with subzero temperatures, so this was a mystery, until the explanation flew into the spruce tree. I was standing at the sink looking out the window when I saw the bird land. My first thought or impression was blue jay, but even though it had its back to me, I knew my first judgment was wrong.  This was a hawk, an accipiter to be exact.  In size it was very close to a blue jay, but it had a long barred tail and a blue gray back.  It was a sharp-shinned hawk. We have had them visit our yard before, but not this winter.  All the birds in the neighborhood knew it was nearby, even if we had not seen it.  While I watched it flew to a bar…

Earth Day - every day - Kate Crowley

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley On April 22nd we will celebrate the 44th anniversary of Earth Day.  But what does that mean?  An entire generation has been born and grown to adulthood since that day, and to them it may be a bit of history as blurry as the Vietnam War, which was still being waged in 1970.  I imagine there are people who believe this event was created by a bunch of flower child hippies, when it fact it was Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson who is considered the founder of Earth Day.  Oh how times change.  Previously, Nelson had been known as the “Conservation Governor” in Wisconsin because of his policies that brought about change in the Department of Natural Resources, initiated a Youth Conservation Corps with a thousand new ‘green’ jobs and worked to improve and expand the state parks and wilderness areas. When he got to Congress Nelson continued his crusade with stunning results, however it was not his fellow congressmen who made this happen to begin with.  In fact h…

The patience of a bird watcher - Kate Crowley Photo by Mike Link

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley Patience is a vanishing virtue in our world.  At least among humans.  It seems that the need for speed and immediacy becomes more strident every year, among all age groups.  How many of us feel frustration when we have to wait in line at the grocery store while the check-out person calls for assistance, or we’re put on hold by the insurance company when we call about our policy, or we get stuck in traffic anywhere?  Technology has conditioned us to expect results – now.   I am as guilty as the next person, but I also know there are drawbacks, like high blood pressure, rude behavior and sometimes accidents that result from our impatience.  A recent report in Audubon magazine explains that research has shown members of the Corvid family, especially crows and ravens may be more patient than we humans – at least when it comes to food.  Studies done in Germany tested the ability of these birds to delay gratification when presented with different food items.  While …


Nicci Sylvester cares about health, both in people and the environment and she has brought that concern and ethic to her new restaurant/Juice bar.  Located on 2nd St.  near downtown  Rochester, MN, this small, but very attractive establishment opened last November, just prior to the beginning of one of Minnesota’s harshest winters in 30 years.  All new restaurants struggle with becoming known in the community, but Tonic has had the additional challenge of subzero temperatures and repeated snowstorms.  Now that spring is showing its face, and people are once again walking outside, we hope they will quickly discover this oasis of green. The brightly lit café has a strong organic influence in both its décor and food.  The long counter is made of compressed recycled paper, but you’d never know it unless I told you.  Tables are scattered around with bright green filigreed chairs. The walls are painted different shades of green and on one wall an assortment of log slices creates a rustic m…

The Promise of March

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley I know the old saying has March coming in “like a lion”, but in my opinion, this year it came in “like a polar bear”.  There isn’t much more I can say that hasn’t already been said about this exceptionally cold, snowy winter.  It’s true that a long series of mild winters led to a collective memory loss of what winters CAN be like in Minnesota. Just two years ago we were setting record high temperatures in March.   Mike and I know we are exceptions when it comes to our love of winter, but even we have found the subzero temperatures restricting our ability to really enjoy it to the fullest.  However, we continue to see beauty in this white landscape – such a clean, pure canvas.  Yes, we do miss the colors of spring and summer, but if nothing else, it makes us all the more appreciative when the snow does go and the colors return.  And when it comes right down to it, what does it benefit us to complain and rage against something we have absolutely no contro…

Horned Larks

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley Photos by Mike Link I hate to admit it, but we are bored with our birds; not the daily activity, but the lack of variety.  So far this winter, the largest number of species we have seen is eleven and more commonly it has been eight and we are desperate for some variety!  Not having the resources to escape to some hot, tropical location where we might see 25 or 30 different kinds of birds in one day, we did the next best thing.  We drove 215 miles south to Lanesboro, Minnesota.  The landscape looked much the same there as up here, except for huge snowbanks alongside the roads.  The rolling hills have few trees to hold the snow when it starts to blow and the roads have been covered with deep drifts.  Even so, the countryside looked like a Currier and Ives painting, with neat farmsteads tucked into folds in the hills and gnarly branched oak trees scattered about.  Our friends live on a bluff above the Root River and Joe had been bemoaning the lack of birds at his…