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Showing posts from March, 2016

Bald Eagles in the Apostle Islands

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Going Nature’s Way By Kate Crowley With the ridiculously warm weather we had last week, the migration of birds returning north accelerated, only this year rather than seeing robins and red-winged blackbirds what I’ve been seeing are lots and lots of Bald Eagles.  It really has been spectacular. It began three weeks ago when we went to Bayfield and took the ferry over to Madeline Island.  There was ice on either side of the boat as we crossed the Bay, but the sun was warm and the sky was blue.  On the way back to Bayfield I noticed a couple large dark birds performing an aerial ballet, with twists and turns and I knew immediately it was a pair of Bald Eagles engaged in courtship display.  Then I looked ahead and to the left of the boat and standing on the ice floes were at least six dark bird shapes.  More eagles! The boat had left an open channel of water and some were standing near the edge, hoping I guess, for a fish to appear.  As we approached they all took flight and soon the air a…

Ruffed Grouse

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WINGIN’ IT By Kate  Crowley
As we began a hike with our Brazilian friends, Deise and Ricardo, I told them about the birds known as Ruffed Grouse that live in our woods and scare the daylights out of me every time I’m skiing our trails and they suddenly erupt into flight. I call them ‘heart-attack’ birds. It’s hard to communicate that level of surprise, if you’ve never experienced it.  And it doesn’t matter how often it happens; from year to year, it always catches me off-guard. This winter, when I have been able to ski, I have only had a couple of grouse make themselves known in this shocking manner.  Ruffed Grouse, sometimes (mistakenly) called partridge are the most popular game bird in our state.  Annual hunter harvest averages more than 500,000 birds, but that is an average because these birds, like some other animals, have a cyclic population dynamic.  About every ten years their population will reach a peak in numbers and then gradually drop to the lowest numbers.  Based on that c…

Exploring winter with Brazilian friends

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GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley We are entering the month when people are getting tired of winter and Saturday with the temperature reaching into the 50’s didn’t make matters any easier. As expected, the temperatures dropped on Sunday and we got snow, typical for this month of transition. If you are beginning to experience the winter ‘blahs’, Mike and I can recommend a guaranteed cure that does not involve flying off to some tropical climes, even though that may sound pretty darn good.  No, what we recommend is importing some friends from the Southern Hemisphere.  These should be people who are not afraid of real winter weather; people like Deise Nizzola and Ricardo Alves. We have known Deise since 1995 when she came to the Audubon Center as an international intern.  She and Ricardo live at the very southern end of Brazil, so they do have seasons, including winter.  They might occasionally get a little snow, but it is short lived and mostly winter is a cold, damp season.  Deise and R…