Showing posts from July, 2016


WINGIN’ IT BY Kate Crowley I don’t know when the Eastern Phoebes returned to our property this year because we were gone for the entire month of April and part of May, but the average over the past ten years has been mid to later April.  When we returned the male was in his usual location, back by the barn singing his sweet, raspy “fee-bee, fee-bee’ song, with the second phrase ending with a bit of a tremolo. This call is repeated over and over, especially while the male is seeking a mate.  It will continue throughout June and July, but with less intensity and frequency, unless he seeks another mate. The Phoebes have been coming to our property since we moved here 30 years ago (and probably long before that).  They have used different locations for their small, neat cup nests, but quite long ago they discovered the light fixtures in the barn, where the horses used to stay were ideal nest sites.  They built two identical nests, one above each light fixture. These were made with a combina…

Minnesota Mosquitoes

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley It could be the soundtrack for a horror movie……a faint, high pitched whining, that grows louder as you look around and in a panic begin to run for your life.  That is what life has become here in northern Pine County (and possibly southern, and Carlton County).  The mosquitoes this summer have taken over our minds and bodies.  We are being held hostage day after beautiful summer day, by these blood sucking hordes hovering near every door and window.  Minnesotan’s love to brag and joke about the Mosquitoes (our state bird – yuk, yuk), but no one is laughing now.  We seriously have no recollection of them being so abundant and fierce in any of our 30 years on this property. June was blessedly beautiful and we sat on our deck in the evenings basking in the low angled sun and soft breezes.  We congratulated ourselves again and again on our good fortune to live on a sand plain where water soaks quickly into the ground, leaving mosquitoes with less breeding h…

Rain threatens birds

WINGIN’ IT By Kate Crowley As the floodwaters recede, a stunned and relieved populace can finally stop holding their collective breath. Throughout southern Carlton County and all of Pine County there is a sense of disbelief that only four years after a major flood event, it has happened again.  At our home we measured over 8” of rain in less than 24 hours. This is what the word deluge was meant to describe. Others said it felt like they were in the middle of a monsoon. Thankfully there was no loss of life in our region, but property damage and loss was significant for people who have in some cases finally recovered and remodeled after the flood of 2012, which was said to be a once in 100 years flood when 8 to 10 inches of rain were spread over three days. Here in Willow River, there was fear that the small dam holding back the waters of the river would fail, with catastrophic results. Roads throughout the two counties (and into Wisconsin) were hard hit and the cost to repair them is goin…

Love and Need for Trees

GOING NATURE’S WAY By Kate Crowley The recent storms that blew through took a toll on many trees in the Willow River area. On our property we thought we had been spared because there were just two dead jack pines that came down in the horse pasture. We have lots of trees around our home and thankfully they held, but then we walked around our trails today and discovered there will be months of work cutting and clearing all the trees that fell and that includes a two perfectly healthy looking white pines and a very large, very healthy looking balsam fir.    We are in the habit of leaving dead trees standing in our fields and pasture as food and nesting sites for the birds and don’t really mourn their loss when they finally succumb to the elements.  They have given their all to us and the other creatures that live here, but losing a healthy, full size tree is always a shock and a feeling of loss, especially if it is nearby where you are used to seeing it, day in and day out. Last year we ha…