We believe in connecting people with nature. Our monthly programs are FREE and open to the public. Most meetings are held the 4th Tuesday of each month at Quarry Hill Nature Center. Our speakers give presentations about a wide range of topics - not just birds.
November 20, 2021- Tundra Swan Field Trip
A record 19 people came out to view the Tundra Swans on our field trip to the Mississippi River today. The morning started off very overcast and gray and we were a bit disappointed that the majority of Swans were not near the Brownsville overlooks. Instead we saw most (several hundreds) as we drove between sites. Ducks were also less plentiful than in previous years and we had to really look to find the species we did. A DNR volunteer was on site and explained that the birds are very late this year - so viewing could get better over the next week to 10 days.
After a good look on the Minnesota side, 12 of us drove over to the Shady Maple Overlook on the Wisconsin side. The Swans were a bit closer there and Tammie and Dave Gross spotted an unusual Widgeon which we thought was an American Widgeon - Eurasian Widgeon Cross - a life bird for everyone in the group so that was a great find. (Later we learned that it was actually a rare color variant of a normal American Wigeon called a "Storm" Wigeon - still a great find!) The sun came out around noon and made a big difference in being able to see colors. On the drive we saw a variety of hawks, Bald Eagles and more. It was a fine day!
Species sighted throughout the day:
Tundra Swans, Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead Duck, Golden Eye Duck, Gadwall,
Widgeon, Pelicans, Northern Shoveler, Mallards, Canvasbacks, Hooded Merganser, Scaup, Pintails, Wood Ducks, Green Wing Teal, Coot, Canada Geese,
Sandhill Cranes, Gull, Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Coopers Hawk, Kestrel, Chickadee, Cardinal, House Sparrow, Blue Jay, Goldfinch, Pigeon, Starlings, and Pheasant (which narrowly escaped death by car)
Many thanks to Terry & Joyce Grier for leading this fun trip.
Photos by Sandy Hokanson (sorry about the poor quality - the birds were waaaay far out!)
November 6, 2021- Bird walk at Quarry Hill
Bright sunny skies greeted our group of a couple dozen birdwatchers this morning at Quarry Hill. The birds were active and we found a good assortment. I think everyone's highlight was when we came across a Coopers Hawk bathing in Silver Creek! It was a very tolerant bird and didn't fly off right away so everyone had a chance to get a good look. We saw several Robins which will probably head south soon - though many are now choosing to stay for the entire winter. Two Brown Creepers were spotted but we didn't get very good looks at them as they were quite high up in a tree. And we found one juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow - late migrants we were lucky to find. In all we saw or heard 21 species including:
Mallard, Coopers Hawk, Black-capped Chickadee, House Sparrow, Song Sparrow,
White-crowned Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, Goldfinch, Robin, Brown Creeper, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Crow, Canada Geese
Thanks to Terry and Joyce Grier for leading the walk. Sunday should be another great day for a walk in the woods - we hope you can get out and enjoy it before the weather turns.
Photos by Sandy Hokanson
Oct. 26, 2021- Monthly Program - When Yellow Warblers call - Red-winged Blackbirds listen!
Presented by Shelby Lawson / Ph.D student at University of Illinois
People respond to ambulance sirens by getting out of the way - we learn that behavior over time. Do birds learn to respond to other birds alarm calls? Shelby Lawson's is trying to answer that questions and more. She's studying the “seet” calls of Yellow Warblers - and how other birds react to those calls. The “seet” calls are a warning that Brown-headed Cowbirds are in the area, and Cowbirds are bad news as they try to lay their eggs in other birds' nests Shelby's team has discovered that Red-winged Blackbirds eavesdrop on the Yellow Warbler "seet" call and use it to protect their nests from Cowbirds as well. Her research is fascinating and opens up many questions about how birds and mammals become aware of the "languages" around them, eventually understand what's going on ... and then use that information to their advantage. Thank you, Shelby!
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© ZVAS 2021 - Zumbro Valley Audubon Society - PO Box 6244 - Rochester, MN 55903