Friday, July 26, 2013

Another Green Heron Generation

Greetings from apparently the least vigilant but possibly the most hopeful phenologist ever.
What: A Green Heron chick, pretty far along developmentally and capably (though cautiously) flying from one pine bough to the next.
Where: East border of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
When: 8:30 am, Friday, July 26
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Comfortably cool and mostly cloudy sky but with patches of cerulean blue. Lovely indeed.

As readers know, last year a pair of Green Herons nested and attempted to raise a brood in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. This year, in mid-May, Christina and I again saw herons and even observed strange behavior which we surmised was a form of courtship. But despite our expeditions and upturned faces, we didn't find their nest this year. Throughout the summer, I've seen a heron in the Garden about once a week. What's worth noting is that every time I saw the bird, it was perched atop a linden tree, not hunting in the pond where I'd expect to see it. I asked myself, "If not exclusively for food, why is it hanging around here?"

Fast forward to today. The adult bird not far away, a fuzzy-headed chick is hopping and making short flights, about 15' up in the pines. It gave me hope to see such a confident and apparently fit fledgling. I imagined its migration, picturing this new bird in a new land for the winter, and then, maybe, returning to the Garden next spring.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Odonata Proliferation, and Lil' Ground Squirrels

As summer comes to its middle, much of the fresh new life in the Sculpture Garden has moved on; the ducklings are gone, as are the tadpoles, presumably turned now to toads and setting out to find their fortunes in the big city. But phenology moves on! That's what phenology means! Kinda!

What: A couple of new sorts of dragonfly - the Odonata of the title. The one with the striped wings in the middle, above, that's been around for quite awhile; I just finally got a decent picture of it. The red and the yellow-striped ones are new, though. Where do they come from? What do they want?
Where: In the reeds on the west side of the pond, mostly, though of course they can fly! Fly through the very air!
When: 1:00 PM, Tuesday, July 23rd
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Sunny with a breeze and just as pleasant as anything ever

What: Little thirteen-lined ground squirrels; probably a couple of weeks old by now but still small and youthful. Two of them were chasing each other around the grass and AWWWWWW.
Where: Southeast corner of the Garden.
When: 1:00 PM, Tuesday, July 23rd
Observer: Matt
Conditions: So nice, you guys

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Odonata Postscript

Thanks to Matt for his humorous and informative post! As for the dragonflies we saw but didn't manage to net (yet): We saw a Green Darner. This I say with fair confidence. And we saw a skimmer, though as to what species of skimmer it was, I am exceedingly uncertain.

Providing me a constant reminder and temptation, the net remains at my desk. Also, I brought that jeweler's loupe that will afford us a magnified view of damselfly abdomens. And I have quite a bit of studying to do, too, so I can become more facile with the identification key.

Another field note: I have searched the pond's perimeter for exuvia (empty exoskeletons from dragonfly and damselfly nymphs) but I don't yet see them. Perhaps I'm overlooking them, especially likely since a segment of the pond's edge is made inaccessible by a temporary fence. But once a generation of Green Darners emerges, I expect it will be more evident since their nymphs are so large.

Another field note: Linden trees have been blooming this past week, in the Garden and around town.

New Pond Life, and Insect Capturing

Today Abbie brought in an insect net for the purpose of catching some dragonflies and damselflies from the Spoonbridge pond area. (At least, I assume that was her original purpose. Maybe she brought it in for some reason I dare not guess and then thought, "Hey, wait a minute!") So that's what she and I set out to do. What we learned: Dragonflies are super hard to catch.

Before we became acquainted with this lesson, however, we saw some delightful new life in the pond!

What: Ducklings! Seven of them, I believe. Presumably from the nest previously under the Spoonbridge, though oddly, the nest had gone vacant during the past week, with no sign of the hatchlings; we'd all assumed it had simply failed. But here they were! Perhaps last week they were being kept in the reeds on a side of the pond currently fenced-off?
Where: North side of the Spoonbridge pond.
When: 5:00 PM, Tuesday, July 2nd
Observers: Abbie and Matt
Conditions: Warm, clear, a bit of a breeze

What: A very large painted turtle, maybe about a foot long. Abbie said she didn't think she'd ever seen a turtle in the pond before. I certainly hadn't, but I'm new at this.
Where: The pond, mostly swimming about the east side.
When: 5:00 PM, Tuesday, July 2nd
Observers: Abbie and Matt
Conditions: Warm, clear, a bit of a breeze still

What: The two sorts of insects we did manage to catch. No dragonflies, I'm afraid, though we could see there were two varieties present (Abbie, I have forgotten what species you believed them to be; perhaps a comment or a new post?). We did catch a damselfly, whose species we narrowed down to one of four of a subcategory of damselflies called bluets. This failure of specificity was in spite of the fact that I was holding the damselfly and we could observe it closely and at length, and the fact that Abbie had a comprehensive field guide to such on hand. Which is to say: There are a lot of species of damselflies that look more or less identical. It seems that what we needed was a magnifying glass. After I let it go, it perched itself comfortably on my fingertip for a time; apparently you can befriend damselflies by catching them in a net and then holding them by their wings for a few minutes. I also inadvertently caught a tiny water scorpion while catching the bluet, and even more inadvertently killed it when Abbie passed it to my clumsy mitts.
Where: Southeast end of the pond.
When: 5:00 PM, Tuesday, July 2nd
Observers: Abbie and Matt
Conditions: Warm, clear, a bit of a breeze; for the bluet, uncomfortable

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Aftermath of Rock

So yesterday was Rock the Garden, just south of the Sculpture Garden, and while this was certainly a good time for the human attendees, to the non-humans who were hanging about the area I'm sure it was mostly a lot of unbelievable noise and thousands of primates stomping about, alas. Such is the life of city-dwelling nature. The Garden was also heavily populated by humanity when I went out this afternoon; it's been one of the first nice, summery weekends of the year. As such, the animals were a bit more reticent than normal. Even the robins chirped away from behind bushes. The pond was where most of the action was that I saw today.

What: I've mentioned the mallard nest on the island of the Spoonbridge before. Today I couldn't see it immediately, though, where it was always very plain before, even yesterday morning. I think perhaps it's been flattened or lowered somehow? As though mother mallard is hunkering down. Didn't care for Bob Mould, maybe. Not everybody likes Bob Mould.
Where: The island where the cup part of the Spoonbridge rests.
When: 2:30 PM, Sunday, June 16th
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Sunny and clear for a change

What: Abbie has mentioned the tadpoles. They were all but blackening the water along about 20 feet of shore; seriously, I don't think conventional mathematics has a number to express this many tadpoles.
Where: They seem to have migrated to the western section of the northern arm of the pond, where before they lived to the east. The eastern section was kind of filthy today, though, and perhaps that's something to do with it.
When: 2:30 PM, Sunday, June 16th
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Delightful

What: Dragonflies and damselflies. The damselflies were green in the thorax and blue in the abdomen; the dragonflies had black wings with two white stripes apiece. Very striking. Sorry about the photo quality; they never came to rest while I was there, and dragonflies in flight are really, really hard to photograph.
Where: All over the pond.
When: 2:30 PM, Sunday, June 16th
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Sunny and bright

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What: Black Locust trees are in bloom and the scent is intoxicating
Where: Along the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail by Linden Yard, there is a stretch of about 50 feet that is dominated by Black Locust trees. One is immersed in the scent and view their flowers provide.
When: 4:30 pm on Monday, June 10
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Clear and warm, a marked contrast to the cool overcast days that seem to be dominant of late.

What: Cottony seeds from Cottonwood trees
Where: The north edge of Bryn Mawr Meadows
When: 4:35 pm on Monday, June 10
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: A gentle breeze is perceived by trembling leaves and airborne specks

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Someone Left The Cake Out In The Rain

It's okay, though, I've still got the recipe. Raining today in Minneapolis, as it has been doing at some point every day since what feels like the beginning of time. I went out to the Sculpture Garden in it to see what I could see; here are a few of those things.

What: A green heron. I am told - by this blog, actually - that such tried unsuccessfully to nest in the Garden last year; I don't know whether they're giving it another shot this year, but Abbie and I saw one last week, and I got an even better look today. Really handsome birds, the green herons.
Where: Northeast section of the park; just standing in the field at first, but then flew into the trees.
When: Sunday, June 9th, 2013, ~2:00 PM
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Raining! Lightly.

What: A broken, half-eaten egg, in the pond. My suspicion is that it was a mallard egg - there is a brooding female on the island under the spoonbridge itself. She was still brooding today, so presumably the nest is not entirely compromised, but in another part of the pond there was this egg. The fault of a raccoon, perhaps? Or even a rat? A crow? I suppose a number of animals might raid a duck's nest. It is also possible that this was a storebought chicken egg that ended up in the pond for some reason or other; mallard eggs and chicken eggs look fairly similar, and though it does not seem reasonable that someone would put an egg in the pond, less reasonable things happen in public parks pretty much constantly.
Where: Under water just off the shore, northwest section of the Spoonbridge pond
When: Sunday, June 9th, 2013, ~2:00 PM
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Still raining.

Other notes: Robins galore out in the rain; a number of adults looking for flushed-out worms - I saw one female with one in her mouth, still writhing and wriggling - and a lot of juveniles of various ages, looking generally put out. The tadpoles are getting bigger, and there seem to be a thousand of them. And the ground squirrel hole I saw getting dug the other day has been filled in! I do not know by what or whom.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Digging a Hole

Hi, everybody, I'm Matt, and I'm a gallery assistant at the Walker Art Center, and I'd like to thank Abbie for letting me take part in this wonderful thing of hers. I have a lifelong love of animals and nature that has, in my adulthood, regrettably become very armchair; this opportunity to go out and explore and observe has been simultaneously exciting and remarkably relaxing.

Please note that - well, elsewhere on this site Abbie has made mention of her amateur status, and that goes a hundredfold for me. Under ideal viewing conditions I am likely to be able to distinguish a house sparrow from, say, a dog, or a car. More should not be expected of me just yet, though I've been doing this for a little under two weeks now and it has been a speedy and remarkable learning experience.

My first report is about thirteen-lined ground squirrels, the 'gophers' (in a misidentification) of Minnesota mascot fame!

What: A thirteen-lined ground squirrel digging a new hole, or perhaps expanding an old one. Almost every day I go out to the sculpture garden I find new ground squirrel holes, which I'd been taking as a lack of prior attentiveness on my part - but perhaps the numbers are in fact growing, as today I saw a hole with dirt flying out of it, adding to a field of freshly-dug soil right outside of it.
Where: One of the raised areas with the trees on top of them, in the southeast section of the park; the ground squirrels seem to favor these areas when considering their real estate options.
When: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013, noon
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Overcast and rainy, though not actually raining at this time

(Note that, in the picture, the ground squirrel is a little darker than the usual, filthy from its excavations.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Barn Swallow Sport

Photo courtesy Stephen Peterson, via Flickr
For additional information from the photographer, click the image then scroll down

What: If I hadn't seen it, I might not believe it. A softly drifting down feather, ~40 feet in the air, was an object of sport for five Barn Swallows. First, one individual caught the feather in its bill, then spontaneously released it midair. Within a second, another individual swooped in to catch and shortly release the feather. The swallows transferred the feather ~5 times before flying away.
Where: At the pond near the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture
When: Saturday, June 1, 9 am
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Sunny morning before the Walker's busy family day.

Friday, May 31, 2013

First Monarch Butterfly

What: The first Monarch Butterfly I've seen this year
Where: In the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, in the courtyard with Arikidea
When: 4:45 pm on Friday, May 31
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Partly sunny and perfectly delightful (now that the flash hail storm is past)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

First Fledgling

What: A dark bird with downy fuzz, especially above the eyes. I infer its age by its proportions (large eye and beak), behavior (chirping and not flying), and under-developed plumage. Probably a Common Grackle.
Where: Appropriately, on the pedestal of Henry Moore's Reclining Mother and Child
When: 8:45 am on Thursday, May 30
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Warm and muggy, having rained the preceding night.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Still Trilling

What: I went out to video the tadpoles when I heard more trilling.
Where: The pond at Spoonbridge and Cherry
When: About 3 pm on Wednesday, May 29
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Lightly raining and warm.

Other notes: I heard a small flock of Cedar Waxwings and after much efforts to locate them, I saw about 5 up high in the pines along the Garden's west edge. I quickly scouted the Garden again, at about 5:30, and again heard waxwings, this time at the east edge. As before, eventually their sound and movement disclosed their location to me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tadpole Hatch at Spoonbridge

What: The tadpoles have hatched! Just like we noticed last year, when they first hatch they remain in a cluster and stay mostly still. We think there are considerably fewer toad offspring this year compared to last, but it'd be difficult to make a quantitative comparison. My extremely rough guess is that we're seeing about 30% of what we saw last year.
Where: in the pond near Spoonbridge and Cherry
When: 4:30 pm on Tuesday, May 28
Observers: Christina and Abbie
Conditions: Overcast

Friday, May 24, 2013

Overdue Report

Things are happening so fast I scarcely have time for "constant vigilance," not to mention time for posting reports! But the good news is that Open Phenology has a new collaborator. Walker gallery assistant Matt set out on a garden expedition today and reported back his discovery to me. This past week is represented by the smattering of news below:

What: Toads heard trilling!
Where: The pond near Spoonbridge and Cherry
When: Monday, May 20 at 8:30 am
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Just for reference, last year's trilling phenomena started in late April and seemed to conclude by May 17. And last year by May 21, there were tadpoles.

What: Strings of toads eggs
Where: The pond near Spoonbridge and Cherry
When: Tuesday, May 21 at 1 pm
Observers: Christina and Abbie
Conditions: Clumps of eggs were not floating at the surface, like I had seen them last year. They were submerged and I almost missed seeing them.

What: Robins on nests
Where: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
When: Tuesday, May 21 at 1 pm
Observer: Christina and Abbie
Conditions: One of these occupied nests is in Spotty's territory.

What: Mystery aquatic organism --- about 1.5 inch long, gray, and flat. It is seen undulating and constantly in a waving S-shape.
Where: The pond at Spoonbridge, near the drains on the west edge.
When: Friday, May 24, ~12 pm
Observer: Matt
Conditions: Could this be a leach? At first I thought nematode but maybe not if it's flat. Matt and I will continue the investigation and post photo documentation if possible.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Spotty is back in his spot

What: Last year, my (constantly vigilant) colleague Christina and I noticed a partially leucistic American Robin in the Sculpture Garden. We named him "Spotty" because of his markings, which afforded us opportunity to track him as an individual. And yesterday, I saw him exactly where I expected to see him. Welcome back, Spotty!
Where: East edge of the Sculpture Garden, between Nautilus and X with Columns.
When: 10 am, Wednesday, May 8
Observer: Abbie. But soon, Christina too will be on the scene, exercising vigilance and emitting enthusiasm. I'm sure photos will follow.
Conditions: A little overcast.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BioBlitz Coming Soon!

Hello, readers! Mark your calendars for the annual BioBlitz event.

When: June 14 (starting at 5 pm) through June 15 (ending at 5 pm)

Where: Coldwater Spring

More information: Visit the Mississippi River Fund website

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cottonwood Catkins Emerge

What: Flowers (male catkins) of the Eastern Cottonwood have emerged! Just yesterday I used my binoculars to inspect the upper branches and saw only closed buds. By afternoon today, the upper 2/3 of the tree exhibits burst buds. (As an aside, in the southeast corner of the Sculpture Garden there are other trees from the Populus genus---possibly Quaking Aspen---and these flowered a few days before the Cottonwood.)
Where: Planted in 1997 in the northwest corner of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, this tree is part of a posthumous continuation Joseph Beuys' 7000 Oaks.
When: 5:30 pm, Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Rapidly things are changing in the Garden.

Friday, April 26, 2013

White-Throated Sparrow Passing Through

Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar, via Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)
What: One of my favorite birds, a White-throated Sparrow, foraging on the garden grounds to fuel his migration to boreal forests.
Where: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden in the grove just north of Spoonbridge and Cherry.
When: 2:40 pm on Friday, April 26, 2013
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: In this "spring of many winters," today's warmth and sun have everyone giddy for spring.

Female Red-winged Blackbirds Start to Arrive

What: Two female Red-winged Blackbirds, the first I've seen this year
Where: Loring Park
When: 8:20 am, Friday, April 26
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Sunny and virtually impossible to put down my binoculars and get to work on time. The blackbirds are especially interesting to watch as the males are busy feeding on cattails, calling, and showing off their brightly colored epaulettes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Killdeer on the Playing Fields

What: They're back! When I heard their cries, I pulled out my binoculars and spotted a pair of Killdeer. Not the first I've seen all year, but the first seen this year in the vicinity of the Walker.
Where: Bryn Mawr Meadows Park, northwest of the Walker Art Center
When: 8:20 am, Monday, April 8
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Looking over notes from 2012, last year's first observation of a Killdeer was March 12. But what I'd really like to know is: How quickly do these manage to raise their brood? Right now, the fields are vacant, but before long they'll be occupied daily by baseball, soccer, and cricket players. So is it possible for Killdeer to be successful on this territory?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chipmunks Emerge

What: A Chipmunk, the first I've seen emerge from hibernation.
Where: Near Wirth Park
When: 10:50 am, Sunday, April 7
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Overcast, about 37 degrees, a quiet day except for the ceaselessly singing Northern Cardinal. Over the past week, I've been watching for the first 13-lined Ground Squirrel in the Sculpture Garden, but either they weren't out yet or I was looking at the wrong time/place. But I'll go back tomorrow with renewed determination.

Minnesota's Top 7 Species to Follow

I'm just back from an outstanding conference on Minnesota phenology and I'm supercharged with new observations, friends, and knowledge. Percolating to the top of this enthusiasm is news of an initiative by the Minnesota Phenology Network to select the following "Top 7" species to track:
  • Red Maple
  • Common Loon
  • Tamarack
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Lilac
  • Monarch
Read more here Then learn exactly what to watch for by following the links which take you to detailed information at the National Phenology Network.

This exciting initiative not only focuses our observations, but does so strategically by choosing species that are easy to identify and iconic of Minnesota. I'm particularly excited about the Tamarack (Larix laricina) and Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) since I pass these every day on my walk to work. Also, one can routinely observe hummingbirds and Monarch Butterflies in the Sculpture Garden's arbor.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bashō was a Phenologist

If Proust was a neuroscientist, Bashō was a phenologist.
A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.
A snowy morning--
by myself,
chewing on dried salmon.
A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering. 
---three haiku poems by Bashō

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Four Firsts

I find my home turf drastically transformed today, my first day back after 6 days in California.

What: Common Grackles, about 15, the first I've seen this year. Naturally, I heard their coarse squawks before spotting them in the arbor vitae and linden trees.
Where: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden's grande allée
When: 5:15 pm

What: Red-winged Blackbirds, about 10 (all males), another first for 2013. Like the grackles, the blackbirds are heard before seeen.
Where: Loring Park and Spring Lake
When: 5:25 & 7 pm, respectively

What: Song Sparrow singing, first I've heard this year
Where: Theodore Wirth Park
When: 7:45 pm on Thursday, April 4

What: A bat in flight! I confess, I don't know species of Minnesota bats. I'm estimating this individual was about as big as a House Finch or maybe a little bigger.
Where: Theodore Wirth Park
When: 8:01 pm on Thursday, April 4

Observer: Abbie
Conditions: Perhaps if I had not been away, these reports of "firsts" would have come earlier.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Great Blue Herons, First of 2013

What: Great Blue Herons, the first I've seen in 2013
Where: Lowry Bridge in North Minneapolis. First, I see one individual in flight. If flies about 1/2 mile up the Mississippi River and lands in a rookery. I count about 30 nests and at least 4 other individuals.
When: 5:30 pm Saturday, March 23
Observers: Abbie and Scott, out on a 10+ mile walk. About 15 minutes later, I see one more individual in flight and Scott asks me how I can identify it from such a distance and from a ventral vantage point, no less. I tell Scott I recognize it by size and the character of its flight. But how would I articulate what I'm seeing? Once home, I read what Pete Dunne has to say about GBH flight:
"Steady wingbeats seem slow and ponderous. . . . Great Blue Heron flies on severely down-bowed wings (seeming to cup the air), and the wings don't appear to rise above the body. The bird flies as if dipping its wingtips into an invisible cauldron, testing the air."
Conditions: Overcast and about 40 degrees. Once home, I do a bit more research. At the top of my search results is this article which leads me to believe I'm looking at a new rookery, started in May/June 2011 after the May 22 tornado destroyed more established rookery further upriver. Next, I turn to e-Bird for a little more information (click image to enlarge).
In early March, GBH appears on about 1% of checklists. Then frequency steadily rises until by mid-April, GBH appears on about 28% of checklists. (This data includes Hennepin County checklists from 1900 to 2013.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Studio 360 & Macaulay Library's Challenge to Listeners

HOST: Kurt Andersen
GUEST: Greg Budney
PRODUCED BY: Jenny Lawton

This "Spring Remix" contest closes midnight on March 17. To participate, go to:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tapping for Syrup

What: Charlotte and Nathaniel are tapping Boxelder trees for syrup. Encountering this friendly and industrious pair on my walk home from work, I stop to converse with them about their project.
Where: In the Near North neighborhoods of Minneapolis, near Bassett Creek
When: Wednesday, March 13, about 5:30 pm
Observer: Abbie
Conditions: How do you know when the sap is rising? Charlotte tells me the thermometer gives the signal. When nights are still 32 or below but days warm up above freezing, that's when a maple's stored sugars are traveling up from the roots and out to the branches.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Emergence 4th Annual Phenology Gathering

Dear Readers,
The Minnesota Phenology Network is hosting a gathering on April 5, 6 and 7. Usher in spring with a weekend of guided nature walks, workshops and keynote speakers including:
  • Stan Temple- Senior Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation
  • Scott Mehus – Education Director at the National Eagle Center
  • Rebecca Montgomery – UMN Department of Forest Resources
  • ‘Dinner on the Bluff’ showcasing local foods
  • Stream benthic community exploration 
  • Introduction to phenology observation
  • Guided hikes at Eagle Bluff and Forestville State Park
Join the weekend gathering at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, located at 28097 Goodview Drive, Lanesboro, MN 55949.

For details, visit

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Silver Maple Flower Buds - When Exactly Will They Burst?

Silver Maple
Photo by Dean Gugler, via Flickr

What: Around town, silver maple branches are studded with buds. But unlike the Flickr image above, buds are not opening just yet. While on a walk, I noticed underfoot a little cluster of red buds that had fallen to the ground. I didn't have my camera with me so I searched Flickr to find this picture above. The flower pictured here was photographed on March 12, 2012 and the fact that it's further along in opening is demonstrative of last year's aberrational March weather.
Where: South Minneapolis, Nokomis neighborhood. I don't think there are any silver maples in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, but this observation motivates me to scout the park to identify tree species and notice the first flowering phenomena.
When: Sunday, March 10
Observers: Abbie and Scott
Conditions: More puddles than pavement

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Communal Roosting Phenomena

What: I counted easily 800 American Crows on my walk home from work.
Where: About 500 were roosting around Spring Lake and another 300 were at Linden Yards
When: Monday, March 4, 2013
Observers: Abbie
Conditions: A snowy day, with predictions that by Tuesday morning, there might be 10 inches

What: A flock of about 25 Mallards repeatedly circling in low flight. I've seen this happen on other winter nights, even during remarkably strong winds. I think this is a communal roosting behavior, but it seems like a lot of energy to expend. What's going on that the ducks are compelled to fly around and around before settling for the night?
Where: North edge of Theodore Wirth Park
When: Thursday, March 7, just before 6 and before sunset
Observers: Abbie

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Count Every Bird, Every Bird Counts

I'm bundled up, ready for the Great Backyard Bird Count, and thinking of my dad's motto:
"Count every bird. Every bird counts."
And on that subject, here's a helpful article written by the team at eBird: "Counting Birds 101".