Tag Archives: birds

Fall Escapes to the North Woods

Have I mentioned lately how much I love camping? We packed up the car and headed north for some scamping, it was our first visit to Big Bog State Recreation Area.
grassy views

It’s right by Upper Red Lake, Red Lake is the largest freshwater lake located entirely within Minnesota.
lake at dusk

The air was alive with monarch butterflies.
monarch butterfly

And something far more sinister. We watched this female Northern Harrier hunting along the shoreline for quite some time.
northern harrier

Fortunately she didn’t see this little guy.

The days were breathtakingly beautiful.
fall trees

And so were the nights.

Remembering Septembers Past

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for a year now. That got me wondering, what was I doing at this time last year? I was tickled to see that almost to the day, I was in the middle of the hummingbird migration.

I sat on my back step for hours watching them come and go.

Our feeder is full and I’m waiting for their return.

Sunday in the Park with … Danny

Minnehaha Falls is one of the most popular parks in Minneapolis. It’s so busy in the summer that I usually avoid it, but I had to see my frozen waterfall thawed. It had to be marvelous right now if someone would actually take a kayak over it.

It was a beautiful morning, Danny and I took our time. We enjoyed the trees:

These shrubs that look like they are covered with stars:

The wildflowers blooming:

This Catbird gave us a private concert, he knew a lot of songs:

I wondered if this Song Sparrow felt like he had the world to himself:
song sparrow

My favorite park statue had me thinking about The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Hand in hand they went together, Through the woodland and the meadow….

And then I wondered what would compel a person to take a kayak over this?
minnehaha falls

To say that The Falls are raging right now would be an understatement:
minnehaha falls

It’s no wonder this park is one of our most popular with sights like these:
minnehaha falls

City of Angels?

I’m not sure about the angels, but I can tell you we found something else with wings: birds. This watering hole in Griffith Park seemed to be the life of the party:

spotted grosbeak
Spotted Grosbeak

You couldn’t take your eyes off it for a second or you’d miss something:

allen's hummingbird
Allen’s Hummingbird Photobomb

I couldn’t keep up with this Allen’s Hummingbird:
allen's hummingbird

There he is again!
allen's hummingbird

Then I realized he wasn’t alone:
allen's hummingbird

Birds of a feather flock together:


And it turns out, bathe together:

Almost always found in lively flocks, Bushtits move constantly.

If you get a little lonesome, all you have to do is call your friends:

And pretty soon you won’t be alone anymore:


There were big birds too. This stunning Cooper’s Hawk posed for a long time:
cooper's hawk

And this Red-tailed Hawk was intent on hunting:
redtail hawk

We even saw a baby, any guesses as to what he is? You should have seen him run!
baby bird

Memorial Moments

Memorial Day has a long history that began after the Civil War. Originally known as Decoration Day, the day was meant to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the war. It is now a federal holiday designated to remember all Americans who have died in service and many extend that beyond, decorating graves of loved ones who are no longer with us.

I visited the grave of my favorite veteran, my dad:grave with flowers

As always, the sea of headstones at Fort Snelling National Cemetery was a moving sight and a reminder that many loved ones have been lost over the years:fort snelling cemetery

The world seemed decorated in honor of the day:

Flowers were everywhere you looked:

Down to the dandelions:
female cardinal

And the birds in the trees:
male cardinal

Backyard Beauty

You don’t have to go far to find beauty, it’s in your own backyard. We can learn a lot from animals to make sure we don’t miss it.

Next time you’re outside, make sure you stop:

baltimore oriole
Baltimore Oriole


Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird


Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

And if you like what you see, don’t be shy about saying so:

Singing Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird

Minnesota Thaws

It’s hard to believe that just a month ago, Minnehaha Falls looked like this:
minnehaha falls

A quick stop over the weekend proved that spring really was here even though I was back in my winter jacket:
minnehaha falls

There was a cold wind was blowing, so I didn’t linger long:
minnehaha falls

But I had to get one last shot, can you see the buds on the trees?
minnehaha falls

Minnehaha Falls is fed by Minnehaha Creek, my favorite stomping ground:
minnehaha creek

We found this gentleman fishing. Great Blue Herons always make me think of little old men when they stand like this:

We kept moving, and found ourselves at Lake Hiawatha, there was still ice on the lake:
lake hiawatha

After a few minutes of shivering in the strong winds, we realized that we weren’t alone:
bald eagle

And neither was he:
juvenile bald eagle

Close Encounters

With 60 degree temperatures, we ignored all of our adult responsibilities and played outside on Sunday. We are five minutes from Fort Snelling State Park, the perfect place to go for a little fun in the sun:

After months (and months, and months) of searching, we finally saw our first owl! Unfortunately, the Barred Owl was on the hunt and I was so excited by it, there are no pictures. We did see more Cedar Waxwings and this handsome fellow struck a pose for me:

As novice birders, we get really jazzed about every new find. We spent a long time trying to identify this quiet bird who didn’t seem bothered by our antics. In the end, we decided it was the common Dark-Eyed Junco, a bird we are very familiar with but not from this angle:

There were a lot of water birds out. In addition to all of the usual suspects, we saw a Common Merganser:
common merganser

Did I mention there were deer?

Deer are a very common sight at Fort Snelling, but they always make us stop and stare:

And the most exotic animal of all, Danny sported his new spring hairdo and soaked up some sun himself. Still not approved by his vet for lengthy hikes, he showed us that even a walk around the neighborhood and some lounging in the backyard was a great way to spend a 60 degree Sunday:

Nature Studies: Birds

This is my final post in my photo series from the Minnesota Valley Nature Preserve, and it’s for the birds!

I don’t remember when my fascination with birds began, but I do remember watching David Attenborough’s LIFE OF BIRDS on PBS 15 years ago, eyes wide with wonder. Each week, I tuned in for the next episode of the nine-part series. That was before television had its digital transition, there was no such thing as TiVo or Netflix, and my internet connection was via dial-up. It’s hard to imagine that world anymore.

At the time, I was shocked by what I watched. Those amazing birds could be some nasty little buggers. But there is also beauty and endurance that you can’t imagine.

Now I look for birds all the time. Living in Minneapolis, I feel fortunate that there is such a wide variety – you just have to watch for them. Earlier this week, I saw an eagle roosting in a tree on my way home from work. Red-Tailed Hawks are a regular fixture on light poles along the freeway and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds went right through my yard on their migration last fall. I’m an equal opportunity observer with birds, the Black-Capped Chickadee is one of my favorites and Nuthatches make me laugh with the weird little sound they make. I hadn’t realized how many birds were in my urban backyard until I started to look, I encourage you to take some time to look yourself.

Here are some of my shots from the nature preserve:

We guessed that this was a juvenile bald eagle, are we right?

Incognito. (Black-Capped Chickadee)
Crow (and fish casualty)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
chickadee (1)
Black-Capped Chickadee
Brotherly love. (Male cardinals)


Wild Turkeys

And my personal favorite, the squirrel photo bomb:

Getting A Little Nutty

What? Martha Stewart doesn’t like bloggers? That’s fine, this blogger doesn’t like her fortune cookie recipe. My first pass at Valentine treats was a disaster, I ended up with a stack of fortunes and a mess of dough that looked like this:fortune_cookie

It was not a good thing. Fortunately, I know when to accept defeat, especially when the Valentine’s Day clock is running out. These little gems saved the day and were super simple to make, Cherry Bonbon Cookies:

Cherry Bonbon Cookies
There’s a maraschino cherry in the middle!

I got my little Valentine suited up for deliveries:

And we hit the road:

Afterwards, The Husband and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It was a crisp afternoon for a walk, but so beautiful:

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We seemed to be on the path most traveled:

And I was mesmerized by the birds:

Saturday we were up bright and early so we went to my FAVORITE breakfast location ever, Day by Day Cafe in St. Paul. The Husband had one of his top picks, “The Heart Stopper.” Just kidding, it was Biscuits & Gravy with Sausage Gravy:

The Husband's Biscuits & Gravy
The Husband’s Biscuits & Gravy

I had my favorite, The Earth Breakfast:

My Good Earth Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled in hashbrowns with onions with melted cheese (I added spinach, avocado and a side of salsa) - VEGETARIAN
My Earth Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled in hashbrowns with onions and melted cheese (I added spinach, avocado and a side of salsa) – VEGETARIAN

After my first taste of Nutella last weekend, I needed to follow the advice of a friend/reader who said it was a breeze to make. He was right! I whipped up a batch to give my own version of the Lake & Irving Nutella French Toast a try:


I used the recipe from The Splendid Table and it was gooooooooood but I almost burned my hazel nuts (aka: filberts) in the toasting process, so keep an eye on them when you make your own. Also, the comments on this recipe are correct, it will harden overnight – I softened mine in the microwave. The Nutella was so simple, I tried my hand at whipping up some peanut butter at the same time:


The peanut butter was good but a bit bland. I used 1 cup of dry roasted peanuts (no salt) and then added a little bit of olive oil for smoothness. Perhaps it will grow on me if I forget how much I love the taste of Skippy Natural?

Now, I really prefer a savory breakfast but I must say… my Nutella French Toast was fantastic. I added fresh strawberry puree and bananas. The fruit added a bright flavor to all of the chocolatey sweetness, The Husband took a classic approach and ate his with maple syrup. I’m telling you, it attracted attention:

Even Cleo wanted a bite.
Cleo is moving in for a bite.

Sunday I slaved away on my dress and finally won the war against jersey. I can’t wait to start my next pattern, I already have one in mind. I’ll be dressing Matilda up for a fashion show later this week.

The hard work sewing had me hungry for a veggie burger. We stopped in at The Blue Door in Longfellow for dinner. It was good, but I have a hard time being happy with a veggie burger when it doesn’t include some form of avocado on top – I’ll take traditional or guacamole:

Raptors in Motion

great horned owl

I have been thinking about the raptors from the Minnesota Raptor Center photography class all week and started playing with photo animation. This was a fun way to visualize some of the moments we captured, though they were nothing compared to the majesty of these birds in person.

American Kestral

american kestral

Bald Eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

The Great Horned Owl

great horned owl great horned own