Colorful and Unexpected Numbers of Birds Arrive

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub,

“Birds know clouds first hand as they partner with wind currents to own the air much more than do metallic tubes of packaged people. Such airplanes fly with clouds on predetermined journeys with much hoopla at their beginning and end. Birds, who fly free, wonder why.” Quote is from that of a poem, “When I See a Bird” composed by the late Larry Granger, planter of myriad seed ideas throughout southern Minnesota and especially in the Henderson area.

From Larry’s perch wherever, he would have been enthralled with the 2022 rain of color experienced by birding earthlings the past two weeks. Feathered creatures seemed to be held back from usual local arrival by the daily dose of inexhaustible northwest winds. Perhaps the recent feathered influx resulted in a dearth of energy in the form of edible insects? With few exceptions, birds of forest fumed and fussed due to lack of food, and when the sun finally appeared to release insectivores from their winter jail cells, famished birdlings dropped from the skies in copious numbers. Unheard of flocks of indigo buntings and northern orioles jammed local feeding stations, apparently famished as a result of the long trip. Birders are currently gasping as they behold myriad numbers, especially those of scarlet tanagers.
Normally a creature of deep Minnesota forests, driven by hunger, people who have never experienced the glorious vivid red splendor of such creatures gasp when they appear at suet blocks alongside chickadees, house finches, and members of the woodpecker family, plus occasional red-bellied and pileated family members. There lies the danger! House finch numbers have been decimated in past years by an eye infection which results in blindness. (Conjunctivities) If one chooses to feed birds, great care must be taken regarding sanitary conditions.

Henderson’s Leo Berger shared that the trumpeter swan nest west of Highway #6 and near the Flynn Hill has survived one more day in the floodplain. Through the valiant efforts of the summer resident female swan (pen) and Sylvia swan at the Coachlight Pond, two nests have been spared thus far. As the flood waters have crept upward into the nests, the females have dredged mud and reeds upward onto their muskrat hump abodes, in a valiant attempt to save egg treasures. Males (cobs) stand guard, but seem to lack knowledge of nest preservation. Their skill seems to be that of guard duty.

Muddy flood waters from west and northwest fill the valley floor and cause havoc among bird and animal species. Weekend of May 22nd was particularly harsh. In an eight mile stretch of area highways one could count cadavers of a young black squirrel, a huge beaver, a yearling white-tailed deer, numerous raccoons, an opossum and an owl. To top it off, a scattered pile of gray feathers was all that remained of a Canada goose on the shore of Bucks’ Lake. Eagles and vultures must believe they are in epicurial heaven.

Of course, nest building is in full swing. When forest birds arrived at last, they found the trees stark naked, nests exposed to weather elements plus hungry predators. Welcome sunshine brought ample foliage. Currently ‘missing in action,’ are cliff swallows building under bridges at Blakeley, Henderson , LeSueur and other apertures. Insect hatch will change that situation. “To see most birds, you lift your eyes upward as you do in prayer or looking at night for the moon. But the one who created the moon is watching birds and you. Just let your eyes meet.” Thanks, Larry Granger.