Henderson Feathers Report 3/28/23

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub.

What is it about sighting a chipmunk
that gladdens one’s heart compared to spotting a skunk on the trail camera; or noting a dandelion compared to first buds of spring bulbs…tulips, narcissus, daffodils? Is it our early conditioning that makes the difference???
Yet for many, this has been and is a most irregular and frustrating first week of spring, 2023. Explosive aurora borealis almost overhead, rivers of rain and snow in western United States, killer tornadoes in the south giving rise to memories of the Comfrey/St. Peter tornado…. of twenty-five years ago this month. Those who were part of the destruction so near to Henderson/LeSueur empathize with the folks upon whom disaster descended upending lives and property in southern states. One wishes to be thankful for the sunshine and mitigation of our monster snow piles, appreciating each day of somewhat normalcy.

“Normal” hasn’t arrived yet. Nature seems turned about with many anticipated events on back-log. For instance, the weeks of March 20 through 30 often brought hordes of migrating bald eagles through the area, numbers like 70, 40, and even 128 ‘baldies’ on a particular spring day. In 2019, hundreds of tundra swans were pulsing the airways on March 30th, while flood waters had reached the middle of Highway #93
with Canada geese parked in the middle of the highway. Highway # 8, was experiencing rushing water mid-point from LeSueur to Hwy 169. In the avian world, robins were building nests, bluebirds were perched on their snug houses, and woodcocks ‘peented’ lovelorn sweet nothings from area meadows.

Leap to March, 2023. Although snow is or has diminished, nature is lagging behind our wishes. Tid-bits: First sighting of a pair of bluebirds, March 26th, Pumpkin Hill Road, chipmunk above ground same date; horned lark numbers down considerably, heading for northwestern prairies; red-winged male blackbirds have dispersed into small flocks, dropping into Henderson and LeSueur bird feeding stations, along with bands of male grackles, Surprise! Vultures in pairs drifting above country woodlands; many emaciated wild turkeys in open fields and close to woodlots searching for whatever they can find; scrawny white-tailed deer in alfalfa fields, searching, searching.

Although Vern Bienfang found duck eggs on March 8th, a lone goose egg occupied the poultry yard on March 25th, weeks late, while no turkey hens have given up eggs for this year’s generation. Sandhill cranes returned to former 2022 nesting spots at St. Thomas, Jordan and Jessenland only to find the marshes ice-laden and snow covered. A pair of friends drove to Red Wing March 26th to see the annual gathering of eagles, just one was spotted while at the Eagle Center.

Missing in aerial action fourth week of March…. Tundra swans traveling by the hundreds close to or in the clouds, announcing their heavenly presence with distinctive bell-like calls; male timberdoodles (woodcocks) ‘whinnying’ on river valley meadows at sundown, inviting their female friends earthward for midnight trysts; waterfowl waiting anxiously for ice-clad ponds and lakes to thaw in order that they might begin spring mating rituals ; finally, many species of migrating birds await a meal of Insects. Did you think we’d ever be happy to see a mosquito or no-see-um? Next week: The case of the diseased bald eagle.
Last edited by Jeff Steinborn; 03/30/23 11:17 AM.