Milkweed seed is on the wind. During World War II, these silky seeds were used in life vests and flight suits.

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Milkweed seed is on the wind. During World War II, these silky seeds were used in life vests and flight suits.

 Harmless flower flies are good at mimicking bees or wasps.

Harmless flower flies are good at mimicking bees or wasps.

 Harmless flower flies are good at mimicking bees or wasps.

Harmless flower flies are good at mimicking bees or wasps.

 New England aster. The “petals” are each an individual flower called a ray flower. In the center of the head is another kind of flower, called a tube flower.

New England aster. The “petals” are each an individual flower called a ray flower. In the center of the head is another kind of flower, called a tube flower.

 New England asters are a late season favorites of butterflies.

New England asters are a late season favorites of butterflies.

 Large milkweed bugs prefer to feed on common milkweed, but will feed on related species.

Large milkweed bugs prefer to feed on common milkweed, but will feed on related species.

 Milkweed bug nymphs.

Milkweed bug nymphs.

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Sumac tries on some red colors for fall.

 It’s that time of the year when the pavement begins to leaf out

It’s that time of the year when the pavement begins to leaf out

No goose is an island. It takes a coot, too.

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 The gray catbird is a fine looking bird that guards my raspberry patch each year and tries to keep me away from it.

The gray catbird is a fine looking bird that guards my raspberry patch each year and tries to keep me away from it.

 Crane flies may look like giant mosquitoes, but they don’t bite.

Crane flies may look like giant mosquitoes, but they don’t bite.

 A yellow-rumpled warbler found comfort with the dandelions.

A yellow-rumpled warbler found comfort with the dandelions.

 An American redstart dances amongst the twigs.

An American redstart dances amongst the twigs.

 This lesser yellowlegs seemed narcissistic.

This lesser yellowlegs seemed narcissistic.

Most rooster pheasants are named Phil.

Al Batt: Results from bird surveys show increase from last year, still low

by Al Batt, albertleatribune.comSeptember 15, 2018 11:00 AM

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I put new license tabs on my truck. It seems to run better. I remember when my neighbor Still Bill, he’s the Midwest distributor for inertia, and I were in the Boy Scouts. One day, we learned how to rub two sticks together to start a fire.“

“Still Bill did that?” I say.

“He tried, but he didn’t put much time into the effort. He’d gotten so warm from rubbing the sticks together that he didn’t need a fire. Still Bill has talked me into drinking cod liver oil every morning. He says it builds resistance.”

“To what?” I ask.

“To ever drinking it again after I get this bottle emptied. My neighbor, Crying Charlie, was in the troop with us. I saw Charlie when I took Pop to the clinic to get his attitude adjusted. Crying Charlie has a case of the worse.”

“The worse?” I say.

“Yes, if you have a bad cold, Charlie has pneumonia. Whatever anyone else has, Crying Charlie has it worse.”

Naturally

I’ve seen few pheasant chicks this summer, but the Minnesota DNR’s 2018 roadside survey for pheasants showed a 19 percent increase from 2017. That’s 52 percent below the long-term average. Weather and habitat are the two main factors driving Minnesota’s pheasant population trends. Gray partridge numbers were similar to 2017, but 50 percent below the 10-year average and 93 percent below the long-term average. The mourning dove population decreased 7 percent from 2017, remaining below both the 10-year average and long-term averages. Cottontail rabbits decreased by 23 percent from 2017, but were 13 percent above the 10-year average and similar to the long-term average. The white-tailed jackrabbit count was near last year’s and historically low. The white-tailed deer index declined 13 percent from 2017, but was 19 percent above the 10-year average and 99 percent above the long-term average.

Paper wasps were numerous on the goldenrod plants. A honey bee followed me into the house. I opened a window and it flew back out in less time than it took me to close the window.

I was at a pleasing Plowing Bee at May Farm near St. Clair where many nice people had gathered. I spotted a gray tree frog that was greener than the milkweed leaf it was perched upon. This frog is variable in color with an ability to camouflage itself in shades of gray to green, depending on the substrate where it’s situated. Common green darner dragonflies (devil’s darning needles,” “snake doctors,” or “mosquito-hawks) were here and there and there and here at May Farm. This large dragonfly migrates south.

I also saw a number of native bees, which the honey bee isn’t. A bee nest box makes a great gift for gardeners or nature lovers. Many of our native bee species are solitary and effective pollinators. In order to ensure that these bees spend more time in our yards and gardens, they need places to nest. Mason bees and leaf-cutting bees are among those that utilize holes and you can provide nesting space for them by building a nest box and filling it with straws or drilling holes into a block of wood. Different bee species utilize holes of different diameters, so include a variety of sizes. A simple box can be made from a cardboard milk carton, salty snack tube, etc. filled with tubes made from straws, wood, bamboo, plant stems, etc. Boxes can be purchased and plans are available online.

Q&A

Rachel Depuydt of Eagle Lake asked what the difference was between a frog and a toad. They’re not easy to distinguish. Most frogs have long legs and smooth skins covered in mucus. Toads typically have shorter legs and rougher, thicker skins. Toads generally find their way into gardens and yards more than frogs. Frog eggs are found in a mass while toad eggs are in a chain. I was taught that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads.

Karen Wright of Mankato asked what butterflies do in the rain. They try to avoid it. Butterflies hide when it rains — under large leaves, in tangled thickets, in dense vegetation, under rocks, in grass or bushes, or anywhere else that would intercept the raindrops.

Thanks for stopping by

“If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.“ — Robert Fulghum

“It is not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” — Henry David Thoreau

Do good.

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A yellow woolly bear caterpillar. Its goal is to one day become a Virginia tiger moth.

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 A peacock is a male peafowl. The female is a peahen. Our peafowl used to stalk our auxiliary dog.

A peacock is a male peafowl. The female is a peahen. Our peafowl used to stalk our auxiliary dog.

 A pearl guinea fowl sounds as if it is calling, “Quebec! Quebec! Quebec!”

A pearl guinea fowl sounds as if it is calling, “Quebec! Quebec! Quebec!”

 Not long ago, I was getting an IV. What was I thinking about during that time? I was daydreaming of walking past a wall of ivy.

Not long ago, I was getting an IV. What was I thinking about during that time? I was daydreaming of walking past a wall of ivy.

 A western leaf-footed bug on a pomegranate on Bouldin Island in California.

A western leaf-footed bug on a pomegranate on Bouldin Island in California.

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 Olaf Haraldsson, Saint Olaf, is the patron saint of Norway. St. Olaf Cemetery is a peaceful place in Waseca County, in Minnesota.

Olaf Haraldsson, Saint Olaf, is the patron saint of Norway. St. Olaf Cemetery is a peaceful place in Waseca County, in Minnesota.

 I cannot imagine the stories Henry Otto Hagen had to tell.  From St. Olaf Cemetery.

I cannot imagine the stories Henry Otto Hagen had to tell.

From St. Olaf Cemetery.

 These grapes will soon have a lot to wine about.  Napa Valley Merlot.

These grapes will soon have a lot to wine about.

Napa Valley Merlot.

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 A white-crested polish chicken in need of a dab of Brylcreem.

A white-crested polish chicken in need of a dab of Brylcreem.

 This is not a scapegoat. This is the kind of goat that blames the photographer.

This is not a scapegoat. This is the kind of goat that blames the photographer.

Families that fish together are American white pelicans.

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 The pelican in the rear eats between meals.

The pelican in the rear eats between meals.

 If each bird called out its name as the killdeer does, birding would be much easier.

If each bird called out its name as the killdeer does, birding would be much easier.

 A mining bee taking a break from all that mining.

A mining bee taking a break from all that mining.

 I walked past the Wrigley Building in Chicago, but I was unable to do it while chewing gum.

I walked past the Wrigley Building in Chicago, but I was unable to do it while chewing gum.

The female indigo bunting is lovely and lacking the blues.

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 This female American goldfinch eats seeds almost exclusively.

This female American goldfinch eats seeds almost exclusively.

 I encountered this western fence lizard on a fence in Napa, California.

I encountered this western fence lizard on a fence in Napa, California.

 This tiny California poppy, like a kind word, casts a long shadow.

This tiny California poppy, like a kind word, casts a long shadow.

 The goldfinch’s flight call is “po-ta-to-chip.”

The goldfinch’s flight call is “po-ta-to-chip.”

 An elegant shorebird is the American avocet. It enjoys dining on brine shrimp.

An elegant shorebird is the American avocet. It enjoys dining on brine shrimp.

 I love talking about nature with good-natured folks.  Photo by Dana Melius

I love talking about nature with good-natured folks.

Photo by Dana Melius

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The honey bees have assumed control of the hummingbird feeder.

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It may look like your brother-in-law, but it’s a Maroni chestnut tree.

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I moseyed among the Merlot at the Meritage in Napa, California.

There is probably a story here.

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 A katydid sings a song of summer’s end.

A katydid sings a song of summer’s end.

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I suspect this is a shaggy parasol mushroom. Whatever it is, it is lovely.

 The common whitetail is a dragonfly that primarily perches on the ground.

The common whitetail is a dragonfly that primarily perches on the ground.

 Breeding male ruddy ducks have sky-blue bills.

Breeding male ruddy ducks have sky-blue bills.

 The song sparrow is a persistent and lovely singer. A mnemonic for its song is “maids, maids, maids, put on your tea kettle-kettle-kettle.”

The song sparrow is a persistent and lovely singer. A mnemonic for its song is “maids, maids, maids, put on your tea kettle-kettle-kettle.”

 They are waiting for the blue jay to arrive.

They are waiting for the blue jay to arrive.

 Jammed up and jelly alight.

Jammed up and jelly alight.

 This leucistic American robin tried to hide from me in Rapidan, Minnesota.

This leucistic American robin tried to hide from me in Rapidan, Minnesota.

 The eye of a double-crested cormorant is aquamarine in color.

The eye of a double-crested cormorant is aquamarine in color.

A green lacewing is an important predator of aphids.

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This nest box for bees is being well used.

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 a common yellowthroat kept his eyes on me this summer.

a common yellowthroat kept his eyes on me this summer.

 Gordon and Goldie enjoy a meal as Godfrey waits patiently for his mate to arrive.

Gordon and Goldie enjoy a meal as Godfrey waits patiently for his mate to arrive.

 Mr. Toad of the American Toad Hall.

Mr. Toad of the American Toad Hall.

 This one-legged Baltimore oriole gets its kicks at a jelly feeder.

This one-legged Baltimore oriole gets its kicks at a jelly feeder.

 This red fox, a taxidermist’s work displayed at a county fair, shows its diagnostic white-tipped tail.

This red fox, a taxidermist’s work displayed at a county fair, shows its diagnostic white-tipped tail.

 Rabbit’s foot clover seen at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Rabbit’s foot clover seen at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

 Tick trefoil at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Tick trefoil at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

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The butterfly weed had a lot of customers.

 Did you know that 26.6% of Minnesotans are without dental insurance?

Did you know that 26.6% of Minnesotans are without dental insurance?

Argiope

Al Batt: Messages in garden webs come from Argiope or ‘writing’ spider

by Al Batt, albertleatribune.comSeptember 8, 2018 09:00 AM

Nature’s World by Al Batt

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. My neighbor Weasel rode along with me to an important meeting in a big city. My neighbor Still Bill was going to come along, too, but he has an enlarged procrastinate. It was like beating my head against a dead horse to get him moving, so Weasel and I left him home. I decided to splurge by eating in a fancy restaurant. It’s a good thing Still Bill, he makes more dust than miles, wasn’t with us because he says “gawrsh” instead of “gosh.” That would have embarrassed us to no end. It was the Pelican Club, named for the size of its bills. The headwaiter gave us a dirty look because we weren’t wearing dinner jackets. I thought a dinner jacket was the skin on a baked potato. Weasel barely survived looking at the menu. It jarred his preserves. He’s so cheap, he can’t open his hands far enough to get gloves on. His wallet is on a bigger chain than his dog is. Weasel doesn’t believe in impulse buying. He believes in impulse banking. Weasel and I went to church Sunday morning. The minister said in his sermon that every man, woman and child in the congregation would die one day. That made me smile.”

“That’s terrible! Why did that make you smile?“ I say.

“Because I wasn’t a member of that congregation.”

Naturally

The next season is always just around the corner.

Rain fell. Waseca set the official state annual precipitation record in 2016 with a total of 56.24 inches, 63 percent of which fell between July and September.

Young animals are out and moving about. Some become roadkill before they discover that cars can be cold-hearted.

I saw no young robins in the yard. Baby robins are unable to fly well when they leave the nest. They must build muscles and grow adult feathers to be capable fliers and that takes time after fledging. Their spotted breasts and other camouflage markings help hide them from predators. They are skilled at blending in with their environment. Robins typically have two broods a year with both parents feeding the youngsters. About a quarter of those that fledge survive to November. About half of those birds survive to the next year.

I noticed some abnormal molts on birds in the yard — two bald blue jays and a bald cardinal. Barn swallows sliced the air, feeding upon swarming ants. The barn swallow is a Neotropical migrant. It travels south in flocks to winter in Mexico, Central America and South America. It travels by day, eating as it flies. It travels as many as 600 miles a day.

Q&A

Bonita Underbakke of Lanesboro and Rod Meyer of Mankato each asked the identity of a beautiful black and yellow spider that appears to be trying to write a novel in its web. It’s an Argiope (ar-JYE-o-pee) or black-and-yellow garden spider. It’s also called a yellow garden spider, a signature spider or writing spider. It’s an orb weaver. They are typically found in late summer in the center of large, roundish webs. The spider’s large web often has an area in a zigzag pattern, called astabilimentum, which resembles dental floss. The purpose for this is up for conjecture, but is thought to provide camouflage for the spider, attract flying insect prey by reflecting ultraviolet light or is a warning to birds to avoid the web. There is much folklore as to what the spider is trying to write. As with many spiders, the female is much larger that the male. She has a body measuring about an inch long and, including their legs, can be several inches in length.

“Where do wasps overwinter?” The only wasps that live over the winter are the queens. The other wasps perish with the onset of cold weather. In the fall, the queens find refuge in protected sites in and around the home and landscape, such as under a rock or tree bark. The wasps that survive the winter are fertilized queens that will build a new nest and colony from scratch.

Thanks for stopping by

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later. Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.” — President Richard Nixon’s 1970 State of the Union message to Congress

“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” — Henry David Thoreau

Do good.

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

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Notice the pollen-collecting hairs on the hind legs of this long-horned bee. They look like a cowboy’s wooly chaps.

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 An assassin bug is a stealthy hunter.

An assassin bug is a stealthy hunter.

 He started out giving stump speeches on behalf of politicians, but it wasn’t long before he was out on a limb himself.

He started out giving stump speeches on behalf of politicians, but it wasn’t long before he was out on a limb himself.

 An assassin bug plays freeze tag with a bee.

An assassin bug plays freeze tag with a bee.

  “I see you, but I wouldn’t want to bee you,” said the ambush bug.

 “I see you, but I wouldn’t want to bee you,” said the ambush bug.

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Jack-in-the-pulpit. Jack has left, but the remaining leaves encourage the reddening berries.

 This signals the end of the feeding-the-orioles-grape-jelly season. The honey bees have assumed control.

This signals the end of the feeding-the-orioles-grape-jelly season. The honey bees have assumed control.

 A monarch on the rocks. Please hold the ice for a long time.

A monarch on the rocks. Please hold the ice for a long time.

  “It was me, but I really didn’t think anyone would miss those yellow pear tomatoes. Honest.”

 “It was me, but I really didn’t think anyone would miss those yellow pear tomatoes. Honest.”

As the election nears, everyone is stumping.

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 The Baltimore oriole was named because of its similarity to the colors on the heraldic crest of Lord Baltimore.

The Baltimore oriole was named because of its similarity to the colors on the heraldic crest of Lord Baltimore.

 The modern day Lord Baltimore loves grape jelly.

The modern day Lord Baltimore loves grape jelly.

 I love plants with plenty of insect appeal, like this swamp milkweed.

I love plants with plenty of insect appeal, like this swamp milkweed.

 I sometimes think of aphids as ant cows, but these oleander aphids, which apparently love swamp milkweed, don’t spend much time being farmed by ants.

I sometimes think of aphids as ant cows, but these oleander aphids, which apparently love swamp milkweed, don’t spend much time being farmed by ants.

 A jagged ambush bug waits in, what else, ambush to prey upon unwary insects.

A jagged ambush bug waits in, what else, ambush to prey upon unwary insects.

Trees learning to defend themselves against beavers.

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As egrets go, it was a great one.

 In Waseca County, Minnesota. The lone gravestone marks the final resting place of Cassie A. Swartwout.

In Waseca County, Minnesota. The lone gravestone marks the final resting place of Cassie A. Swartwout.

 Goldenrod receives blame for hay fever suffering, but is innocent. It’s pollinated by insects, not wind. It blooms at the same time as does the major culprit, ragweed.

Goldenrod receives blame for hay fever suffering, but is innocent. It’s pollinated by insects, not wind. It blooms at the same time as does the major culprit, ragweed.

 Giant ragweed with its inconspicuous greenish flowers is wind pollinated and the bane of hay fever sufferers,

Giant ragweed with its inconspicuous greenish flowers is wind pollinated and the bane of hay fever sufferers,

 This rose-breasted grosbeak may appear bloodthirsty, but it’s been eating jelly.

This rose-breasted grosbeak may appear bloodthirsty, but it’s been eating jelly.

 Native American lore holds that if you see a cardinal, you can expect good luck in 12 hours or 12 days.

Native American lore holds that if you see a cardinal, you can expect good luck in 12 hours or 12 days.

 The Baltimore oriole is a beacon of the backyard.

The Baltimore oriole is a beacon of the backyard.

 A turkey vulture in the midst of an aerial ballet.

A turkey vulture in the midst of an aerial ballet.

  “A wonderful bird is the Pelican.  His beak can hold more than his belly can.  He can hold in his beak  Enough food for a week!  But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican?”  ― Dixon Lanier Merritt

 “A wonderful bird is the Pelican.

His beak can hold more than his belly can.

He can hold in his beak

Enough food for a week!

But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican?”

― Dixon Lanier Merritt

It was 4:43 a.m. on June 16 and I was happy to be there.

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 This flying checkerboard is welcome in our yard any time.

This flying checkerboard is welcome in our yard any time.

 Hermosa mariposa. A painted lady.

Hermosa mariposa. A painted lady.

 I spent a beautiful part of a May day watching a cliff swallow building a cliff.

I spent a beautiful part of a May day watching a cliff swallow building a cliff.

  “Snakes in the Trees” now showing at the local Catalpa Theater.

 “Snakes in the Trees” now showing at the local Catalpa Theater.

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A female common merganser. A sawbill.

 The gray catbird mimics cats, Rich Little, and Frank Caliendo.

The gray catbird mimics cats, Rich Little, and Frank Caliendo.

Devil’s Lake, located in North Dakota, is a body of water that devours land like a carpet bagger.

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 The American bison is big, but quick on its feet. Think of a second baseman or a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant who tips the scales at a ton.

The American bison is big, but quick on its feet. Think of a second baseman or a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant who tips the scales at a ton.

 An empty monarch butterfly chrysalis left pleasant memories.

An empty monarch butterfly chrysalis left pleasant memories.

 The name red admiral is a corruption of the “red admirable” moniker given to this butterfly by early naturalists. Perhaps it should have been the “orange admirable.”

The name red admiral is a corruption of the “red admirable” moniker given to this butterfly by early naturalists. Perhaps it should have been the “orange admirable.”

 In my adolescence, which refuses to end, I called the chipping sparrow a “hair sparrow” for its habit of using animal hair in its nest.

In my adolescence, which refuses to end, I called the chipping sparrow a “hair sparrow” for its habit of using animal hair in its nest.

 The Nicobar pigeon, said to be one of the closest living relatives of the dodo, can be found on the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean and at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas.

The Nicobar pigeon, said to be one of the closest living relatives of the dodo, can be found on the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean and at the Topeka Zoo in Kansas.

 The North American Butterfly Association says, “If we can save butterflies, we can save ourselves.”

The North American Butterfly Association says, “If we can save butterflies, we can save ourselves.”

Al Batt: Unless fish wear collars, count in eagle nests an internet legend

By Al Batt

Email the author

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 25, 2018You have read 2 of 10 articles.

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?“ I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I want you to know that you can borrow your lawn mower anytime you need it. Just put it back where you found it. Movies have become too loud for me. I wear earplugs when I go into a theater. My uncle Clarence stopped by. He was soaked. He wanted to clean out the inside of his car, so he went through the car wash with the windows down. Clarence doesn’t have all his teeth. When he loses one, he divides its duties among the remaining teeth. That’s OK. I think those with the fewest teeth have the most stories to tell. Watching him eat sweet corn is awesome sauce. He was quite a farmer. He got that from my grandfather. One year, the wind blew a cornstalk down and it totally demolished Grandpa’s house. He used to hitch his parked horses to a single alfalfa plant. His worst year was when the grasshoppers ate his barbed wire fence. Clarence loves the outdoors. That’s why he goes in the ‘out‘ doors whenever possible.”

Naturally

The flowers were cheerful. The day was hot. I’m like most people — I’ll yield, maybe hold a bag of frozen peas to my neck, but I’ll not succumb to the heat.

Grape jelly feeders were still busy with Baltimore orioles. Birds are in a hurry as the local nesting season is compressed for our Neotropical migrants.

I saw a female cicada killer wasp. She was about 1 1/2 inches long. I wasn’t worried. Had I been a cicada, I’d have been worried.

Cooper’s hawks nest here, beginning their breeding season in the spring. They build nests of sticks lined with bark and green twigs located 25 to 50 feet high in a tree. She lays two to six eggs that hatch in 30 to 36 days. The young leave the nest after 27 to 34 days. The parents continue to feed and protect the fledglings until they learn to survive on their own at about 8 weeks of age.

A ruby-throated hummingbird buzzed by my beak. He probably weighed 0.1 ounce. About 1,000 to 1,500 of that being feathers, although one old study showed 940 feathers. That may not sound like many, but it’s more than I have.

Q&A

“What birds eat Japanese beetles?” I’ve never seen a bird eat one, but starlings, robins, cardinals, catbirds, grackles, meadowlarks, pheasants, chickens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl are purported to feed on the beetles.

“When do trumpeter swan cygnets begin the fly?“ It’s usually around 15 weeks, somewhere between 90 and 122 days after hatching.

A Mankato resident asked how long a cicada sings. The annual cicada (also called a dog-day cicada, harvest fly, jar fly and incorrectly a locust) produces a high-pitched, buzzy whine that reminds some of an electric saw. That’s why few people use cicada calls as ringtones on cellphones. This call hits 100 decibels, lasts up to 15 seconds and can be heard a quarter mile away.

“Someone told me that they found 27 dog collars in a bald eagle nest. Is this true?” Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. It’s an internet legend claimed to have happened in many locations. If fish wore collars, it might be true. This isn’t to say that an eagle wouldn’t be capable of harming a small dog.

“How can I make it so smaller birds get to feed at the trough instead of grackles?” You could label the feeders accordingly, switch to safflowers, use hanging feeders with small perches that make it difficult for grackles to find foothold or cage the feeder with holes too small for grackles to get through.

“Why do mourning dove wings whistle when they fly from the ground?” A can of WD-40 would cure that. When mourning doves take flight, the tips of their flight feathers vibrate, causing the whistling sound. This isn’t uncommon in birds.

“Why am I seeing only male goldfinches at my feeder?” Goldfinches usually start nesting in July. They are getting food to bring to the females sitting on eggs. Males also bring food to the nestlings.

A Freeborn reader asked if they were mayflies or fishflies around Freeborn Lake. Some people call mayflies “fishflies.” A mayfly can be 2 inches long when including its cerci — appendages on the abdomen. Actual fishflies are usually an inch long and are related to Dobsonflies that can be 4 inches in length. Dobsonfly males have large mandibles. The insects I saw in great numbers at Arrowhead Point County Park were midges being eaten by cedar waxwings. Midges are delicate, mosquito-like insects 1/16 to 3/8 inch long. They’re gray, brown or green and don’t bite. The males have feathery antennae.

Thanks for stopping by

“Wisdom begins in wonder.” — Socrates

“May the gull of happiness follow you everywhere, without pooping on your head.” — Al Batt

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” — John W. Gardner

Do good.

 This hummingbird looked as if it had at least 942 feathers. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

This hummingbird looked as if it had at least 942 feathers. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

A young oriole considers leaving the scene that is Minnesota. Peak migration for the Baltimore oriole is August and September.

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 Dustin Demmer showed me these Sullivant’s milkweed plants, which hosted not only monarch butterfly caterpillars, but their chrysalises, too. They were near Clark’s Grove.

Dustin Demmer showed me these Sullivant’s milkweed plants, which hosted not only monarch butterfly caterpillars, but their chrysalises, too. They were near Clark’s Grove.

 Dustin Demmer grows meadow blazing star plants, much to the delight of monarch butterflies.

Dustin Demmer grows meadow blazing star plants, much to the delight of monarch butterflies.

 A monarch butterfly on a meadow blazing star.

A monarch butterfly on a meadow blazing star.

 A kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies on the Jerry Demmer Farm.

A kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies on the Jerry Demmer Farm.

 A kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies on the Jerry Demmer Farm.

A kaleidoscope of monarch butterflies on the Jerry Demmer Farm.

 Monarch butterfly demonstrating a human characteristic — loafing.

Monarch butterfly demonstrating a human characteristic — loafing.

 A littleleaf linden tree growing on the Mayo Clinic grounds in Albert Lea.

A littleleaf linden tree growing on the Mayo Clinic grounds in Albert Lea.

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