A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a striking bird. Both male and female of this species are lovely singers.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a striking bird. Both male and female of this species are lovely singers.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a striking bird. Both male and female of this species are lovely singers.

I’m hoping this baby American Toad grows up to be a prodigious eater of slugs.

I’m hoping this baby American Toad grows up to be a prodigious eater of slugs.

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak male has the magic to turn a normal person into a birder.

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak male has the magic to turn a normal person into a birder.

Book about national emblem to benefit eagle center in Wabasha

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. The local college

just announced the results of a scientific study it had performed. Their research found that out of 2,293,618,367 people, 94% are too lazy to actually read that number.”

Naturally

I walked while having a heated argument with the temperature and inciting conflict with biting insects. An unseen skunk held me smellbound.

I watched soaring turkey vultures. A vulture’s heart rate when soaring is about the same as it is when the bird is sleeping. A half-dozen blackbirds hammered upon a Cooper’s hawk. There was no movie on that flight.

Earwigs star in folklore claiming they will crawl into your ear and lay eggs. They don’t. Earwigs eat pests like aphids, mites and nematodes. They will chew on ornamental and vegetable plants, particularly dahlias, zinnias, hollyhocks, lettuce, strawberries, potatoes, roses, beans, beets and the silk of sweet corn. They are preyed upon by tachinid flies, centipedes, toads and some birds.

‘American Eagle: A Visual History of Our National Emblem’

Preston Cook of Wabasha donated over 25,000 items, depicting eagles in culture, politics and history, from his collection to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. How does one get started in collecting things portraying eagles, which have been used to advertise everything from mattresses, underwear, cornflakes and embalming fluid? Preston saw a movie, “A Thousand Clowns,” in which Murray Burns, played by Jason Robards, said, “You can never have too many eagles.”

Preston took that as a challenge. All proceeds from the sales of Preston’s book, “American Eagle: A Visual History of Our National Emblem,” will be donated to the National Eagle Center.

Q&A

“Do lightning bugs continue to flash when a thunderstorm is producing lightning?” They do, fireflies don’t fear flashy competition.

Maren Ring of Albert Lea asked if catbirds mate for life. They are essentially monogamous during the breeding season, but pair bonds don’t necessarily persist from one year to the next.

“What would puncture eggs in a nest?” There are many suspects: house wren, brown-headed cowbird, house sparrow, red-headed woodpecker, gray catbird and others. There are many animals that eat bird eggs: crows, jays, magpies, grackles, squirrels, humans, snakes, raccoons, weasels, deer, skunks, cats and those dreaded others once again.

Norm Fredin of Albert Lea asked about the nesting habits of house wrens. When it comes time to nest, wrens search out cavities. If you hang several nest boxes, a male will prepare a number of potential nests for a female’s consideration, stuffing available cavities with twigs. She chooses one and finishes the nest herself, a cup-shaped depression built atop the twigs, lined with softer material including fine grasses, hair, moss or bits of string and debris. The female lays 3-10 eggs and she alone incubates them. The young hatch in 9-16 days and fledge in 15-17 days. They often have two broods.

Gordy Toenges of Alden asked why we have more vultures than in the past. Edward Abbey wrote of the turkey vulture, “Let us praise the noble turkey vulture: no one envies him; he harms nobody; and he contemplates our little world from a most serene and noble height.” Abbey also penned, “If my decomposing carcass nourishes the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture — that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.” A friend, Bob Janssen, has visited 1,836 cities, towns and villages in Minnesota while birding and has counted at least 225 bird species in all of Minnesota’s 87 counties. His favorite bird is the turkey vulture. Mary Oliver wrote, “Like large dark lazy butterflies they sweep over the glades looking for death, to eat it, to make it vanish, to make of it the miracle: resurrection.”

Several accounts from the late 1800s indicated vultures were locally abundant throughout many parts of Minnesota. T.S. Roberts, a physician known for his ornithological work, wrote this about the turkey vulture in 1932, “was formerly more common in Minnesota” and “still to be seen in fair numbers throughout the state.” Increases in human settlement, expanded agriculture, human disturbance and human persecution all likely contributed to this decline. Turkey vultures are seen in every county in Minnesota. The growth in its range and population is attributed to expanded road miles, increased deer populations, openings created by logging activity and warming temperatures. These changes facilitated movement, provided a steady supply of carrion for food and increased survival of vultures.

“How many pines are there in Minnesota?” The native pines are eastern white pine, jack pine, red pine (Norway pine) and porcupine.

Thanks  
for stopping by

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” — Jonathan Swift

“There are no persons capable of stooping so low as those who desire to rise in the world.” — Lady Marguerite Blessington

Do good.

(C) Al Batt 2019

A red-winged blackbird is a feisty fellow, more than willing to attack a larger bird. This one was taking a lunch break from being feisty. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

A red-winged blackbird is a feisty fellow, more than willing to attack a larger bird. This one was taking a lunch break from being feisty. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

Is a group of rose-breasted grosbeaks known as a gross?

Is a group of rose-breasted grosbeaks known as a gross?

Is a group of rose-breasted grosbeaks known as a gross?

There have been no Song Sparrows singing in my yard this year. I don’t recall that ever being the case before during my long history of springs and summers. I miss their uplifting songs. My garden struggles without their company.

There have been no Song Sparrows singing in my yard this year. I don’t recall that ever being the case before during my long history of springs and summers. I miss their uplifting songs. My garden struggles without their company.

This year’s breeding bird survey tallies many red-winged blackbirds

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I’ve been helping Pop in his shop. Pop puts a tiny wood stove in each of the wren houses he builds so the birds won’t have to fly south. He hasn’t moved to the digital world. He thinks Wikipedia has two wheels, but he loves books. Pop starts reading a book in the middle so he not only wonders how the book ends, he wonders how it began. I had to take a nap after an exhausting game of dominoes with him. I’m still tired from breathing all day, but I’ve started untangling the lights so they’ll be ready for Christmas.”

Naturally

I couldn’t sleep long enough to allow the fog to lift. I’d like to have missed the mist. I did a Breeding Bird Survey. The car filled with mosquitoes, but I didn’t count them. I counted birds. Toads trilled, cows mooed, green frogs plunked and chorus frogs sounded like a thumbnail being run down the teeth of a comb. I stopped at the same spots in Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties that I’ve been stopping at for years and counted all the birds I’m able to see or hear in three minutes. I listened to sedge wrens both sedging and wrenning. Many birds carrying hyphens still found the strength to sing. There were many crowing roosters — both pheasants and domestic chickens. I saw a few sandhill cranes and more red-headed woodpeckers than that. I saw the perfect murder — of crows. I counted 53 species compared to 56 last year. I spotted more red-winged blackbirds than any other bird, followed by common grackles and European starlings. Red-wings were seen at the most stops followed by American robins and grackles. Red-winged males began singing in March and are still singing in July. A pickup pulled up to my motionless vehicle at 5:45 a.m. and asked if everything was OK. It was darn near perfect.

We had to battle severe roadwork, but a friend, Preston Cook of Wabasha, and I found a place to sit and talk while enjoying caffeine in cups. Preston is the author of a wonderful book titled, “American Eagle: A Visual History of Our National Emblem.” It’s a terrific book if you like eagles. It’s a terrific book if you don’t like eagles.

Back at home, I watched a catbird eat raspberries. Inspired, I picked black caps and found them delicious. The catbird scolded me. A tree swallow’s eyes peeked out at me from her nest box. There was little doubt that I was happier to see her than she was to see me. She’s a good neighbor who hasn’t swallowed a single tree in my yard. A house wren chattered severely at me. The intensity increased as I neared its nest. The tiny bird sounded like a Geiger counter.

There is an eastern cottontail rabbit, a lawn bunny, that follows me around the yard. I don’t feed it and we’ve never been properly introduced. Perhaps our paths cross coincidentally. As I watched the bunny eat a dandelion with great gusto, I was reminded that what is a weed to someone is feed to another. It’s been an odd summer. I hear no song sparrows singing in the yard. I don’t recall that ever being the case before.

Q&A

Gene Amley of New Richland asked why he isn’t seeing any orioles. When Baltimore orioles arrive in the spring, they’re hungry after a long migration and take advantage of food offerings at feeders. When they’re nesting and feeding young, their diet shifts more to protein-rich insects. The adults often bring their fledglings to the feeders.

“How does a mosquito find me so quickly?” A mosquito can detect sweat and carbon dioxide. And they can find you on the internet.

“Why does a deer’s coat change color?” A deer’s coat provides thermoregulation and camouflage. Summer coats are reddish and thin, allowing deer to cope with heat stress. Hormonal changes turn that coat into a two-layered, faded gray or brown. The outer guard hairs on a winter coat are hollow and stiff. The inner layer is soft and dense, equipping the animal with insulation. Coat color tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural lands.

“What kind of woodpecker is Woody the Woodpecker?” An animated one. Walter Lantz, Woody’s creator, was inspired by an acorn woodpecker, but Woody appears to have been modeled after a pileated woodpecker. A pileated is more refined that Woody. Pileated means capped, referring to the crest of a woodpecker.

Thanks for stopping by

“If ant hills are high in July, the coming winter will be hard.” — Proverb

“Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.” — Thor Heyerdahl

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” — Emily Dickinson

Do good.

© Al Batt 2019

The Baltimore oriole shares the heraldic colors of the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

The Baltimore oriole shares the heraldic colors of the coat of arms of Lord Baltimore. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

At the Farm & City Days car show in New Richland, Minnesota, a Gremlin has become a respected elder.

At the Farm & City Days car show in New Richland, Minnesota, a Gremlin has become a respected elder.

At the Farm & City Days car show in New Richland, Minnesota, a Gremlin has become a respected elder.

At the Farm & City Days car show in New Richland, Minnesota, a Gremlin has become a respected elder.

This white stork in Hungary delivered its own babies.

This white stork in Hungary delivered its own babies.

This white stork in Hungary delivered its own babies.

Just the thing for when you have company.

Just the thing for when you have company.

A seat of learning at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa.

A seat of learning at the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in Iowa.

Letting Red-headed Woodpeckers know they are welcome.

Letting Red-headed Woodpeckers know they are welcome.

The Ebony Jewelwing is a damselfly of incredible beauty.

The Ebony Jewelwing is a damselfly of incredible beauty.

The Ebony Jewelwing is a damselfly of incredible beauty.

public.jpeg
public.jpeg
An oriole reads the label before eating grape jelly.

An oriole reads the label before eating grape jelly.

An oriole reads the label before eating grape jelly.

An oriole reads the label before eating grape jelly.

It was too hot to be in the hot tub.

It was too hot to be in the hot tub.

A wasp flew a katydid to death’s screen door.

A wasp flew a katydid to death’s screen door.

They are Minnesota Twins, too.

They are Minnesota Twins, too.

public.jpeg
public.jpeg
The goldfinches came for lunch, stayed for dinner.

The goldfinches came for lunch, stayed for dinner.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak doesn’t worry about her big bill for lunch.

A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak doesn’t worry about her big bill for lunch.

The red and black of the milkweed beetle may be aposematic (a warning coloration), advertising the beetle as something a predator might not want to eat.

The red and black of the milkweed beetle may be aposematic (a warning coloration), advertising the beetle as something a predator might not want to eat.

A Red-winged Blackbird singing overtime.

A Red-winged Blackbird singing overtime.

Nothing runs like two deer.

Nothing runs like two deer.

This Tree Swallow is remarkably well-behaved. It hasn’t swallowed a single tree in my yard.

This Tree Swallow is remarkably well-behaved. It hasn’t swallowed a single tree in my yard.

This youngster will soon learn that every groundhog has its day.

This youngster will soon learn that every groundhog has its day.

As an old basketball player, I try to never miss a bunny — even a lawn bunny like this one.

As an old basketball player, I try to never miss a bunny — even a lawn bunny like this one.

Things, including House Finches, are looking up.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Things, including House Finches, are looking up.

There is something about upward-curving bills like this one of an American Avocet that intrigues me greatly.

There is something about upward-curving bills like this one of an American Avocet that intrigues me greatly.

Al Batt: Different things keep birds away from feeders

 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’m still living a kale-free existence, but I came down with a nasty cold, as opposed to the good kind of cold. Everyone tells me it’s a terrible time to catch a cold. There is no time to catch a cold that isn’t terrible. For the better part of a week, I slept 16 hours a day! That wasn’t a bad thing. I may not have gotten much work done, but it sure cut down on the number of mistakes I normally make.”

Naturally

A turkey stopped in the middle of the road, appearing to motion that my car should go around. I went around. I’d just heard from a friend who told me that a collision with a raccoon had resulted in $5,600 damage to a car.

The grass whipped in the wind as if it were trying to free itself from its roots. A leggy fawn fought the furious wind. The wind subsided and I listened to a trio of marathon singers — brown thrasher, gray catbird and red-eyed vireo. They may be repetitive, but I never grow weary of hearing them. They are no whip-poor-wills, nocturnal birds with loud, distinctive voices, that can be heard singing long in the night in parts of Minnesota. It’s not uncommon for a “whip” to chant its name 100 times without break.

I watched a groundhog kit and a cottontail rabbit eating dandelions on the lawn. The rabbit was larger than the young woodchuck. Suddenly, the baby groundhog raised up on his rear legs like a miniature grizzly and looked menacingly at the bunny. The rabbit ignored it. The groundhog charged the rabbit. The last I saw of the two is when they were headed around a pass between shrubs and trees.

A rose-breasted grosbeak, American goldfinch and white-breasted nuthatch sunned themselves on a feeder attached to a window. A man told me that in his retirement, he spends more time with his small dog. He and the dog spend 15 minutes each morning staring out the window. The dog points things out with its eyes. They particularly enjoy watching the crows. Crows are always up to something.

American white pelicans flew overhead. Their 9-foot wingspans carry them unusually long distances to forage for food. Fishing trips of 30 miles one-way aren’t uncommon. A man from Clearwater, told me that he’d vacationed in San Diego. He didn’t think he could have ever tired of the nice weather there. He was enjoying an adult beverage at a table outside a cafe, when a brown pelican flew over and made a deposit directly into the man’s glass. Direct deposits aren’t always pleasant things.

I find great joy in seeing Canada anemone, a North American native perennial growing in moist meadows, along wet wood edges, in road ditches and along stream banks. Its white flowers have showy yellow center stamens on long, stalked branches.

June brings summer and is our wettest month of the year. Summer coaxes flowers from the woods to bloom in the open. June is typically when I first see flashing fireflies. Some years, I see them in May, but from the middle of June through July is when I see them most often.

Adult dragonflies on wing become numerous after emerging from their larval stages in the water. I noticed small masses of sticky, frothy bubbles at leaf nodes of plants. The white foam blobs are produced by the nymphs of spittlebugs, which are small insects getting their name from the globs of foamy spit they create along the stems of plants. The foam serves a number of purposes: Protecting the nymph from predators as well as providing the tender nymph with insulation from temperature extremes and low humidity.

Q&A

“Why are there so few birds at my feeders?” If the food isn’t fresh, they stay way. A cat or accipiter (hawk) can keep birds away for short stretches. Typically, what happens this time of year is once the eggs have hatched, the parents of many species move to a high protein diet of insects and other small invertebrates to feed the nestlings. This change in diet eliminates many feeder visits.

“I stopped by a stream in southeastern Minnesota and heard an odd sound that reminded me of a bad banjo player. What could it have been?” It was a green frog. It’s the second largest frog in Minnesota. Only the bullfrog, the largest frog in North America, is larger. The green frog makes a sound like someone plucking a single banjo string.

Thanks for stopping by

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” — Helen Keller

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” — James M. Barrie

Do good.

This drawing of the Ol’ Birdbrain, also known as Al Batt, was done by Joe Engesser of Red Wing.

This drawing of the Ol’ Birdbrain, also known as Al Batt, was done by Joe Engesser of Red Wing.

The American Robin is a handsome bird.

The American Robin is a handsome bird.

A red-winged blackbird turns the world into his song

FullSizeRender.jpg

A red-winged blackbird turns the world into his song.#birding

It’s a good thing coots don’t wear shoes, because they would have trouble finding some in their size.

It’s a good thing coots don’t wear shoes, because they would have trouble finding some in their size.

A Turkey Vulture flashes its movie-star good looks.

A Turkey Vulture flashes its movie-star good looks.

This African bird, a Cape Thick-knee, was seen at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.

This African bird, a Cape Thick-knee, was seen at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.

A Golden-breasted Starling seen at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

A Golden-breasted Starling seen at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

A Golden-breasted Starling seen at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

A Golden-breasted Starling seen at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.

How much wood could a pair of wood ducks chuck if a pair of wood ducks could chuck wood?

FullSizeRender.jpg

How much wood could a pair of wood ducks chuck if a pair of wood ducks could chuck wood?

The female wood duck makes a loud "oo-eek" call when startled.

The female wood duck makes a loud "oo-eek" call when startled.

A goose with a toothache.

A goose with a toothache.

FullSizeRender.jpg

You can call it the turtle dove, but the Mourning Dove won’t call you back.

She’s beautiful, but she’s the worst bricklayer I’ve ever hired.

She’s beautiful, but she’s the worst bricklayer I’ve ever hired.

The aftermath of a fateful encounter between a Blue Jay and a Cooper’s Hawk.

The aftermath of a fateful encounter between a Blue Jay and a Cooper’s Hawk.

It’s 5 a.m. and time to begin my Breeding Bird Survey.

It’s 5 a.m. and time to begin my Breeding Bird Survey.

A fawn seen on my oceanfront property here in Minnesota.

A fawn seen on my oceanfront property here in Minnesota.

He is not only handsome, the male American toad is quite a singer, capable of trilling a lovely tune.

FullSizeRender.jpg

He is not only handsome, the male American toad is quite a singer, capable of trilling a lovely tune.

I’m thankful for many things. One is that a tree swallow accepts this as a tree.#birdwatching

I’m thankful for many things. One is that a tree swallow accepts this as a tree.#birdwatching

This might be the Ed Grimley of tree swallows.  Ed Grimley was a Martin Short character on SNL.

This might be the Ed Grimley of tree swallows.

Ed Grimley was a Martin Short character on SNL.

The world could use more North Dakota.

The world could use more North Dakota.

_DSC6519.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder

It's the truth, it's "actch'll"

Everything is "satisfactch'll"

From “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.”

FullSizeRender.jpg
The nest of Cedar Waxwings.

The nest of Cedar Waxwings.

FullSizeRender.jpg

A couple of signs that indicate I’d like this neighborhood.

FullSizeRender.jpg

A couple of signs that indicate I’d like this neighborhood.

It’s no bluebird, but seeing an Indigo Bunting makes for a bluebird day.

It’s no bluebird, but seeing an Indigo Bunting makes for a bluebird day.

A baby groundhog at that cute stage — the same stage that every other living thing finds itself.

A baby groundhog at that cute stage — the same stage that every other living thing finds itself.

A Baltimore Oriole is a whistling stunner.

A Baltimore Oriole is a whistling stunner.

Sarus Cranes at International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Sarus Cranes at International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Al Batt: June brings with it earliest sunrise and latest sunset of the year

Al Batt: June brings with it earliest sunrise and latest sunset of the year

By Al Batt

Published 9:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2019

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’ve been walking a mile each day. That may not seem like much, but it means I’m doing more than a marathon each month. Yay me.”


Naturally


I walked between stops at blooming flowers. I thought they would never blossom, but they did. I need to maintain the faith of the flowers. A multitude of loud motorcycles motored by. Once they had gone past, I heard the snort of a deer. A doe had been spooked from its hiding place. The deer forcibly expelled air through its nostrils. It does this when it detects danger. I watched a flock of Canada geese flying north. I see them on this molt migration during late May and early June each year. The geese, too young to mate or without goslings, fly northward to safe places where they undergo an eclipse molt that includes the loss of flight feathers, which grounds the birds for four or five weeks.


June brings us the earliest sunrise and latest sunset of the year, according to Sunrise-Sunset. On June 14 the sunrise is at 5:32:15. The latest sunset is on June 26 at 8:59:14.


Q&A


“What are some plants that grow under a walnut tree?” Black walnuts produce a chemical called juglone, which occurs in all parts of the tree. Plants with some tolerance to juglone include: serviceberry, dogwood, arborvitae, barberry, sumac, black raspberry, elderberry, onion, beet, melon, squash, carrot, beans, corn, plum, yarrow, hosta, hollyhock, Jack-in-the-pulpit, iris, wild ginger, shasta daisy, aster, lobelia, begonia, Virginia bluebell, monarda, daffodil, primrose, spring beauty, crocus, phlox, Dutchman’s breeches, Mayapple, Solomon’s seal, purple coneflower, bloodroot, sedum, gentian, geranium, spiderwort, sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke, trillium, tulip, violet and zinnia.


“I saw mallards in temporary wetland in a field. Why were they all drakes?” It’s because the hens are incubating eggs. The males offer no assistance to their mates.


“Why shouldn’t I use red dye in hummingbird nectar?” I’m not sure there is solid research proving that red dye is harmful to hummingbirds, but hummingbird feeders have red parts that attract the birds, so red dye is unnecessary and potentially harmful pending ongoing studies. If your feeder has no red color, tie a red ribbon to it. Four parts water to one part white sugar makes a suitable homemade nectar.


“How fast can a rabbit run?” The eastern cottontail can run at speeds around 20 mph. Each year about 80 percent of Minnesota’s cottontail population dies from weather, predators or disease. The remaining 20 percent repopulate the state. Rabbits feed on the young leaves of the milkweeds growing in our yard. That behavior is very un-Easter Bunny-like. But then E.B., that’s what his friends call him, is the most famous rabbit.


Rosemary Ludowese writes that there were so many birds in her yard and wondered why. I spend a lot of time at airports. When bad weather hits, people mill around the airport, eating and waiting for the weather gods to smile upon them so they could fly again. I think birds were under the same conditions this spring.


“How much does weather affect insect numbers?” What impacts insect populations isn’t so much how cold winter gets, but spring’s nastiness. Some migrate, but most insects overwinter as eggs, larvae, pupae or adults in microhabitats. If the temperature warms early, insects get a fast start. If cold temperatures persevere into spring, insects miss some population cycles.


Albert Lea Audubon Preserve


I birded the preserve at the end of Oregon Street in Albert Lea. The birding was good, it always is. It was so good, I was five minutes late getting to an Audubon meeting. Albert Lea Audubon began in 1948. Charter members were: Clayton Wulff, Mrs. Chauncy Carlson, Millicent Kelts, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Barlow, Mrs. Charles Vanderberge, Mr. & Mrs. M. Emanuel, Vankirk Carlson, George Palmer, Maude Koevening and Charles Flugum. Olive Johnson joined soon after. In 1987, the Joyce Petersen estate bequeathed a 10-acre former apple orchard to Albert Lea Audubon. Audubon purchased six lots to add to the Preserve in 1989. Members of the initial Preserve committee were: Skipper Berg, Mary Ann Dixon, Dorothy Wedge, Bill and Arlene Bryson, and Arne Aakre. Take a walk at the Preserve. No charge. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll see.


Birding with Batt


Please join me for some nature talk every Tuesday at 10 a.m. on KMSU radio, 89.7 on the FM dial in Mankato or 91.3 in Austin — also heard on the TuneIn app. Past shows are available at soundcloud.com/kmsu.


Thanks for stopping by


“The place to observe nature is where you are; the walk to take today is the walk you took yesterday. You will not find just the same things: both the observed and the observer have changed.” — John Burroughs


“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” — Isak Dinesen


Do good.


© Al Batt 2019

The orchard oriole is the smallest of the North American oriole species. 

The orchard oriole is the smallest of the North American oriole species. 

A thoughtful male Northern Flicker. At least I think he’s being thoughtful.

A thoughtful male Northern Flicker. At least I think he’s being thoughtful.

All hail the mighty sunflower seed.

All hail the mighty sunflower seed.

A day without a chickadee is like a day without a chickadee. I couldn’t think of anything else it would be like being without.

A day without a chickadee is like a day without a chickadee. I couldn’t think of anything else it would be like being without.

Blue-winged teal are generally the first ducks heading south in the fall and the last arriving in the north in the spring.

FullSizeRender.jpg

  Blue-winged teal are generally the first ducks heading south in the fall and the last arriving in the north in the spring.

Flamingo dancers.

Flamingo dancers.

A catbird has a sweet beak.

A catbird has a sweet beak.

FullSizeRender.jpg

A Black Crowned Crane enchanting visitors to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Blue Cranes looking out for one another at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.#birds

Blue Cranes looking out for one another at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.#birds

I got the look from a Black-necked Crane at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

I got the look from a Black-necked Crane at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

A tree swallow peers at the sky for prey and predator.

FullSizeRender.jpg

A tree swallow peers at the sky for prey and predator.

Fake owls frightened together by real ducks.

Fake owls frightened together by real ducks.

FullSizeRender.jpg

A red-winged blackbird tries to eat and sing at the same time.

FullSizeRender.jpg

This yellow-headed blackbird found something for lunch.

A Great Horned Owl nest in April.

A Great Horned Owl nest in April.

Whooping Crane at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Whooping Crane at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

This house wren just dropped a nesting-material stick.

This house wren just dropped a nesting-material stick.

Tree Swallows will use large feathers in their nests.

Tree Swallows will use large feathers in their nests.

A thirsty deer.

A thirsty deer.

Proud of Joey Batt

As seen on a hoodie. 

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

Rock on!

The new neighbors (tree swallows) seem nice.

The new neighbors (tree swallows) seem nice.

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
A catbird dances to music only it can hear.

A catbird dances to music only it can hear.

A raccoon is a trash-diving omnivore extraordinaire.

A raccoon is a trash-diving omnivore extraordinaire.

FullSizeRender.jpg

This Great Crested Flycatcher makes a call that sounds as if it’s accusing me of being a creep. I hope the bird isn’t a keen judge of character.

FullSizeRender.jpg

This Great Crested Flycatcher makes a call that sounds as if it’s accusing me of being a creep. I hope the bird isn’t a keen judge of character.

This red-tailed hawk makes sure every vole comes to a complete stop.

This red-tailed hawk makes sure every vole comes to a complete stop.

A fawn hiding in plain sight.

A fawn hiding in plain sight.

Sunny days are made for squirrel naps.

Sunny days are made for squirrel naps.

I had no frog in my throat, but there was a frog on my forefinger.

I had no frog in my throat, but there was a frog on my forefinger.

Al Batt: How old do deer fawns need to be before they can learn to walk?

by Al Batt, albertleatribune.com
June 8, 2019 09:00 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 haven’t eaten any black jelly beans or eye of newt recently and the zombies have left me alone. I have a diversified investment portfolio — debt and lottery tickets. I went to Mel’s Repair, where all cars will be Mel adjusted. It was Brake Pad Day. That’s quite a celebration. Mel talked me into joining Bump Whistlebritches in entertaining at The Home. I played my guitar and yodeled a bit. Afterwards, I talked to a lady there who was ailing. I told her that I hoped she’d get better. She replied, ‘I hope you get better, too.’”

Naturally

In the dooryard, I watched warblers feed on caterpillars feeding on leaflets as toads trilled the background music. I appreciated the blooms of wild plum, lilac, serviceberry (Juneberry), cherry and crabapple. I saw the silken nests of eastern tent caterpillars in the forks of the branches of apple, chokecherry, crabapple, plum and cherry trees in May and June. The larvae feed on leaves, sometimes defoliating trees, but generally don’t affect tree health. The hairy larvae have blue, black and orange markings, a white stripe down the back, and a series of hairs sticking out from the sides of their bodies. Two inches long when fully grown, eastern tent caterpillars feed on tree leaves during the day and remain in their tents at night and during rainy weather.

A catbird, slim and slate-gray, produced jumbled songs that mimicked other birds. I heard a robin caroling. Donald Kroodsma, in his book “The Singing Life of Birds,” wrote, “Anyone who listens thoughtfully to robins can’t help but bubble with questions about why robins are the way they are.” Kroodsma found that each male robin has 10 to 20 different, whistled “caroling” phrases and 75-100 varied, high-pitched “hisselly” phrases. The familiar daytime song consists of caroling phrases that sound like, “Cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.” At dawn and dusk, the bird often tosses in hisselly phrases.

I watched an American redstart female gather plant fibers for nesting material along Albert Lea Lake. A boy told me redstarts were junior orioles. A correspondent from Mankato told me about a shopper at Aldi’s who had bought three cases of grape jelly. The orioles in that person’s neighborhood were eating well.

I attended an outdoor church service at a state park when a hooded warbler landed on one of the pews. It was the first time I’d gone to church with a hooded warbler. Hallelujah!

The gnats have been terrible. Vanilla extract or vanilla essentials oil seem to repel the little buggers. Some people mix it with water and use it in a spray bottle. The gnats will leave you alone, but people will be attracted to you because they think you’ve been baking.

I watched birds at Myre-Big Island State Park, Afton State Park, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Cheyenne Bottoms, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Switzer Ranch, Buffalo River State Park, Geneva Lake, Bluestem Prairie Scientific and Natural Area, Rasmussen Woods, Albert Lea Lake, Steinberg Nature Center, Walnut Lake State Wildlife Management Area, etc. I birded so much, I feel incomplete without binoculars hanging around my neck.

Q&A

Harp Bartness of Hartland asked how old a fawn is before it can walk. Fawns are able to stand within 10 minutes of birth and can walk in 7 hours. They are left alone daily while their mothers go off to forage. Fawns stay with their mother through the winter.

Daniel Otten of Hayward asked what birds feed on orange halves.

Baltimore orioles, gray catbirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, brown thrashers, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, house finch and others.

Customer comment

Mark Christenson of Columbia Heights wrote, “When the Smothers Brothers were on TV, they had Pat Paulsen as a candidate for the presidency. His best line was, ‘I’m not right winged or left winged, I’m kind of like I’m in the middle of the bird.’”

Pelican Breeze

Please join me as I host cruises on Albert Lea Lake on the prepossessing Pelican Breeze boarding at Frank Hall Park Boat Landing in Albert Lea. The cruises are at 1:30 p.m. June 23, July 28, August 25 and September 29. For more information, call 507-383-7273.

Thanks for stopping by

“I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one’s weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can’t all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something.” — Arthur Conan Doyle

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” — Hal Borland

Do good.

(c) Al Batt