Great Blue Heron

“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.”

~John James Audubon (1785-1851), American scientist

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A great blue heron flies gracefully across a Minnesota lake as the sun dips lower into the horizon.

Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach (1947- ), American author

(Quote Source: brainyquote.com)

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A swan flies over the wild rice beds of the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge located in McGregor, Minnesota.

To learn more about the refuge, please visit their website.

 

 

Solitude

“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Poet

(Quote Source: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johannwolf104256.html?src=t_beauty)

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A lone Great Egret at twilight, patiently on the hunt for frogs or fish in a Minnesota wetland.  I sat by myself on the shore and quietly watched this graceful bird.

Common Loon

“We all experience ‘soul moments’ in life – when we see a magnificent sunrise, hear the call of the loon, see the wrinkles in our mother’s hands, or smell the sweetness of a baby. During these moments, our body, as well as our brain, resonates as we experience the glory of being a human being.”

~Marian Woodman, (1928- ) Writer, international teacher, and Jungian analyst

(Quote Source: azquotes.com)

Lake-Common-Loon

This is a young loon swimming in the shadows of a lake on an autumn morning.  The calls of a common loon across a lake are magical.  If you have not heard any before, click on the links below for a sampling:

Naughty Ducklings

“Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work.”

~ C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)

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I had a fine time at the local pond watching these little ducklings run across and then dodge behind the numerous lily pads.  Mama Wood Duck had quite a time trying to gather them together again!

Surrender to the Moment

“If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh, (1906-2001) American author, aviator, and the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh

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A lovely pair of Trumpeter Swans that I photographed in May as they basked in the spring sunshine.

Hooded Merganser Moves

“For fast-acting relief try slowing down.”

~ Lily Tomlin (1939- ) American comedic actress

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The Hooded Merganser is the smallest of the three merganser species common to North America.  In my opinion, this species moves quickly!  They are quite adept at avoiding me and my camera.  I was pleased to catch a shot of this male near the shoreline.

Yoga Duck

“My point is, life is about balance. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. The pina and the colada.”

~Ellen DeGeneres, Seriously…I’m Kidding

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Female Mallard duck balancing while she “rests.”  Amazing!  Animals model balance for us on a regular basis.  The struggle to survive certainly sets priorities for them.

 

Canada Goose

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
~ Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

AS4A6027-1(Canada Goose in a spring wetland.)

One of the first birds to return to Minnesota in the spring is the Canada Goose.  This common bird is one of the best known birds in North America. It is found in every contiguous U.S. state and Canadian province at one time of the year or another!

When Canada (not Canadian) geese migrate, they form impressive and aerodynamic “V-formations.” They can fly 1,500 miles in just 24 hours with a favorable wind, but generally travel at a more leisurely pace.  For me, a Canada Goose in the spring is similar to sighting the first American Robin.

eBird

“The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”

~ Bill Gates (1955- ) Co-founder of Microsoft

AS4A9706-1(Red-tailed hawk gliding over cornfields on a day in spring.)

As a nature-lover I am interested in supporting efforts that are beneficial to our natural world.  Recently I have spent some time acquainting myself with a site called eBird.   Sponsored by groups such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird is a real-time, online checklist program that has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds.

By joining the site you can:

  • Record the birds you see
  • Keep track of your bird lists
  • Explore dynamic maps and graphs
  • Share your sightings and join the eBird community
  • Contribute to science and conservation

The use of this global tool is absolutely free.  I’m having fun with it and encourage others with an interest in birds to explore this site as well.

Feed the Birds!

“Learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.”

~Dr. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) American scholar, statistician, and teacher

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(Pictured above are ducks migrating through my area: a male Ring-necked duck and four Hooded Mergansers.)

What is it about some birds that compel them to migrate?  Once they begin their journey, how do they know when it is time to stop?  How do they know when it is time to return?  Scientists continue to study and learn about this phenomenon!

Here are a few facts that I found interesting about bird migration:

  1.  At least 4,000 species of bird are regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world. (Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)–Audubon.org.
  2. The Bar-tailed Godwit can fly for nearly 7,000 miles without stopping, making it the bird with the longest recorded non-stop flight.  During the eight-day journey, the bird doesn’t stop for food or rest–Audubon.org.
  3. Hawks, swifts, swallows and waterfowl migrate primarily during the day, while many songbirds migrate at night, in part to avoid the attention of migrating predators such as raptors. The cooler, calmer air at night also makes migration more efficient for many species, while those that migrate during the day most often take advantage of solar-heated thermal currents for easy soaring–birding.about.com.
  4. The ruby-throated hummingbird migrates from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to the southeastern United States every spring, a journey of 500-600 miles over the Caribbean Sea that takes 24 hours without a break–birding.about.com.
  5. Migrating birds face many threats along their journeys, including window collisions, confusing lights that disrupt navigation, hunting, habitat loss and predation. Juvenile birds are at greater risk because of their inexperience with migration – yet somehow, birds successfully migrate every year–birding.about.com.

So, consider putting out and keeping full a bird feeder and/or bird bath in the spring and the fall.  There are some tired and hungry birds traveling at these times of year!

Spring Bird Migration

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote,

To travel is to live.”

~Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

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We are in the midst of the bird migration season here in Minnesota.  Simply put, birds migrate to move from areas of low or decreasing resources to areas of high or increasing resources. The two primary resources being sought are food and nesting locations.  It can be an exciting time for birders and photographers alike as all hope to spot something new and/or different as the birds visit our area.

This is a shot of geese high above a birding “hotspot” near the Cannon River in southeastern Minnesota.  (To learn more about birding hotspots, please visit:  http://ebird.org/content/ebird/news/hotspot-explorer/ )

 

 

Open Your Eyes

Open your eyes that you may see
The beauty that around you lies,
The misty loveliness of the dawn,
The glowing colors of the skies;
The Child’s bright eager eyes of blue,
The gnarled and wrinkled face of age,
The bird with crimson on his wing
Whose spirit never knew a cage;
The roadsides blooming goldenrod
So brave through summer’s wind and heat,
The brook that rushes to the sea
With courage that naught may defeat.
Open your eyes that you may see
The wonder that around you lies;
It will enrich your every day
And make you glad and kind and wise.
~Emma Boge Whisenand, Open Your Eyes

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As a Minnesotan, I find the fact that the Great Egret is native to my state to be amazing.  Seriously!  This is a shot of an egret during mating season.  Doesn’t this bird look too exotic to be sitting on a branch in a local Minneapolis wetland?

According to allaboutbirds.org, the pristinely white Great Egret gets especially dressed up for the breeding season. A patch of skin on its face turns neon green, and long plumes grow from its back. Called aigrettes, those plumes were the bane of egrets in the late nineteenth century, when such adornments were prized for ladies’ hats.  I’m glad that tradition has gone out of style.

As a nature photographer, I count myself blessed whenever I open my eyes to see a sight such as this one!

Wild Country Needed

“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”

~Wallace Stegner (American writer, historian, and environmentalist), 1960, from a letter written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission

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