Friday, March 27, 2009

Birdie Friday

So, I'm happy to report that I started back to work this week. It's only part-time (Tuesdays and Thursdays), but that's OK because the State of Minnesota also finally got my unemployment problems worked out and I got my first deposit yesterday--almost 1 month after I got laid off. So, with money in the checking account finally, it was time to head over to Fleet Farm to re-stock my critter food inventories: corn for the deer, dog food for the possums and foxes, dog food and treats for Sophie, and some safflower seed to discourage grackles at my birdfeeders. It was a nice morning (a little cold with a definite windchill in the air), so I bundled up and did a little birding on my way to Fleet Farm. My first stop was the Willow Creek Reservoir because I've heard that people are starting to see migrating waterfowl in the area. There wasn't a lot of activity at the reservoir (aside from the usual Canada Geese), but I did see Common and Hooded Mergansers, Pied Billed Grebes, Lesser Scaup, Herring Gulls, and one Canvasback. I was hoping maybe for some Tundra Swans and/or White Pelicans, but maybe later on next week.

I stopped to check on the Bald Eagle nest that's just up the road from our house. Mr. and Mrs. Bald Eagle were both present, so I got this nice shot from the truck window. You can just barely see Mrs. Eagle's head over the left edge of the nest. It's so neat to have these birds nesting nearby!

Here's my backyard lawn aeration team in action. This is a mixed group of "blackbirds"--mostly starlings, with a few grackles and cowbirds mixed in. Since the snow has all melted, there have been huge flocks of starlings roaming around and pecking on the ground. I don't know if they're finding seeds on the ground or actually pecking deep enough into the ground to find some insects or grubs.
Anyway, I've been letting them roam around and here's what they're doing--aerating the lawn! Can you see all the little round holes in the photo below? As much as I don't like starlings, I really appreciate them aerating my lawn and they can eat as many bugs and grubs as their little tummies can hold.

The Downy Woodpeckers must be getting ready to start their families soon too--this is the first time I've seen a male and female sharing the suet log. Normally only one woodpecker is allowed there at a time.

And just for size comparison, here's a female Hairy Woodpecker enjoying the suet log too. The downies can get to the suet log by going through the wire, but the hairies are too big and they have to fly in from the bottom. (you can just see the head of a male Downy in the background waiting outside for Mrs. Hairy to depart)

Here's a pair of House Finches. I've been waiting for this feeder to go empty so I can fill it with safflower seed to discourage starlings and grackles.
This is the feeder that hangs right outside the dining room window and I still want to attract the bigger birds like cardinals and rose-breasted grosbeaks (once they come back), so I don't put a cage over it and switch over to straight safflower seed in the spring.

I hope you all have a chance to get out and enjoy some birding this weekend.


Kallen305 said...

So glad to see you are back to work part time. This will still allow you to bird a lot this summer.

Awesome eagle shots!!!!

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Kim. It's good to have some income again too!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Maybe I should throw some seed in my front yard so the birds will aereate the zoysia. tee hee... Great pictures Ruthie. Congrats on your job and the govmt finally giving you your due. Yes, we will be out birding this weekend. The shorebirds are beginning to come through. Warblers will be arriving soon.

Kelly said...

The eagle's nest is absolutely huge!! I wonder how much it weighs. You're lucky you are so close to one. I look forward to future shots of the couple and their babies!!

Lynne said...

That's great news about the job Ruthie. LOVE your new photo! Is that the sweater you knitted? It's beautiful. The grackles have been here foe a few days and today I noticed the first starlings but I haven't seen any cowbirds yet. I do have a song sparrow singing his heart out though!!

NCmountainwoman said...

Nice shots of the Hairy and Downy. There won't be much bird watching here, since we are expecting rain all weekend. Yeah!

Red said...

Yay for the $$ in your acct! Or would chirp be more appropriate?

That is a very good aeration teem you have there :) Hope they got a bunch of grubs... they are gross.

Marsha said...

I'm glad that you are back to work even if it is only part time.

How neat to be able to live close to an eagle nest. I loved the photo...we have all the grackles and starlings here too! They are so noisy in the trees in the need for alarm clocks.

cindy said...

Ruthie, have not had the cowbirds here either, but have had 8 Fox Sparrows scratching around under the spruce tree. Good to see them again. Sounds like more snow for Monday and Tuesday. Bundle up! Glad to hear about your job. Have you seen any fox lately?

Jaime said...

So much goodness in this post! I love that eagle nest. Eagles! Wow. It's pretty rare that we see them around our place in S. Ohio, but we do on occasion. It's always a treat to see them when we are in MN though. I love the suet log, the sweet House Finches look just plain cuddly, and a big HOORAY for the job.

troutbirder said...

I love the aeration thing... everything to a purpose. We did a Big River tour yesterday. There had to be hundreds of thousands of waterfowl in the river all the way to Prairie du Chien. At New Albin Iowa I saw at least a half a dozen new kinds of shorebirds which left me (the now semi-rookie birder) totally flabergasted and puzzled when it came to identifying them.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Lisa,
Now if I could only get those birds to do some de-thatching too! I hope we'll be seeing some warblers in a month or so.

Thanks Kelly. It is a HUGE nest and I think this is only the second year the eagles have nested there. The only bad thing is that once the trees leaf out, we completely lose sight of the nest, but we've got probably a month at least before that happens.

Hi Lynne,
Yes, that's my Big Lena sweater and that picture was from the day we left California. It was funny that morning when I came out for breakfast, both my brothers said, "hey, isn't that the Big Lena sweater?" I laughed (at least I know they're reading my blog!)

Hi Carolyn,
I'm glad you're looking forward to a rainy weekend! I'm guessing you still need to make up rainfall from your last 2 drought years, right?

Thanks Heidi. I was pretty happy when I checked my account and finally saw a deposit!
I hate those grubs too--I'm glad the starlings are helping to take care of that.

Thanks Marsha. Part-time will be great for the summer. This job does pay a little more than the last one too, so that will help and unemployment makes up the difference as long as I work <32 hours a week, so it's not too bad.

Hi Cindy,
Not many cowbirds yet, but I'm definitely seeing more mixed in with the other black birds. I've been watching for any migrating sparrows, but the song sparrow is the only one in my backyard so far. I still have a few juncos hanging around too. Haven't seen the foxes or possums lately either.
Next week's forecast sounds kinda nasty, but I guess we can use the moisture.

Thanks Jaime. There are a few man-made lakes and small rivers nearby, so can usually find eagles if one knows where to look for them. I never get tired of seeing them soaring around. This nest is right close to the highway we take for our daily commute, so that's a really nice thing to see on the way home from work.

Hi Troutbirder,
I'm glad you had a fun trip. I hope to talk Mr. Johnson into driving me over to the river this weekend too (since it's supposed to be nice). I really need to work on my shorebird and waterfowl ID skills.

Anonymous said...

I love that eagle nest, you are so lucky to live close to one. Now you can keep an eye on them and watch them grow up.

It might be a month or more before all the leaves are on the trees, especially if it stays on the cool side like it has been [17 yesterday and 20 this morning] BRRR!


Jayne said...

How cool that you get to monitor that eagle nest! :c) Glad the job situation and the unemployment compensation got worked out Ruthie. Have a wonderful weekend!

The Early Birder said...

Hi Ruthie, glad to hear you're back at work. I'd love to go part-time & get more birding time.
Must be really cool to have Bald Eagle nesting close by. Lol FAB

Gaelyn said...

Try not to work too hard. Unemployment is so overwhelmed, you're lucky to have seen it only one month. Hope you can continue to collect while working only part time.

The eagles nest is awesome. So right, to have that nearby your home is an honor. See Starlings can be good for somethin.

Great post.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
It is cool to have that eagle nest so close and nice that the development planned for there hasn't taken off yet.
I did notice last night that some of the daylilies next to the driveway have begun sprouting (but they get full sun most of the day).

Thanks Jayne. You have a good weekend too!

Thanks Frank. The unemployment will supplement the part-time wages and I'm going to try and make it that way until next fall, to be able to spend more time outside this summer. Hopefully by next fall the economy will be straightening out and more full-time jobs will be available too.

Hi Gaelyn,
Before I got laid off, I had heard from other Manpower employees about some delays with unemployment. In my case though, I'm pretty sure the delay was from Manpower's side. I'm a little disappointed with them as an employment agency and their handling of this case--but after a few phone calls, it seems to be straightened out now.
The eagle's nest is a few hundred yards off the main highway in & out of Rochester. I'm guessing 99.9% of the people speeding by there each day have no idea the nest is there!

Meggie said...

Your trip to Fleet Farm sounds like my trips to my local Feed Store. Cool shot of the bald eagles. I like your new profile pic. Did you knit the sweater?

Heather said...

I'm glad to hear you've got that part time work, and that your unemployment bennies are rolling in too! Most of the birding I've done this weekend has been right in my own backyard, but it has been satisfying nonetheless. Take care!

Ruth said...

I would love to see an eagle's nest. Interesting information about the safflower seeds. I have heard it is good for discouraging undesirable birds.

Mel said...

Hola Ruthie!
It's good to know that you started a new job, part time or not, it is good to have some money in the pockets :)
Enjoy your visitors!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Meggie,
The deer are coming back every night now, so I'm starting to go through the corn alot faster again.
Yes, that's my Big Lena sweater in my profile picture. Fortunately it's still cold enough here to wear it!

Thanks Heather. Backyard birding is the best. Yesterday I heard the rooster pheasant crowing out back and this afternoon I watched a bald eagle flying by while washing dishes!

Hi Ruth,
It's amazing how huge those bald eagle nests are!
The safflower seed is working great! The house finches are loving it. I've also seen the cardinal and red-winged blackbird eating some too--but no grackles or starlings! When the rose-breasted grosbeaks come back, they will spend lots of time at this feeder too and I'm really looking forward to that.

Hi Mel,
Thanks for sharing your good news about Tommy with us this afternoon. I'm glad to hear your mom's doing better too. Please give her a hug for me!

beegirl said...

Congrats on the new job, Ruthie!! Hmmmm, maybe a ripped bag discount besides for the babies back home?