Bushes, Bushels, Buckets of Beautiful Birds for...

Bushes, Bushels, Buckets of Beautiful Birds for Sunday Breakfast

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub

Not in recent memory have MN River Valley folks experienced the plentitude of birding encounters the weekend of May 19th.
Ruby throated hummingbirds, yes, yet the orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings and scarlet tanagers bested the hummers, feathers down! Many local reporters included great photos, thus doubt was a moot point. The excitement began a week ago when the LeSueur Petersons were startled to find a scarlet tanager at their in-town feeders. Scattered reports occurred during week of May 14th, but 8:00 a.m. Sunday the 19th, Barb (Bob) Plieseis phoned, her voice bubbling over with excitement, as one of the gorgeous black winged blazing scarlet bodied birds dropped by their Henderson abode. Midday, Sylvia and Pete Straub experienced tanagers, male and female, at their Pumpkin Hill feeders, along with ten orioles and grosbeaks. To the east off the well traveled gravel road, Steve and Mary Nesgoda experienced similar action. Before the day was out, a pair of skilled birding partners, Linda and Loren Rist, risking life and limb, plucked a scarlet tanager from the Hwy #19 tarvia below the NEY Center. Next, Craig Kotasek claimed another body, same species. Once preserved and licensed (an absolute necessity by law,) they will become educational tools for both young and old. Birders go years without spotting this gorgeous creation, yet this spring, here they be.

As for Baltimore (northern) orioles. The males of this species began arriving weeks ago, but this weekend, the skies/feeders went wild.
South America sent all of their orioles north! Karen and Keith Swenson obtained stunning photos of a pair of the brilliant orange and black birds wrangling over a piece of nesting material, an argument that went on while the rain tried to cool the pair before physical confrontation occurred. Later on in the day, two dozen orioles joined the mob at the Swenson feeders. Soon thereafter, Jeanne (Kerry) Renneke zipped photos showing as many as fifteen (yes, 15,) flying oranges in trees and feeders behind their Tyrone Township home. About the same time, besides a scarlet tanager, Polly Schneider counted fourteen orioles at a single feeding station, AND, they were chowing down on suet blocks besides oranges and grape jel.

What caused this extraordinary phenomena? Insect flight (thus food) was hampered by the cold weather? Perchance cold grounded the birds, thus more energy was needed for the flight farther north? Humans are providing more grape jelly, oranges and sunflower seeds? These are just guesses. What will the next few days bring?

Julie and Bryant had their first in a lifetime encounter with a red-headed woodpecker, while indigo buntings, catbirds and others feasted at their bountiful feeders on East Henderson Station Road. A red-headed also visited Brenda (Chuck) Kotasek’s feeders along with a good dozen orioles. As readers well know, this member of the woodpecker family remains few and far between in this area. This may be the first and last time this young couple and Brenda will ever see this bird species. Adding to all of the above excitement was the image Jim Halbmeier (Nancy) captured on the 19th in their back yard. Flitting through the emerald green leaves near their home was a black-capped chickadee with a beautiful white beard. Beard? A result of age? Albinism? Whatever. Jim’s sharp eyes soon discerned that the handsome fellow was a Blackburnian warbler, one of the many warblers abounding in area trees during the cool spring!

With so many reports, stories, photos, and limited space, we must leave other adventures for another day. Keep up the great work (pleasure), gang!