Hi-Rise Rental Spoken For. Sorry!

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub.

Recall the empty aerie on Bucks’ Lake, the one in which two eaglets successfully fledged in 2019? Muskrat owners of the stately cottonwood tree were becoming anxious as to whether rent money would be forthcoming this year in order to pay taxes, but Saturday evening, as a rare bright sunset suffused the sky, Ma Eagle plopped in, announced that she was willing to pay the price for the snug accommodation, then brought hubby around on Sunday morning, January 12th. He approved the view, the capacity for fishing and rescuing dying pisces, noted the deceased possum and raccoon on Hwy # 93, and nodded his beak in approval. No reconstruction has commenced on the firm foundation, but it appears that ‘a deal’s a deal.’ They’ve taken out flood and wind insurance.

Final results of the Ney Christmas Bird Count of December, 2019, continue to indicate that the migratory bird most spotted by seventy-five plus local birders within the 7.5 of the Ney Center, indicate that the trophy should be awarded to the junco family. There may have been present different sub-species of the same family, but as Frances, the female flying Focus is just a neophyte at birding (as is her mistress and master) let’s not frustrate her and call them all dark-eyed or slate colored juncos. (A couple of expert witnesses communicated that a few Oregon juncos were mixed into the flocks, but we’ll not quibble over that.) Four hundred sixteen juncos were enumerated by our seventy-five voluntary birders. Yes, 75 plus folks gave up time on December 14th!

To complicate awarding the ‘most spotted’ bird award, the common sparrow, house sparrow, English sparrow, whatever you’d like to call the gritty little birds, came in with a score of 416 as well. However, two reports came in after the deadline, heralding the house sparrow, so we really shouldn’t count them, plus, the brown and white birds are not considered migratory birds, and when the feathers are flying, we’ll stick to the winners being the juncos.

But. Always a “but.” One of the last days of December, 2019, the SUN, that mysterious object in the sky, decided to show itself. While entering a certain business place in the area, there was a sudden cheery sound from nigh rooftop! It was a “Spring is here, where is my dear?” chirp. Sure enough, in his usual courting spot a house sparrow was announcing what he considered the arrival of spring and his availability for dates and mates. There sat Frances’s ‘behind the sign’ sparrow. Recall that English sparrows were imported from Eurasia, due to their beautiful chirps, a hundred or so years ago. (When chirping in a group, they sound like a wondrous group of choristers.) Considered domestic birds, that is ‘kept’’ birds, they need humans and their pets to survive, not being birds of field and forest. Lots of them around, especially in towns and around feed lots, messy hearty gleaners or scavengers.

While we’re writing of scavenging, recall the gorgeous trumpeter swan the Henderson Hardels discovered in front of their home on December 30th, a victim of execution and broken neck. Frances had hoped that an area citizen would come forward willing to have the precious juvenile bird mounted for viewing by future generations in an educational setting. So far, no takers. In that the bird is frozen and our licenses from USFW and MNDNR continue to be valid, the swan winged its way to St Anne’s School January 9th. The excited children were able to compare the size of the swan versus their heights, and found it most interesting. (See photo) Amazing what a diet of vegetation will accomplish!

Where were we? Oh, yes, the CBC final count.
In comparing numbers going back eight years and more, we discovered that blue jay numbers have dropped away, result of bird Avian flu? Cardinals reached a new high, 218. Mourning doves maintain goodly numbers in spite of the cold December, 77, although in 2014, 94 remained around in December. A few American robins, 15, were discoveried swiping flowering crab tree fruits, but nothing like the 110 of 2013, the 93 of 2019, or the 3000 robins in January of 2019!

Somehow some 30 or so ring-necked pheasants survived to December 14th, but nothing like the 172 discovered in 2010! Gold finches were scarcer than hen’s teeth, just 80! No sunshine? Another domesticated bird, the European starling still hangs around… 265 this year, compared to their banner year of 2013, 928! Interested in further CBC information? Contact Alex Colling, Resource Manager at the NEY Center.

Tired of this writer’s grumbling? Try this on for size. Frances awards the biggest xxxx of the year prize thus far to the person who deposited an aluminum can at the ramp at Hwys #8 and #93 west of LeSueur. Anxious to pick the trash up, she let out an angry hum when she smelled the odor of snuff emanating from the can. Yes, folks, common practice is to spit your tobacco product into a can or bottle and throw it into a ditch. Gross, eh? That’s not the worst of what Franny finds. Go ye therefore out and make the world a better place to live!!!