A serious walk in the
This is a non-birding but tender and I think
uniquely Powderhorn sort of observation. On the last Sunday of October,
I was walking on the south side of the lake when I saw a piece of
notebook paper on the ground ahead of me, halfway between me and
a trash can. I thought I would pick it up and deposit it in the
trash as I passed by. As I got closer, I saw that the paper was
pinned to the ground with a pencil and was not just litter. It was
a memorial to a dead squirrel that was lying nearby. It stated:
"R.I.P. We didn't know you but God Bless Lil Squirrel. Your
in a better place now" and was signed with initials. This is
one of the many reasons I love this neighborhood. Most people here
really care about life, nature and the world in general. At least
that's what I tell myself. This does not include the people that
covered the storage building by the ball fields with gang graffiti
a couple of days later. The squirrel and memorial were removed,
I assume by the park custodial staff, who I know also care a lot
about the park.
Now, on to living things. An immature Pied-billed
Grebe has been on the lake for a few days but you have to be looking
carefully to see it, though it comes quite close to shore. It is
well camouflaged, noiseless, and spends a lot of time under water.
The usual ducks are still there but I think most of the Wood Ducks
have gone. The Canada Goose numbers vary greatly from day to day.
So far there are not many Crows; some years there are many by this
time. And there are from a few to many Ring-billed Gulls. The gulls
are usually silent this time of year, but once in a while they call.
This always reminds me of waking up on a beautiful morning on a
sailboat on Lake Superior to the sounds of many gulls, though the
fall mornings here have been mostly beautiful so far.
Around the shore, Juncos, Song Sparrows and White-throated
Sparrows can sometimes be seen. Robins are back in the park and
the yard, at least for now, and of course the Chickadees and Cardinals
are brightening the area, too.
I have been hearing White-breasted Nuthatches lately, in the park
and neighborhood, but haven't seen them. I have seen a hawk in the
park a couple of times, and a friend saw what might be the same
hawk on the Midtown Greenway. We don't know what it is yet. It has
an unmarked white breast and appears plump or fat. Most hawks don't
appear fat or have unmarked white breasts. Hopefully we will get
better views and be able to identify it. Hairy Woodpeckers are about
the only other yard or park birds I have seen lately.
Freeway birding has been good with lots of Red-tailed
Hawks on posts and signs. Twice in one day in mid-October I saw
pairs of Red-tails sitting together on the same lampposts. This
must be some kind of "pair-bonding behavior" as the experts
would call it. I often see what I think are pairs, but they are
hunting in close proximity to each other, not perched together.
I also saw a Western Grebe on a pond by the freeway
in Western Minnesota, naturally enough, and I see flocks of turkeys
now and then, often near the Mississippi River in Minnesota and
Tundra Swans are just starting to arrive around
Alma, Wisconsin. This is a great November day trip as I say every
year. Seeing and hearing them is hard to describe, and there will
probably be lots of other waterfowl, eagles and hawks. I was in
that area in mid-October. No swans had arrived but there were lots
of Red-winged Blackbirds, always a treat for eyes and ears.
Great Gray Owls and Northern Hawk Owls are already
showing up in northern Minnesota. Maybe this will be another record
year like last year, also a great road trip for birds and other
Back to Powderhorn as a neighborhood. I was pleased
that the park did fly the flag at half-staff to honor Rosa Parks,
a truly important person in the civil rights movement, a movement
that is far from over. It was two years ago this month that I spent
an afternoon at the Ford Museum in Detroit. They had just received
the very bus, in restored condition, that Rosa Parks sat down on,
second seat from the front, on that historic day. We were able to
board that bus and listen to a guide describe that occasion. What
a privilege to be so close to that history.
Rosa Parks has enormous importance on her own, but I also bring
this up because the park has not lowered the flag on the too many
occasions that flags around the state have been flown at half-staff
to honor Minnesotans that have been killed in Iraq. I have talked
to the staff about this several times. They say they are trying
to come up with a system so they will know when the funerals are
held and will follow this state lead in this. If you agree with
me on this, you might want to say something to the park staff or
board. While I'm on this depressing subject, I would like to thank
the people on 35th Street who keep a running tally on the sign in
their yard of the U.S. troops lost in this ill-conceived war.
Walks in the park are good for the body and soul, but we need to
remember the various bad situations in our country and the world
and try to do something to improve them.
Comments and observations are always welcome.
Send them to me, in care of the Southside Pride. Thank you.