||One fireflly, two turtles and a hawk family
Luckily, I am not aware of any major neighborhood disasters such as last month’s Walker Church fire so I will probably only write about birds, animals, insects and nature this month.
Last month again was a no-bald-eagle-in-the-park month, but there were other interesting sightings, at least I thought so. One was quite a bit smaller than the Bald Eagle—a firefly! Only one firefly, or lightning bug, is what I saw on the very hot and humid evening of June 18. In July I will be spending some time at my large summer home in Eagan. Oh, I guess it is someone else’s large home in Eagan, where I will be house- and animal-sitting. With good luck and weather conditions, I sometimes see a lot of fireflies out there.
Another smaller but interesting (again, at least to me) sighting was Painted Turtles laying eggs. On two days in a row (June 10 and June 11), I found two different turtles laying and burying eggs near the northwest shore of Powderhorn Lake. I saw quite a bit of the whole process on the first day, and some of the ending process on the second day. For a few days, I think I could spot exactly where the eggs were laid, but now I can’t. On both days, the turtles were laying in late afternoon, which my “Turtles and Turtle Watching for the North Central States” book, by John Moriarty, says they should do.
Another one of my reptile-amphibian buddies, Todd the Toad, came through the backyard on a rainy June 17 night. I had not seen him for some time so I went out to talk to him. He actually waved to me with his small right hand, paw or foot—whatever he calls it. I have since seen more of him.
There are many dragonflies and butterflies on some days, but I am still working on identifying all of them, with some luck now and then.
Another non-bird item was a very well-defined rainbow east of the park on June 20. The sun was setting so the rainbow deteriorated by the second as you watched it. But I got some great looks before it deteriorated completely and disappeared.
Now, on to birds, saving the best—and it is really great—for last. The usual land and water birds are up to their usual summer behavior. Most of the young Canada Geese, Mallards and Wood Ducks are approaching full size, but some of the Mallards and Wood Ducks had new litters in mid-June and sometimes some of them have litters even later. The Black-crowned Night Herons, including the immature one, are almost always on the lake, I think, but they do a good job of hiding most of the time. The Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets so far are not as consistent visitors as they are some years. The Double-crested Cormorants are possibly more consistent at the lake this year than their wading Heron and Egret buddies.
Out of the water, not too much is new among the small birds. The usual Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, English Sparrows, Goldfinches, Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, Robins, Nuthatches, Bluebirds, Grackles, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, etc., are still usual. I, as well as some other people, have seen a Cedar Waxwing. Usually you see a flock of Waxwings, but I, and other people who have talked to me, have only seen one at a time. There is often an American Crow or small Crow families, but not the thousands of Crows that show up in the winter.
The yard also has the usual suspects, with a fair number of common birds that will often come within a few feet of a quiet, familiar person, especially if that person is near a food or water source.
And now for the big BIG bird finale. The Cooper’s Hawks’ nest and family has to be one of the greatest spectacles and finest birding events of Powderhorn Park this or maybe any year. The area in the southwest corner of the park often draws small, enthralled groups of all types and ages, even including enthralled dogs, to watch the parents and four young but by now quite large hawk fledglings in the nest, near the nest, or somewhere in the ever expanding area around the nest as the young become bigger birds, better flyers, and accomplish other feats.
They, the young, think they know it all now, as some human young do. But they hopefully will learn a lot more about hunting and surviving in the next few months as the other Cooper’s Hawk fledglings did a few years ago in a nearby area of the park. I wish I could do a better job of describing the exact southwest area of the park, but the trees all look pretty much alike and their territory keeps getting bigger as the young hawks’ abilities grow. If you are interested but don’t know that park area well, just look for small to large groups of people looking up and listening. I have seen many nice people helping others find the often moving and sometimes difficult-to-see Cooper’s Hawks. To me it is really worth looking for the birds. It provides a rare and beautiful experience.
Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.