Category Archives: Year 5

Birding All Minnesota State Parks in 2018

Ben Douglas has a cool idea. While as a birder I am not into keeping lists, I love folks who have interesting and unique ideas. Ben’s idea is he will bird every state park in Minnesota during 2018! For most people, including me this means I had to look up how many parks this effort entails (66 parks). Given Minnesota is 407 miles from North to South, and 360 miles from East to West, this will be a lot of land to cover … particularly as a lot of the driving to reach these parks will be on rural roads. Browse to Ben’s  blog, The Big Douglas, and bookmark it (or subscribe). If you have installed my Minnesota Birding News App, his posts will be automatically presented to you!

This image is of Ben and his first park of the new year, Jay Cooke Park.

eBird Range Maps

A very useful tool when birding an unfamiliar region, or just looking for a specific kind of bird in your home area are eBird Range Maps. This map based tool will pull up Google Maps with eBird sighting reports superimposed on top. Whether on a mobile device or a personal computer, you may move the map around, select different date options, bird species and much more. Use the linked version I have provided attached to this post, and after setting some parameters bookmark it to your own computer. Once saved to your own device, you may easily load the tool, make a few changes and have a local bird guide! Please note that sensitive species such as Great Gray Owls will not be accessible via the range map.

I have annotated a screenshot of a Evening Grosbeak eBird Range Map. I often switch Google Maps over to satellite mode once I zoom in on a desired birding area. This helps me learn in advance what kind of habitat I will encounter.

Owl Poopers & Bloopers (3 Species!)

If you’ve noticed, like most wildlife photographers, I only publish “great images”. Well, guess what … in the real world I take lots of horrible photographs, some even comical. Thus, I bring you my first in a series of “Owl Poopers and Bloopers” … with lots of butt shots!

Great Gray Owl Pooping
Thought this bird was going to fly when I pressed the shutter … Not!

Snowy Owl Butt
Raptors always taken off into a stiff wind … Not!

Northern Hawk Owl Butt
I repeat …. Raptors always taken off into a stiff wind … Not!

Great Gray Owl Butts
By the light of the silvery moon … and da Bog!

Great Gray Owl Silhouetted Against Moon!

I took this photograph 50 minutes before sunrise today, which made this an incredibly difficult image from a photography vantage point. Taking this kind of photo was my goal when I headed out in the dark this morning. Here are some of the things I needed to have happen:

  1. You need a full moon, or almost full moon. Thus, there are not too many opportunities per year.
  2. You needed to find an owl in the dark.
  3.  The owl must be willing to sit on the very top of a tree such that I could line up the bird with the moon.
  4. I needed all my thermal clothes. It was -9F when I took this photograph, and I have no idea what the chill factor was except to note 15 minutes hiking around outside of the car was plenty. It was plenty cold.

The owl never spooked during my time with the bird. It was willing to let me be within 15 yards, but I needed to back off to get the proper moon angles, etc.

I may be crazy as an owl, but I stayed out till 10 am, and ultimately saw seven owls … five Great Gray Owls and two Northern Hawk Owls. After all these “good shots”, I think it about time for a “owl bloopers post”. I have many! Stay tuned.

Northern Hawk Owl Demands Equal Time!

Great Gray Owl Take-Off!