Tag Archives: Minnesota Point

Rescuing Sky, the Snowy Owl!

Thanks to all who helped me with our Snowy Owl rescue out on the Duluth Harbor ice. I delivered the Snowy, now named “Sky” to Wildwoods (as in Sky Harbor Airport). The owl is very thin, but there was no evidence of any car strikes. 
  • Tom: Thanks for going home to get the wood and fish net. Duct tape is an amazing product. With it we were able to construct a 20 yard long rescue device.
  • Judy: Thanks for your initial concern, and sticking it out with me. It is your video of the actual rescue included with this post.
  • Ginny: Thanks for all your photos, and the blanket which I used to warm up with when I got out of the harbor. My feet and legs were frozen.
Some history about our efforts. I first spotted the owl shortly before sunrise sitting out on the ice. A sighting of this kind is not unusual … actually rather common. I took a few photos and left the owl alone. Returning after church I discovered the owl had only moved a few feet in hours. It did not take notice of us, even when we tried to scare and flush it.
 
Having hand rescued a Snowy Owl back in October, with thanks to Frank Nicoletti who is the head bander at Hawk Ridge, I knew how to hand capture this owl. The ice was very thin. Thus I was not willing to walk out on said ice. With our Snowy Owl capture device, I waded in up to my knees … breaking the ice (some nice cuts on my shins), and pushed the ice out of the way. I then netted the snowy and pulled it back to where I could grab the owl. As soon as possible upon getting on shore we put a blanket over the snowy to try and limit its stress.
 Video of Snowy Owl Rescue

A few more notes … In the morning, the owl appeared to be fine. When I returned after church I heard it had not moved at all. In addition, a person who was near by had taken dogs for a walk. When that person first got out of their car, the dogs ran over to the owl (the dogs did not attack or touch the owl). I knew that in the Arctic where Snowies nest both Arctic foxes and wolves would be perceived as dangerous by an owl. Thus, any owl that would not move or fly away when confronted by canines had to be in need of help.
Video Taken at Sunrise

 I had never expected to hand capture a Snowy Owl back in October. I told everyone it was a once in a lifetime experience. Well … with the irruption of Snowies I have now worked at saving two owls. I hope Sky recovers. It is in good hands.
 
I will post updates about Sky on my blog.
Oh yes … yesterday I also saw a health Snowy Owl in the Duluth area!

Snow Storm Birding! (videos)

Duluth is also known at the Arctic Riviera. Thus, when a snow storm hit two hours before dawn, it was a HUGE invitation for me to get outside with my camera. Today’s wind is out of the northeast which mean big waves as they coming rolling down hundreds of miles of open water of Lake Superior. Thus, rather than being a “stay inside” type of day, I’ve had a great time outdoors. I will admit to having gotten wet due to the sloppy snow, but birding was easy. The snow concentrated birds in prime birding locations. However, taking photographs was a challenge! 🙂

Blue Morph Snow Goose Family

Snow Bunting

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Snow Geese in the Snow Videos

Wave Videos from Canal Park: The first video was taken from the 2nd floor of the Duluth Marine Museum. For the second video I had moved outside, but unlike folks seen in my first video, I am well back of the Lakewalk. The waves were throwing up on shore 20 to 30 pound rocks. The tourists did not realize they were in danger … not from the waves but thrown rocks. I warned a few folks before I went back to my car.

And a photograph of our house from an hour before sunrise this morning, just as the storm was really getting started in the Duluth area.

Birds of the High Arctic .. in Minnesota

Folks like to see “northern” birds, and for that opportunity they could charter a bush pilot and fly into a remote lake near the Arctic Ocean, or they could visit Duluth in the late fall and winter. In a little over a month the visitor center at Sax-Zim Bog will open for the winter. I look forward to another winter of helping out at the center as a volunteer naturalist.

In the meantime one may enjoy the late fall migration along the north shore of Lake Superior. In the past few days I have enjoyed watching:

  • Hundreds & hundreds of Slate Colored Juncos
  • Large numbers of
    • Horned Larks
    • Lapland Longspurs
    • Snow Buntings
    • American Tree Sparrows
  • One Ross’s Goose (Park Point Recreation Fields)
  • Many, many Merlins chasing songbirds for breakfast
  • One Short Eared Owl (dune grasslands while hiking out to the Superior Entry)
  • At my own feeder:
    • Woodpeckers … Downy, Hairy, Red-Bellied, and Pilleated
    • Finches … Purple and Gold
    • Chickadees and Nuthatches (red and white breasted)
    • Mourning Doves
    • Juncos
    • White-Crowned Sparrows
    • Fox Sparrows
    • Cardinals
    • A Gray Fox (15 minutes under the feeders eating 50 minutes before sunrise)

Here are a few images from the past two days … a video of the snow buntings is included.

Ross’s Goose

Merlin (imitating a turkey … don’t think the songbirds were fooled!)

Lapland Longspur (just a few minutes after sunrise)

Snow Buntings

Slate-Colored Juncos