There could not be a better truism … doughnuts are a magical birding good, particularly if you are taking a five year old granddaughter on her first birding expedition. With more and more children growing up in huge urban areas, it is the responsibility of those of us who are fortunate enough to live with easily accessible wilderness to help the next generation learn an appreciation for the natural world.
Mya, one of my four grandchildren, just spent a week with us here on the edge of Duluth. Prior to taking her out birding I had scouted locations which were likely to result in a successful birding expedition both in terms of easily seeing birds, and providing enjoyment for a five year old. The mouth of the Lester River on Lake Superior was just the ticket for Mya and me. I knew birds would be present without much difficulty in terms of access, and we could also always spend time of the stone beach throwing rocks into the lake.
Mya (and me) had a great time. My friendly Merlins perched on dead tree branches where they were easily viewed. In addition, a bird which normally spooks easily, Belted Kingfishers, actually provided us easy views. Finally, on the way home we stopped off at the grocery store and purchased fresh doughnuts. After all … good birding always ends with doughnuts!
Mya and me with doughnuts
One of our Merlins
The Belted Kingfisher
Mya watching a Pileated Woodpecker from our deck after we returned. She is now able to identify between 10 and 15 birds by name in the field!
There has been a nice response to this post. I decided I should expand my approach on some of the ways I am teaching the next generation about birding. The first item is fairly obvious, easily viewable bird feeders. All my grandchildren love watching birds from inside our home. Viewing can be short and enjoyable … 30 Seconds!
In addition, for Christmas last year I was given “Birding Bingo”. This game has become a favorite, and only costs $12 via Amazon. Here is a screenshot. My grandkids don’t care much about winning, but warning … they like to fill the entire board! There are different versions of this game, but I like the one by Lucy Hammett Games … good “local” birds.
Summer starts tomorrow, but don’t tell the birds at the mouth of the Lester River on Lake Superior. While this birding location is definitely not a hotspot during the winter, come late spring and summer this is a great little spot … and only 1/2 mile from my House!
Given the time of year, I knew merganser chicks should have hatched. However, between Grandma’s Marathon last Saturday (lots of people), and ugly weather since … I knew a trip to the river mouth did not make much sense. However, this morning was sunny and calm … in short a great day for any Common Merganser mom worth her webbed feet to sun the little guys at the mouth of the river. Within seconds of arriving at the river I hit the jackpot. Using some butt scooting and crawling, the duck family let me get within 15 yards, and never spooked. It was a great morning.
The Common Merganser family of Lester River
Ten minutes later … wolfpack on the loose!
Belted Kingfisher gets in on the fishing
This Ring-Billed Gull wanted in on the action
Meanwhile … a hundred yards upstream … aerial combat was joined five seconds after I took this photograph. Four Blue Jays attacked a Merlin’s nest. The jays wanted eggs for breakfast. Three minutes of aerobatics ensued as the Merlins defended their turf.
Although our weather can be highly variable … with temperature drops of 30 degrees when the wind shifts off Lake Superior, our local populace has been busy either raising families, or making preparations.
Merlin Hunting for Breakfast (mouth of Lester River on Lake Superior)
Mom Always Liked You Best! (Trumpeter Swan family at MacQuarrie Wetlands)
My Cover Appears to be Blown!
Snapping Turtle Laying Down Eggs
Calling Out for a Mate (Wilson’s Snipe at the Roy Johnson Wetlands)
The weather is ugly! The route to Hudson Bay through Duluth is even worse!
Yup, the rains have come over the past few days, and the recreation fields at the end of Park Point have been turned into mud flats. The shore birds on their way up to Hudson’s Bay and points north love the food opportunities on these new mud flats to reload, rest and feed. There is one big problem for the shorebirds and all the song birds migration through the Duluth area … Merlins!
Park Point Playing Fields Marbled Godwit and Dunlins
Back on the Home Front … Amity Creek Eastern Towhee, Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, American Tree Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow and Blue Jays
At one point this afternoon, I had 40+ Blue Jays in the yard!
One of Many Merlins Tracking the Migration … Songbirds Beware!