Thursday, May 30, 2013

Great Egret

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Order: Ciconiiformes     Family: Bitterns, Herons and Egrets (Ardeidae)

The Great Egret is also known as the Great White Egret or the Common Egret. It is a little smaller than the Great Blue Heron, 94-104 cm (37-41 in) compared to 117-132 cm (46-52 in) for the Great Blue Heron. The bill is normally yellow except during the breeding season it may appear orange, as this one does. Also note the feather plumes extending back beyond the tail. These are also found during the breeding season.

The Great Egret feeds on small fish of course, but also on frogs, crayfish, snakes, and insects. They generally nest in colonies and build their nests using sticks and twigs fairly high in the trees. Both sexes incubate the eggs.

The National Audubon Society uses the Great Egret as their symbol.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

Order: Charadriiformes     Family: Sandpipers (Scolopacidae)

The Wilson’s phalarope is a small bird: 20-23 cm (8-9 in)

Unlike most bird species, the female phalaropes are the most colorful and bright of the two sexes. The females compete for the males. The male build the nest. And after the female lays the eggs, she leaves the parenting up to the male. They breed in wetlands and marshes across western North America and they winter in South America. Generally, they feed on mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, crane flies, and some seeds of aquatic plants. As you see in the video they sometimes feed by swimming in circles. This disturbs the water and helps bring food to the surface. Often the words swirl, whirl, or twirl is used to describe a group of phalaropes. But my favorite is a ‘whirligig’ of phalaropes.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Genus: Sanguinaria      Family: Papaveraceae (Poppy)

Bloodroot is one of the earliest blooming flowers.  It is native to Minnesota and in fact most of eastern North America. It likes partial to full shade in moist to dry woods. And yes, if you break the stem is does ‘bleed’ a red juice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

White-faced Ibis

White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)

Order: Ciconiiformes             Family: Ibises (Threskiornithidae)

The White-faced Ibis is a rare visitor to Minnesota. Generally they range south of Minnesota and South Dakota, but they are sporadic breeders in the north. They are a fairly large bird at 51-66 cm (20-26 in). They have a long downward curving bill. Both sexes appear similar.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Order: Falconiformes     Family: Osprey (Pandionidae)

One of the first posts I made in this blog was a picture of a highline tower with two nests in it. One nest was above the other ( When I went back last week I found an Osprey sitting on the top nest, the bottom nest was empty.

The Osprey eats live fish almost exclusively. After they catch a fish they turn it headfirst for the flight back to the nest. Their feet have four toes, one if which is reversible so prey can be gripped with either three toes forward and one backward, or two toes forward and two backward. Except for Antarctica, they can be found on every continent in the world.