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Spring watch: Snow and cold don't deter the northward migration

It's been a yo-yo spring. We've been yanked back and forth between some gorgeous days and some hideous days. But the wild things manage to persevere in the face of these temporary returns to what seems like early March.

It's been a yo-yo spring. We've been yanked back and forth between some gorgeous days and some hideous days. But the wild things manage to persevere in the face of these temporary returns to what seems like early March.

Jon Abraham of Chisholm filed this report on April 21: "During my three hours of snow shoveling on Saturday the 16th, I had a large flock of juncos, as compared to just a few during the week before. I also saw two beautiful male goldfinches, and chipping and tree sparrows." Abraham also reported seeing his first loons on Longyear Lake on April 20.

Nancy Hodsdon of South Range says a black bear pulled down a bird feeder on the side of her house last week.

Bob Espenson of Duluth says the pelicans are back in huge numbers as they pause on their migration at Perch Lake in far western Duluth. They make loons and geese look quite small by comparison, Espenson said.

Deb Ortman of Hermantown did her civic duty for a hermit thrush the other day. She said last Sunday that she had had several hermit thrushes in her yard for about a week eating sunflower seeds.

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"Unfortunately, a hermit thrush hit one of our front windows April 23 and knocked itself out," Ortman said.

She scooped it up in a towel and kept it for a few hours in a closed box near a warm air vent and then took the box outside. The thrush survived and flew away.

Gene Dessellier of Babbitt, a self-described "amateur backyard birdwatcher," said on April 24 that he had spotted a merlin twice terrorizing the blackbirds and finches on his backyard feeder. On April 18 and April 22 it swooped across the feeding area but wasn't successful in knocking anything down.

"Since I started recording bird sightings about 10 years ago, I have identified 69 different species in my backyard, plus another 44 in the general area. Probably the most unusual one was the white-headed grackle two years ago," Dessellier said.

Diane Hilden of Duluth says, "My backyard has been 'a-flutter' the past couple of weeks. The usual chickadees, house finches, purple finches, pine siskins, bluejays, red- and white-breasted nuthatches have now been joined by juncos, fox sparrows, American tree sparrows, white-throated sparrows and a possible sighting of a song sparrow. The occasional visit by the now brightly colored male goldfinches provides a welcome splash of color."

Looking ahead:

Naturalist and author Larry Weber of Wrenshall has kept records of seasonal sightings in the Duluth area for 30 years. In the week ahead, Weber says, look for the following:

Migrant birds: Yellow-rumped warblers are joined by pine, palm, Nashville, magnolia and black-and-white warblers and singing ovenbirds. Early swallows are joined by barn swallows. Look for the arrival of spotted and solitary sandpipers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, veery, catbirds and brown thrashers.

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Frogs: The early trio of wood frog, chorus frog and spring peeper is joined by northern leopard frogs.

Spring wildflowers: The early hepaticas are joined by the blooms of spring beauty, wood anemone, bloodroot, marsh marigold, violets.

Talk to us:

We'd like to hear about your signs of the emerging season. Here's how to reach us:

  • E-mail us at outdoors@duluthnews.com
  • Call our Spring Watch hotline at (218) 720-4131 and leave a message. Be sure to give us your full name and tell us where you live.

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