Powderhorn Bird Watch – November 2013
by John Karrigan
I can’t complain about the lack of park path construction this month. The day before my complaining in last month’s column came out, there were six trucks carrying various supplies and equipment parked at the park before the workweek started. And the workers were working like mad most of the month, with generally very good attitudes and putting in lots of hard work. Various workers commented to me about liking the park and its natural beauty. However, various people in the neighborhood have commented about not liking the results of the path project. The Park Board is going to have people at the Powderhorn Community Café event, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., on Thursday, November 21, at the PPNA office, to discuss the project and I am sure there will be a lot of local citizens and much to discuss.
Now, away from the path project and on to the birds and nature of the greatest park and neighborhood in the city. The highlight of the month had to be the Bald Eagle sightings that were regular for about ten days, from October 7 on.
Of course the sightings started on the best street in the best neighborhood:
15th Avenue. Various excited children and adults pointed it out to me as I was walking to the park. The very stately and mature Eagle promptly flew into the park when it saw me coming, and waited for me, about 30 feet up in a moderate sized hardwood tree near the corner of 15th Avenue and 35th Street. I have seen a lot of Eagles in a lot of places since Eagles made their great comeback, and I’ve been up close to various captive Eagles at the Raptor Center and the National Eagle Center, but had never been as close to a wild Eagle as I was to this one in the park. For the following 10 or so days, I and various people saw the Eagle (or possibly the second Eagle which was also around) in various settings at various times in the neighborhood. The Eagle was seen on apartment house roofs, various trees, flying down my alley, etc. I watched it for an hour, starting at sunrise on October 12, on a tall, north-side-of-the-lake light pole, not one of the small sidewalk lights, and on another occasion, I saw it take a small fish from the lake on a low west-to-east pass over the lake. Some path construction workers saw the bird after small fish parts started coming down on them as they took a break. They naturally were surprised and soon found the Eagle perched above them, possibly perched with a Perch. Perhaps the bird, or birds, are still around but I have not seen it lately. Anytime a person came near me when I was near the bird, I would point it out to them, and many people, in various Eagle situations would ask me if the Eagle (or Eagles) were going to stay. A few of the many Bald Eagles now in the area are nesting fairly close to civilization (if that’s what we have now) so I suppose there is a very small, but unlikely chance this could happen here. Of course, if Eagles did decide to nest here, it would be just one more thing establishing this as the best neighborhood in the city, possibly in the world.
On to other birds and things. A Belted Kingfisher was around the lake about the same time as the Eagle(s), and of course it was also fishing. It spent most of its time observing the lake from various island trees.
I only saw one member of the Heron family at the lake in October, a Black-crowned Night Heron, on the east end of the island on October 26, and yes, it was at night when I saw the Night Heron. I know there were various Herons and Egrets still in the area in October but I saw no others at the park.
The usual water birds, Canada Geese, Mallards, Wood Ducks, Ring-billed Gulls, and a few Cormorants are still hanging around the lake and probably will through some of November.
Between the construction project, odd weather and other disruptions, I did not do a good job at spotting many fall migrants in the park or neighborhood this year, but I did see various sparrows including Fox Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, unable-to-figure-out sparrows and lots of Juncos. Many of the Juncos will stay in the park and yards all winter.
Nothing new in the yard lately but the Goldfinches are, as happens every year, no longer gold.
Hopefully the park and yards will have various interesting winter visitors, such as the flying squirrels I look for every winter. I have seen them only a few of the many winters I have been here.
Not too far from the great Powderhorn area, I saw three wild turkeys, grazing in the grass along East River Road near the U of M hospitals a few day ago, on October 29. It was a pleasant and unexpected late afternoon sight. I hope my readers have pleasant and unexpected fall and winter sights.
Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of the Southside Pride. Thank you.