Good weather causes birds to head north
DULUTH, Minn. -- Birds large and small took advantage of good weather to move north last week.
The highlight of the week occurred on Tuesday, when 679 bald eagles were counted by Karl Bardon and friends at the West Skyline Hawk Count. That's a whoppin' big day for eagles at the spring count, which is sponsored by Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.
The record is 822, set in March 2004.
So far this spring, 895 bald eagles had been counted by Tuesday.
The trumpeter swans that nest on Stone Lake near Zim were back on Sunday, according to Shirley Denzler, who lives there. Two adults and two juveniles returned.
By Wednesday, five Canada geese had returned, too, Travis Denzler said. Only a small strip of open water was available for the swans and geese, he said.
Gary Larson of Sandstone reported a chipmunk filling its cheeks with bird feed on Tuesday, and Pete Gravett of Hartley Nature Center in Duluth said the chipmunks are active again in Duluth.
Chipmunks are not true hibernators, Gravett said. They are deep-sleepers that go into "torpor," waking every few days to look around. But they don't feed during the winter.
Slate-colored juncos also are on the move, Gravett said. They're smallish birds that flit out of your way on rural roadsides, flashing their white outer tailfeathers as they go.
A few robins have been calling, and more seem to be around at Hartley than the half-dozen counted at the site's Christmas Bird Count, Gravett said.
Three Canada geese were seen on a small patch of open water at Hartley Pond this past week, Gravett said.
The Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune is owned by Forum Communications Co.