birds

A great blue heron.

 

This is a special time of year when abundant warm and sunny days are enhanced by the sights and sounds of birds with their fledglings. 

Birders and non-birders alike are delighted by the sight of common loon parents with chicks on their backs. While loon chicks can swim just after hatching, they usually ride on their parents’ backs where they are most safe. Listen for the distinctive calls echoing across large Minnesota lakes. Haunting wails are used to communicate and relay location, and the laughter-like tremolos are used as an alarm call and to defend territory. 

Minnesota lakes, rivers and wetlands offer the sights and sounds of many waterbird species and their young. Look and listen for ducks, grebes, swans, geese, mergansers, herons and egrets. 

Also enjoy the interesting antics of the American white pelican. These graceful fliers work together to corral fish into the shallows of southern and western Minnesota’s prairie pothole lakes. 

Did You Know?

Each summer, following nesting season, most waterfowl lose and replace their feathers. During this molting process, ducks, geese and other waterfowl species are unable to fly. They are also much more vulnerable. But towards the end of July, these birds will be able to fly once again. This is also when their young will be attempting to fly for the first time.

While the fall migration seems a long way off, a few shorebird species are already heading to wintering grounds in Central and South America. Some of the earliest species to migrate include lesser yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers, least sandpipers, solitary sandpipers and pectoral sandpipers. Many of these birds have completed their short nesting period and their young are now self-sufficient. A second migration occurs in September when the young begin their journeys south. 

According to The Birding Wire’s Water Attracts All Birds, the best way to draw a variety of birds to your backyard is to provide a reliable source of water. 

Not only do birds need a consistent source of water to drink from, they need water to maintain healthy feathers. 

Partially filled bird baths offer a supply of shallow water so all birds, including smaller bird species such as finches and warblers, can drink and bathe. 

Try to place your birdbath in a shady area near trees and/or shrubs to keep the water cooler on hot summer days and to provide the birds an easy escape if threatened.

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