It’s my hope that the title of this column has evoked that song, “The Boys are Back in Town,” but with that key word changed from “boys” to “birds.” If it didn’t then, it certainly is now.
I know a few Minnesota birds stuck it out all winter, but isn’t it nice to have all those summertime birds back? I’m a novice birdwatcher; I can identify a few birds and hold a general interest in them.
One motto I enjoy (which actually came from a TV show) is, “put a bird on it.” This simple saying applies to all manner of things, including clothing (especially T-shirts), handbags, shoes, accessories, my back yard, bushes, shrubs, trees and grass. There isn’t much that wouldn’t be better with a bird perched on it.
Like those nesting platforms along the highway. Beware if you see a white minivan coming at you through the bend in County Road 11 near the osprey nest, or on County Road 66 just north of Crosslake.
Blame it on the birds. I’m always craning my neck to see what those ospreys are up to. I’m looking forward to seeing a nest full of babies up there. Don’t worry; I’ll pull over.
Have you noticed the blue jays? Lately I get a glimpse of a blue streak in the corner of my eye and look to see a blue jay perched in a bush, and somehow just the sight of him is uplifting.
We’re also fortunate enough that we can see a bald eagle almost every day in this area. Nearly every trip by North Long Lake on Highway 371 yields the regal eagle in the treetops — maybe even two of them. And speaking of birds of prey, many summer nights have I been woken up by an owl hooting. No complaints here.
If you’re into birding, a good activity to look into is the Birds of the Byway program. The website, birdsofthebyway.com, has a map of all the best birding locations on the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway. There are also flyers around town on Discover Racks (at many businesses) that have a checklist of area bird species.
Additionally, a little ways south, the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd is classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR website says that IBAs are created to help the issue of habitat loss for birds. At the Northland Arboretum IBA, birders can see 136 species of birds, including sandhill cranes, hawks and various sparrows.
If songbirds are your favorites, I recently learned the DNR has a fun, interactive songbird poster with common birds. Click the birds and hear their song. It’s at dnr.state.mn.us/volunteer/julaug10/bird_songs_interactive.html.
It’s even better than having “The Birds are Back in Town” stuck in your head.