Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bulletin #105 – Duluth MN winter birds #3

David McDonald Photography
Friendswood Texas
March 16, 2010

Bulletin #105 – Duluth MN winter birds #3

Hello friends,

Duluth Minnesota in winter is a magnet for birders, as many specialized northern species (owls, grouse, finches, gulls etc) winter in the area. I spent 3 days last week there. For many birders, most of the birds found are lifers, and it was no different for me.

I was fortunate to be able to obtain the services of 2 expert guides.

Kim Eckert...web site
Sparky Stensaas...web site

There were a number of finch species (family Fringillidae) attracted to feeders in the winter. The most common genera are Carduelis (goldfinches) and Carpodacus (House Finch and cousins).
We did have some American Goldfinches at feeders as well as Pine Siskins (Carduelis pinus). These brown striped finches have yellow wing edge

However, the species I went to Duluth for were the northern carduelis species, that don't have any yellow at all. These are the Redpolls. The Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea) is a small (5.25") brown streaked finch with red cap, yellow bill and black lores and chin. The male also has a pink washed breast. The female in the second photo lacks this pink breast.

The closely related Hoary Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni) is much whiter overall with less breast streaking. We found a single bird of this species - a female. Like the Common Redpoll, the male has pink on the breast and the female in the photo lacks it. This split of Hoary Redpoll from Common Redpoll is a recent development. Both redpolls summer on the extreme northern tundra from Alaska to Greenland. This was a lifer for me.

The local carpodacus finch is the Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus). They are slightly larger at 6" in length. The male is almost all purple with brown streaking. Peterson likens it to a 'sparrow dipped in raspberry juice'. The female in the second photo, is just a small darkly streaked finch with a bold white eye-stripe.

The term grosbeak refers to a number of birds with large bills. There are several in the Cardinal family (Rose-breasted, Black-headed and Blue), but there also are several members of the finch family with that name. They are the Evening Grosbeak and Pine Grosbeak. We saw both of these birds, but the Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator) was the one on my target list, as I did not have photos of it. The male is a large (9") red finch with a large beak and 2 prominent white wing bars. It tends to stay high in the trees, but in winter comes to feeders and can be found on the ground.

The female is gray overall with yellow on the head, breast and rump.

The last bird of the cold weekend was another lifer, the Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus). This waxwing of the western boreal forests is a little larger (8.25") than the familiar Cedar Waxwing. Its coloration is grayer overall and it had more white on the wings. It also has the waxy red on the wings, but the wing edges are yellow. Also, the undertail coverts are rufous.

We found a flock of these birds in Ely, MN which happened to be the coldest place in the lower 48 states that day, at minus 17 degrees F

Hoar frost is the name of a phenomenon of ice crystals are deposited on objects on very cold nights. As we were out first thing in the morning at temperatures of -15 degrees F, we saw all the treetops coated in these ice crystals and made brilliant and sparkly in the sunlight. The frost melts off later in the morning as the temperature rises. The first photo shows a spruce tree top with the frost. It sure resembles our flocked Christmas trees.

The next 2 photos are deciduous leafless trees encased in hoar frost.

I will be leading a 9 day bird photography tour to Costa Rica in conjunction with Lillian Scott-Baer of Baer Travel March 3-11, 2011. We have worked out an itinerary to visit La Selva Preserve, Savegre Mountain Hotel in the central mountains for Resplendant Quetzal and other montane species and Wilson Botanical Gardens (Las Cruces). We have also retained the services of local guide Rudy Zamora to accompany us and locate and ID the birds for us to photograph. We will also have beautiful flowers and hopefully some mammals - tamanduas, monkeys etc.

I will be giving several talks in the evening on bird photography, Photoshop etc.

The price will be $1960 double to $2380 single. This includes hotels, all meals, guide, transportation in Costa Rica etc. The only other cost will be airfare and personal purchases (alcohol, souvenirs etc) . Space is limited to 10 persons to maximize our opportunity to see and photograph the birds. I have birded in Costa Rica previously. It is a wonderful country to visit and the bird life is exceptional. I hope that you can join us.

Here is the schedule of payments for the trip.
$ 25 reservation fee (not refundable)
$ 575 due April 30, 2010
$ 600 due July 30, 2010
$ 740 due January 15, 2011

Please send deposits to:

ScoBar Inc.
34 Galway Place
The Woodlands, TX 77382

Note - we will try to pair up singles and triple would be $1890 per person.

There are only 4 spaces left for this trip as of today, so please email me, if interested.

All comments and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald
email: davidkmcd@comcast.net

photos copyright 2010 David McDonald

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