Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whitey: The Wandering Golden Eagle (Part 2)

He was injured, captured, rehabilitated and set free with a transmitter on board to find out from whence he came into the Mississippi Valley.  His name was Whitey and he was a Golden Eagle.....

Golden eagles were thought to be relatively rare in the hill and valley region bordering the mighty Mississippi river valley between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Most experts believed they were lost wanderers from the Rocky Mountain west. More interested birders, better equipment and knowledge of differentiating the big brown eagle from their immature Bald Eagles cousins, has  changed that opinion.

Goldens nest all the way up to the Arctic coast in Alaska and Western Canada. Their range maps in the older field guides show nothing along the western edge of Hudson Bay.

From late April to May, Whitey  flew from western Wisconsin north to Duluth Minnesota at the westernmost tip of Lake Superior. Then he crossed into Ontario, Canada. And then he kept on going and going and going. He flew past Churchill on the southern shore of Hudson Bay. Then further north along Hudson's Bays western edge. He traveled 2,382 miles, averaging 72 miles per day. His  longest one-day flight was 193 miles. From late May to early October, Whitey spent the summer wandering over an immense area of Nunavut — from the northern shore of Hudson Bay to a lake above the Arctic Circle. It had been a migration of astonishing proportions and came as a total surprise to everyone. Or as one of the experts said, “Wow!”

Then in the fall on October 7, he turned and headed back toward his winter home.  By early November, Whitey was back in southwestern Wisconsin after a 26-day, 1,750-mile migration.

Mark Martell, director of bird conservation for Audubon Minnesota said the finding has conservation implications. "These birds are cool, just cool," Martell said. "Here’s this huge, predatory bird that we weren’t even aware was here on a regular basis."

Their presence raises a serious issue — how best to protect them —. But more information is needed first.  Each year in late winter now under the direction and training of the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota, volunteers including the Troutbirders, have participated in a Golden Eagle survey.  About a hundred have been counted each year in the  surveys for the last ten years. before they head north to breed. In more recent years other Goldens have also be tracked.
The Rocky Mountain West hosts many of these birds year around.   On a fly fishing trip to the high country in  Montana my brother Greg and I once counted over thirty Goldens along the road.   World class amateur photographer Mona (Montanagirl) graciously allowed me to use one of her many wonderful pictures. Golden eagles are truly golden.  The picture and the link to her nature blog is shown below. Take a look.....


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whitey: The Wandering Eagle

This is Whitey, the Golden Eagle. He was accidentally caught in a legal trap in southwestern Wisconsin. Discovered by a bow hunter, he was brought to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota. From there he was immediately transferred to The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota.

With expert care the bird’s leg was eventually repaired. Whitey was then scheduled to be released back into the wild. The National Eagle Center and several public and private agencies all joined together in a partnership to further study wintering golden eagles in the area. To aid the study, satellite transmitters were provided by the Minnesota DNR Non-Game Wildlife Division.

For years there has been speculation as to where the Goldens, who winter in the Mississippi river valley, come from. Do they migrate from their heartland in the mountain west, across the great plains to Minnesota? Or do they come from the far north in Canada. Whitey would  provide the answer.

On March 24, 2009, at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota,  a satellite transmitter was attached to Whitey.  He was than brought to the release site near where he had been first trapped in Wisconsin. Then Scott Mehus, education director and Golden Eagle surveyor at the National Eagle Center, threw the bird back into the wild. Whitey took off, landed briefly in some nearby trees and then soared away, "free as a bird."

Golden eagles in North America are primarily found in the Western States and Provinces from Mexico through Alaska. There are also small breeding populations in northern Ontario and Quebec who are know to follow the Atlantic coast south. In Ontario the golden eagle is currently designated Endangered under the province’s Endangered Species Act, while in adjacent Quebec it is a candidate for Threatened or Special Concern status.

Golden eagles do not breed in Minnesota, Iowa or Wisconsin and had not been thought of as regular users of the Mississippi River Valley. In Minnesota there have been occasional reports of Golden Eagles in spring, fall and winter from most counties
Recent surveys started and coordinated by Scott Mehus of the National Eagle Center, and carried out by volunteer observers have uncovered an apparently regular wintering population numbering between 60 – 100 birds using the coulees and bluffs along the Mississippi River from Red Wing, MN to LaCrosse, WI.
A winter population of golden eagles along the Upper Mississippi River raises new and important management questions and challenges.  Knowing the breeding origin (or origins) of these birds is of high importance.  It is more than likely that these golden eagles breed in Canada and the size of the breeding population in northern Ontario is thought to be small and thus vulnerable. Their habitat use, preferred prey, and home range during the winter are information that will be needed to ensure appropriate management and conservation action in the Mississippi River Valley.
Whitey ended the mystery of where Bluff Countries golden eagles summered. Next I’ll show you how.....

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Wisconsin On Wisconsin

A week after Tony and the grandchildren returned
to Arizona, Mrs. T. and I decided on a little road trip over to Wisconsin.  The destination was the new headquarters building at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Just recently reopened after the Tea Parties folly, the day provided a big surprise. Are you ready for some birding?


After visiting the welcome center we hiked a boardwalk around the adjacent pond.
The it was back into the car where we headed further into the huge refuge looking for birds. Coming over a rise we noted about a half dozen large white waders in the distance.  Mrs. T. started shooting with her digital while I pulled over and grabbed my binoculars . Imagine,   instead of seeing  the expected Great Egrets I noticed the red caps......

Whoopers !!!!  Three pairs to be exact.  And my first "lifers" of 2013."  What a thrill.....:)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Day At The Zoo

We all had a great day at the zoo. It wasn't all that crowded either.  Some seniors  were there and lots of young moms pushing baby carriages.  Minnesota kids were in school and the three Arizona Grandkids  had two weeks off as Arizona public schools are basically year round with vacations every so often.....  Son Tony teaches high school chemistry and biology
Barb and Ray Troutbirder, native St. Paulites , retired teachers.
Born in Fargo, North Dakota, a 7th grader.
 Born in Ethiopia, a 4th grader.
Born in Rwanda, a first grader.
Son Tony, born Spring Valley, Minnesota and taught high school chemistry, physics and biology in Minnesota, Colorado and Arizona.
Next episode:  Hiking in Bluff Country.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grandkids take in a river museum.

The lead in to a week of frenetic activity was picking up the grandkids and son Tony at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa airport.  After an overnight in Cedar Rapids,  we headed home to Minnesota and stopped on the way in Dubuque, Iowa to see the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. River fish and animals, interactive exhibits, river boats of all types and descriptions were all there. The kids loved it.

Naturally, being a Mississippi River guy, Mark Twain was there to greet us. 
The next day we headed off the Minnesota Zoo in the Twin Cities. Well, you get the idea of how it went......:)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Grandkids

We recently had some visitors from far away Arizona.  It was son Tony and the Grandkids.   Here we are standing in front of some Belgian draft horses who had taken us for a wagon ride in a local apple orchard. 
Visiting the Minnesota Zoo.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

For Dog Lovers

She wandered into Steve and Jewels farm at Easter time and stayed. So they named her "Lily."  She's been there ever since. Lily is a good girl.
Jewel sent us some pictures......

In memory of the my big guy..... Baron

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cuteness Personified

Some shots from my cousin Terry in Idaho.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Black Hills Adventure (Part III)

The Black Hills were at their glorious best when we and friends Gary and Rosie camped for a week there in September.
Not so crowded as during the  heights of the tourist season in July and August there was plenty of space to tour and hike the countryside.  A week is hardly adequate to enjoy everything but we made a good effort.  
There are many scenic "byways" but the Needles Highway is one of the best.  Winding through a beautiful forest and narrow tunnels cut into magnificent rocky outcroppings, the narrow road is really for tourists only driving at a slow pace. Come on along....

The hiking views were also spectacular as we followed The French Creek Trail beneath some red bluffs.
Having had a couple of  spills this summer Troutbirder chose to slide down any rocky inclines on his butt!
The trail along Bismarck lake revealed a mirrored view.  A little tired after all the activity, the Troutbirders sat down to rest up a bit.
Well, sorta...