This is a great time of year to rise before dawn to hear the chorus of birds — morning's cool, still air helps strengthen the sound of each bird's distinctive song. Adult birds sing exuberantly as they continue to establish bonds (some species have multiple clutches each year) and secure their territories. The Minnesota Conservation Volunteer’s interactive Minnesota Bird Songs web page is a great way to learn the songs of 24 common backyard birds. To help you learn how to identify birds without seeing them, check out Birding by Ear from the Bird Watcher's Digest.
During the month of June, baby birds are abundant. Listen for incessant chirping as these baby birds plead for their parents to bring them food. June hatchlings include American robins, Baltimore orioles, Eastern bluebirds, gray catbirds, chipping sparrows, house finches, purple martins, mourning doves, house wrens, barn swallows and tree swallows. Learn about hatchlings, nestlings and fledglings at June is Peak Fledging Season from the Birding Wire.
In early to mid-June, visit shallow prairie marshes and wetlands to view a variety of waterfowl and water birds, along with their young. Look for swans, egrets, herons, rails, grebes, coots, geese and ducks. The Crane Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Little Falls is an excellent location to view these birds.
June is also a great time to check out lakes in the northern two-thirds of the state for newly hatched common loon chicks riding on their parents' backs. Your chance of seeing these birds is good as Minnesota has more loons than any other state in the contiguous 48 states. If you love loons, the Minnesota Loon Monitoring Program is a great way to get involved with wildlife studies on lakes near you. Volunteers are needed to visit each lake one morning during a 10-day period (late June through early July) to count the number of adult and juvenile loons. The observations are then shared with the DNR. Thanks to hundreds of volunteers, there are more than 20 years of data on more than 600 lakes.
While the Avian Flu remains a severe threat to birds, far fewer cases were reported in the month of May. According to the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, “If you took down your bird feeder to help limit birds congregating and spreading the virus to each other, we anticipate that by the start of June, the wildlife transmission risk will be low enough that feeders could go back up." For updates, visit the Raptor Center's Avian Flu webpage.
Did You Know?
Occasionally, a nestling is found on the ground, inadvertently pushed out by their growing siblings. Fledglings, too, may be discovered out of their nests as they attempt their first flight. While our first instinct is to intervene, it may be best to leave the bird alone. According to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, featherless birds need to be in a nest. If possible, try to locate the bird's nest and carefully replace it — the parents will not reject it due to human contact or scent. If you cannot locate its nest, leave the baby bird on the ground so the parents can find it and continue providing care. Fledgling birds, however, often leave the nest before they are able to fly. If found, these fledglings should be left alone since their parents are usually watching them carefully. Learn more at What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird. If you determine that a baby bird has been injured, please consult with a Wildlife Rehabilitator near you.
Raptor fledglings should be handled in the same way. The University of Minnesota Raptor Center recommends leaving fledgling raptors alone since they are often unsuccessful on their first flight. They may remain on the ground a few days while strengthening their wings. However, if it appears that the fledgling is hurt and needs assistance, please contact the Raptor Center for advice.
BlackAFInStem will offer online events during Black Birders Week, May 29-June 4, 2022. This year's theme is "Soaring to Greater Heights." Learn more!
Great egrets are stunning white birds, slightly smaller than great blue herons. Egrets are always a treat to see in wetlands. According to the Zumbro Valley Audubon Society, a patch of skin on the egret's face turns neon green, and long plumes grow from its back during breeding season. Great egrets were nearly hunted to extinction for these plumes in the late nineteenth century. Egrets belong to the same family of birds as herons, so why are they called egrets? It turns out that the word "egret" is derived from the French word “aigrette” which means “plume feathers.” While there are dozens of species of herons, only six species of egrets have these decorative plumes. Learn more and hear their calls — while the birds are beautiful, their vocalizations are not!
Don't miss “Seeing Birds” running through Oct. 2 at the Bell Museum in St. Paul. This exhibition integrates art, science, and nature to ignite curiosity and wonder about the beauty and biology of birds, engaging visitors in an exploration of birds, their environments, and their evolution.
Carpenter Nature Center will host Trails and Ales on Thursday, June 2. Enjoy the beauty of the St. Croix River Valley with an after-hours hike at Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings. After the hike, the group will meet at nearby Spiral Brewery in Hastings for a guided tour of the beers on tap in the taproom and free beer!
Birds, Bogs, Bees and Bantams will be held Saturday, June 4 at a private 20-acre homestead located just north of Scandia that offers a variety of habitat such as hardwoods, prairie, wetlands, open water and bogs. Also enjoy a demonstration of beekeeping and bantam chicken operations.
Attend a casual Monthly Bird Walk on Saturday, June 4 at Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester 9–10:30 am. Meet by the Nature Center entrance.
Relax as you tune into the symphony of songbirds around you then create a visual art story of what you hear during Songbird Symphony on Sunday, June 5 at Eastman Nature Center in Dayton. Dress comfortably and bring a lawn chair. Hot beverages and all materials will be provided. Reservations required by two days prior.
Search for the birds of the varied habitats of the Weaver Dunes area near Kellogg during the Weaver Dunes Field Trip on Saturday, June 11. Plan for walking off-trail on uneven ground. Long pants, sturdy shoes and protection from the sun are recommended. Meet at the NW corner of the former Shopko North parking lot to carpool. Bring water and lunch. Free and open to the public — no registration required.
A Family Bird Hike will be offered at Richardson Nature Center in Bloomington on Saturday, June 11. Learn the basics of birding, using binoculars and identifying birds. Hike with a naturalist in search of birds in various habitats, observe and try to identify them. Reservations required by 24 hours prior.
Attend a citizen science birdwatching event, The Big Sit Bird Survey, at nine of the parks in the Three Rivers Park District on Saturday, June 11. During the Big Sit, birders will count all bird species seen from within a 25-foot circle. Drop in anytime to socialize and help add to the numbers. Previous birding experience is not required and equipment will be available.
Carpenter Nature Center will host Trails, Tails and Ales on Saturday, June 18. Celebrate spring with your four-legged friend! Dogs are welcome on all trails at CNC and the taproom at nearby Spiral Brewery. All dogs must be leashed for both the hike and the tasting.
See wild songbirds safely trapped, studied and banded with numbered rings and find out what scientists learn from these banded birds during a Bird Banding event at Lowry Nature Center in Victoria on Saturday, June 18. This program is entirely outdoors. Drop in anytime.
Enjoy Free Family Fun Day: Birds & Binoculars at Eastman Nature Center in Dayton on Sunday, June 19. Drop in anytime and learn how to use binoculars to identify birds, then enjoy a self-guided hike to look for birds. Staff will also introduce you to free birding resources such as the Merlin Bird ID app for smartphones.
On Saturday, June 25, participate in a Prairie Trail Birding Walk at Frontenac State Park in the town of Frontenac. Walk the Prairie Trail and along the forested edge of Pleasant Valley Lakelet and search for prairie and forest birds including meadowlarks, Dicksissels, bluebirds, various sparrows, other grassland birds, and raptors.
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