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April 15th, 2009 - More Signs of the Times

More signs of spring in the heartland. Red-breasted woodpecker sticking his tongue out to flypaper some tasty grub. I know it sounds ludicrous, but woodpeckers have incredibly long tongues that actually encircle their brainpan to act as a shock-absorber for all that hammering. This guy's is just barely starting to come out. I've seen the bird-bander at Springbrook blow people's minds by pulling their tongues out about three inches. Brings a new meaning to the term "tongue in cheek."

Nice puffy spring pussy-willows. Actually this sprig had about four phases of puffiness all on the same branch. The slightly green and spotty youthful ones, the just beginning to crack their hulls tight white Q-tip ones, the well-formed super puffs with the hulls breaking loose, and the already fuzzed-out Einstein hair ones that the hull had already dropped off. Metamorphosis.

Next we got to see a mother bald eagle camping out on the nest. She must have been protecting some eggs as she ducked down into the trenches as too much activity neared.

Geez, what a nest! Look at the size of that thing. Some eagles nests have weighed in around the 1500 lbs. range.  Somewhat like having a Volkswagen Beetle up in your tree.  Somehow they know to pick the right tree to park a Volkswagen Beetle in.

Song Sparrow, I think. So many sparrows. It was very happy on it's perch by the high water of the Minnesota River.

And what spring phenology list would be complete with our friend the Red-winged blackbird, a.k.a. 'RWBB.'  This gentleman was definitely protecting a nest near the base of the eagle nest tree, reading us the riot act for spending too much time in the neighborhood. His expression looks diplomatic enough. "I got nothin' a'gin ya, I'm jus tryin' ta prolong my species here." 

I can dig it. Happy Spring. Welcome back, Sir.


Anonymous said...

I believe that's a red-bellied woodpecker. Breast was close, just a little high.

dignature said...

Woops, I believe you are correct. All I remember is that it has a red head, but is NOT a red-headed woodpecker, then my logic is all derailed after that. Red-bellied, rose-breasted, redneck, scarlet, rosy, red-throated... this is one of my peeves about birds. Maybe the Latin has some clues, I'll have to check on that and get back to you.