Wishin' for a Dickcissel

Today is my wedding anniversary so first Non Birding Bill and I did KARE 11 and then spent the day meandering around Uptown. Our schedules are so active that it's a treat just to have a day to not do anything in particular. He was very thoughtful and got me a Bent Book, and my collection is almost complete. I don't know what I will get for holidays once I have the complete Bent Life Histories of North American Birds.

I did break away late this afternoon because I had a hankerin' to see a dickcissel. I headed towards the Empire Substation in Dakota Co and found the usual suspects:

Clay-colored sparrows
Western meadowlarks
Eastern meadowlarks
Chipping sparrows
Brown thrashers
American kestrels
Red-tailed hawk
Eastern kingbird
But no dickcissel!

I lolligagged for an hour and then got back in the car. As I drove back I noticed a sparrow in a tree. I stopped the car, checked the rear view and reversed. There in all its glory was a dickcissel, singing his heart out and even posed for quick digiscope with my binoculars:

The KARE 11 today segment was the big reveal of the backyard makeover contest. For those that don't know, we had a contest where people could write in an essay of 100 words or less on why they need a backyard birdfeeder makeover. The winner got a makeover of up to $1000 worth of product. We put in to separate poles with multiple feeders and even erected a wood duck house. Even with all that was put up we didn't quite get to $1000 so I gave her the remainder as a gift certificate. I know she wants a heated bird bath and we don't really have too many in stock at the moment so I figure she can come in this fall and pick one out with her remaining winnings.

Great birds were all over her yard. We did a live shot from the winner's backyard and we even brought Cinnamon (one of my disapproving rabbits) along for fun. The winner's daughter has been in my store and loves that bunny. Cinnamon was surprisingly relaxed with the kid, which is unusual. But this girls seemed to have a way with animals. As we set up the shot orioles, downy woodpecker and goldfinches showed up right away. Five minutes before the segment, a broad-winged hawk cut low across the yard. Bill was a tad concerned for Cinnamon's safety but I reassured everyone that the hawk's flight path was after something in another direction and that Cinnamon is too huge for any raptor to pick her up...except maybe a harpy eagle but we shouldn't see any of those loose in Minnesota. Here's some of the feeders we set up:

Note the oriole on the orange recycled feeder in the center.

The winner had just purchased her home and gave us a quick tour. She hadn't furnished her home yet (this is a woman after my own heart, she just moved into a home and what's the first thing she gets done? Not furniture, not painting but installing bird feeders and gardens). Anyway, her home came with the coolest ceiling lamp ever!

If I had room in my apartment, I would have offered to buy the lamp off of her, but I think her kids liked it too much anyway. Plus, bringing home a giant chicken lamp might not be to Non Birding Bill's taste.