So in Part 1 of Friday's adventures I mentioned that it was windy--sheesh. This cardinal photo isn't the best, but you can see how the wind is blowing his crest up. I was kind of the wuss about the cold. When Hellziggy and I were watching the tree swallows being whipped over the water, I suggested lunch and then birding from a nature center. Sensible and warm.
We went to the Minnesota River Valley Headquarters and did get quite a show from the turkeys. A tom and two hens came by and you could see another young tom keeping his distance. One of the females stayed behind to eat when the older tom left with a female. The young tom made his move, gradually foraging closer and closer to the hen. She was flirting right back, working her way towards him though appearing oblivious.
We weren't the only ones who had the idea of birding from a nature center. An older gentleman from Sweden came in. He was in town visiting his month old grandson. Come to find out that years ago he banded osprey and golden eagles. When I shook his hand--he had a firm grip--much needed for banding goldens (there were also a few scars from fast talons). He was very excited with just the basic birds, especially this red-bellied woodpecker.
As someone mentioned in the comments earlier, there is a great horned owl nest at Wood Lake Nature Center. We ended our day there. We only saw the female precariously perched on a small squirrel nest. When I met up with Stan Saturday night for our woodcock trip, he showed me photos he had taken that day with a half grown chick sitting next to the female in the nest. I think with the cold wind, she was incubating it when we were there.
Now, before anyone gets their undies in a bunch about me posting this owl nest let me clarify that the nest is right over an intersection of three paths right next to the nature center. Wood Lake naturalists are taking groups out there daily to look at the nest--many walk under it and the owls don't care. These owls made the informed decision to take over a nest in a well traveled area--these owls are not worried by humans. We watched a group of 14 walk right under the nest while I took this photo and she did not freak out.
I was surprised by how small the nest is, but I was told that it was much larger until last week when the wind started taking it away blow by blow, leaf by leaf. Based on Stan's photo of the chick, it is old enough for the "brancher" stage. This is when young owls still are unable to fly but have very strong feet--strong enough to stay on a branch in a stiff wind or to climb a tree trunk if they get blown down. Young owls are more in danger of being imprinted when raised by well-intentioned but uninformed people worrying they are out of the nest too soon.
I ended the day by going to a book signing by Mike Farrel (yeah, that's BJ from MASH) at Magers and Quinn. Our friend Ari Hoptman (very, very funny man--listen to his stuff on his website) is a huge MASH fan. He and Non Birding Bill share MASH trivia all the time. Mike's book is about his life from actor to activist. I wasn't sure if Ari could make it, so I went over to grab a book and have it autographed--the book store was packed. I lurked in the bird book section and listened during Mike's talk--it was interesting, he did a Q and A and he said first thing that he was happy to answer MASH questions, but my socially conscious neighborhood was more interested in his activism. Mike more than once said, "Please, I'll take MASH questions, don't hesitate to ask." The serious questions continued and then I heard Mike say he'd take two more questions and one of them turned out to be a MASH question--I also recognized the voice as Ari's. When it was over the signing started, Ari hadn't had a chance to buy the book yet so I gave him the copy I picked up and was even able to snap his photo while Mike signed away (above). Ari tried to say to Mike how much he appreciated his work and I said, "Oh Ari, don't pretend, you know you're here for the MASH."
Mike smiled and Ari called me a scamp and didn't kill me. Ah, good times.