Pipestem Creek

While in North Dakota, I had the good fortune to stay in a trailer converted into a cabin called the Bobolink on the property of Pipestem Creek. If you are planning a visit to North Dakota, I highly recommend staying here. The photos on their site show the cabin, it can sleep six if you are willing to share a double bed (I'm way too floppy in sleep and shouldn't inflict it on anyone apart from Non Birding Bill). Otherwise, it easily sleeps four--two double beds and two singles. It's cozy, clean, has a full kitchen and living room with bird, plant and mushroom books.

And I'm not sure why, but every time I took a shower, I thought of WildBird on the Fly.

And if you're wondering, yes there were bobolinks singing around the cabin. There is an incredible dawn chorus, which is worth the price of admission alone.

The loudest and earliest singer was the western kingbird. He started at about 4am.

Anyone who runs a wild bird specialty store is probably already familiar with Pipestem Creek. I was staying in a cabin on the property, but the company's main business is creating beautiful, edible seed wreaths.

All the parts of the wreaths come from nature (and almost all come from the farm or neighboring farms) and can be used as bird feeders. Most people hang them up for a bit indoors and then put them outside for the brds. Ann Hoffert, the owner has even appeared on Martha Stewart Living in November of 2002 demonstrating her mad stylin' wreath techniques.

Tours of the facility and production are available when you visit. I was so impressed when I went through. We carried some of these when I worked at the bird store and to see the process from creation to the shelf was pretty darned incredible. Ann also really loves the birds and is very involved in organizing and promoting the festival, she's as dedicated to preserving the birds and wildlife in her state as she is to her business. As a matter of fact, if you pick up a Birding Drives Dakota brochure, that's her in all the photos.

The birds around the property sure appreciated the business. This is a brown thrasher nest tucked into some honeysuckle right outside the widow of the assembly room.

The goldfinches covered the ground snarfing up all the spilled seed.

Killdeer nested along the gravel roadways, I found three pairs just along the gravel covered loading area in back.

And the birds loved the manure piles--look a that: he's king of the manure pile, master of all her surveys. When I was taking this photo, I was thinking, "Wow, what a great shot of a house sparrow--and it's on a manure pile--part of what made them so successful when establishing themselves in the 1850s!" Then I downloaded the photo and notice the stick up its vent (for non birders--that's the bird equivalent of the butt). Sigh, wish I had more time for Photoshop.

The manure pile was also covered with yellow-headed blackbirds. Here we go, a bird on a pile of poop, while in mid poop--you won't find a shot like that in Birder's World, but that's just how edgy we are at Birdchick.com and that's the way we roll. (Oh dear, I'm referring to myself in the plural third person...I think that's my last cup of coffee this morning). Anyway, while the bird was in mid poop, I noticed the yellow feathers around the vent. And I thought to myself, "Do yellow-headed blackbirds have a yellow vent?"

And as if the bird were able to read my mind, he turned around and mooned me. Yes, yes he does have a yellow vent. Who knew? Not me. I wonder how this bird ended up with a sensible obvious name and didn't end up being called after a part that is not readily seen? Why didn't early bird scientists call this the yellow-vented blackbird? I did a quick check of BNA and did find that it is listed as a distinguishing characteristic: "yellow feathers ring the cloaca."

Other birds around Pipestem Creek include orchard oriole (nesting) and Baltimore oriole (nesting). It's a cool place, and I highly recommend staying there.

Alright, now I have to get dressed and go deal with the bees. Whoot!