On Saturday morning, I woke up at 4am, got my stuff together and headed out to Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center for the Minnesota BioBlitz (you try to see document as much wildlife as you can in a 24 hour period). It's southwest of the Twin Cities on a bluff along the Minnesota River. It's relatively new and I was excited to find an adult lark sparrow feeding young as soon as I stepped out of my car.
This was a catbird that we banded that morning. There was a band of park rangers on hand to help out with the BioBlitz. I was there to lead a bird walk at 6 am and then we helped out with the center's banding demonstration. There are nesting blue-winged warblers and prothonotary warblers along some of the trails--I was excited to see them...but was defeated by mosquitoes. The staff at the center warned us about them.
I've been around the block in this state, mosquitoes are ravenous here. But usually some appropriately placed DEET products keep them at bay. Not these. The staff advised us to use mosquito netting, but I foolishly declined since I really can't see well through my optics with netting. The bug spray I applied did not create the bug barrier I hoped, but instead seem to serve as a nice hollandaise sauce for the insects. We heard and glimpsed some great birds: blue-wings, prothonotary warblers, black-billed cuckoos, but alas, did not stop to watch them well--the mosquitoes were so bad, I ceased worrying about West Nile and focused on anemia. They flew into my ears, my nostrils, I had so many on my hand, it felt like a soft paint brush dabbing my skin. It was brutal. I still trying to decide if all the bites are some strange poem written in pink Braille or a connect the dot puzzle in the shape of Alaska.
We only banded three birds that day, but the biggest highlight was a male indigo bunting! Talk about a crowd pleasing bird! I didn't plan it, but my nail polish ended up matching his plumage. After I finished with the BioBlitz, Non Birding Bill and I headed out to Mr. Neil's to enjoy some beer butt chicken and check the bees (more on that later). I noticed he had an indigo bunting singing in his yard.
He's had indigo buntings around his property (last year a male would sing right over the Olga and Kitty hives when we would do inspections). This is the first time that I had ever noticed one nesting right in the backyard. He sang as we ate dinner outside and when I headed towards where he was singing, he valiantly defended his territory. Awesome! Here is a a video of him singing his song. Some birders think that they are saying "Fire! Fire! Where? Where? Here! Here! See it? See it?"
Do you hear that?