My New Book


Prepping For The Bio Blitz 2009

Friday was a fun and active day–between the weather, the birds and friends it was just a day where you look around and think, “Isn’t great to be alive?”  It’s been wonderful to come home to spring birds and many of the Minnesota migrants have returned–even the common nighthawk, I heard one outside of the apartment my first night home.


We did some banding at Carpenter Nature Center and though we didn’t get huge amounts of birds, we got a good variety–especially woodpeckers.  Above is a downy woodpecker male, we got in two of those, plus a hairy and a red-bellied woodpecker.   I completely missed the red-bellied because…


… fellow bander Larry showed me shots of a scarlet tanager that was singing along the oak savanna trail at Carpenter.  Since it was slow, I took off after it.  The tanager was singing on territory and moving around like crazy.  It was a challenge getting him in decent light (the best I could do was the above photo) and then I just gave up to watch him…that red is practically impossible to recreate and sometimes it just fun to watch a bird with your eyes, not with your camera’s viewfinder.

After banding, I met up with a group who are helping to plan the Minnesota BioBlitz.  It’s going to happen in the National Park that I work in: The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area–specifically in Crosby Park.


Here is one of the many indigo bunting males staking claim on some territory along one of the trails–they should still be around for the BioBlitz June 12 – 13, 2009.  We’re going to catalog all the wildife we can find from bugs to plants to birds to mammals to reptiles to fungus and everything in between.  We’ll have walks, rides on a river boat, bird banding, and a whole host of stuff.


While walking the trails, a fellow ranger said, “I haven’t seen a pileated woodpecker in a long time. I’d like to see one again.” Within 2 minutes of her saying that, a male showed up.  He stuck his head in a hole right off the trail…I’m about 90% certain he was feeding something inside the hole.  He then flew off to another tree and did some territorial drumming.  Here’s a video:

YouTube Preview Image

It never ceases to amaze me how effortless woodpeckers look when they make that loud drumming sound. Incredible creatures.

Crosby is going to be a great spot for the BioBlitz–it’s in the metro area, so it’s easy to get to. Since it’s right on the Mississippi River, there’s going to be some great wildlife to see.  If you are in the area, you should check it out, it’s free and open to the public.


6 comments to Prepping For The Bio Blitz 2009

  • Larry Sirvio

    Sharon – Why do you suppose it is so hard to photograph the red of the scarlet tanager. There are some other species that are equally difficult to photograph – many of them red but not all. Is it a camera sensor issue or maybe some structural issue with red feathers?

  • That is a really good question. I wonder if it’s the quality of the camera? The tanager looks unbelievable through the glass of the scope but the camera doesn’t pick it up. The glass on my scope is spectacular, but the glass on my point and shoot is not.

  • “Come on dude, bonk!” Love the video!

  • Sharon…you talk to birds the same way we do. Calling a pilated “Dude” and “bonk” means that we would totally love to bird with you. Our local pilated, you remember, the one I bumped the guard rail with my van for…, we call him Leah’s buddy. My wife. She is nutty for wood peckers and when ever we hear him laughing away in the woods we say that he and Leah have and inside joke, but it always makes her smile.

    Thanks. We’re bonkers for birds.

  • I participated in a bioblitz in Rock Creek Park (another urban national park) a few years ago, and it was a lot of fun. It was especially interesting to see the park at night. I imagine it’s pretty exhausting for the rangers, especially the ones working the night shift.

  • I love your blog! I’m a new reader, btw :)
    The first time I saw pileated woodpeckers was in my backyard (in Virginia) about 4 years ago. There were 3 of them in the trees, and that was the last time I saw them! Very beautiful birds. That bioblitz sounds really fun, I wish I could go!