Spring Is For The Birds

A little collection of feathered visitors during spring bird migration on the North Shore of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota.

After a long, cold, snowy winter, we have finally turned the corner along the North Shore of Lake Superior and in the woods of Superior National Forest in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota. The lakes have only recently opened up from their frozen, icy, winter covering. The rivers raged with historic, record breaking levels along the North Shore as the snow-pack and spring melt moved downstream. You can still find some snow in the shadows of the woods, but for the most part, signs point to spring. The cow moose are currently giving birth to this years calves and the bull moose are just starting to sprout their velvet covered antlers. Bears are awake and on the hunt for this years crop of nuts and berries and the deer seem to be moving into the woods, away from the shore. All good signs. All welcome signs. For me, one of the most reliable signs that spring may truly be here is the arrival of the variety of spring birds to the area. Weather it’s at the feeders in my yard, along the shores of Lake Superior, deep in the woods of Superior National Forest or just along Highway 61, there are always signs of the arrival of a new season if you are watching closely. You can almost predict who is going to show up and when.

Here’s a collection of feathered spring arrivals to the North Shore woods, along Lake Superior and in my yard the past few weeks. Keep your binoculars and bird books handy on your next spring visit. You never know what you’ll see flitting around in the trees this time of year.

Warblers are a nice arrival in late April and May in our area. The yellow-rumped is one of the earliest. It’s always nice to see those little flashes of yellow that give them away. Here are just a few that I have seen so far this spring. I’ll include a few of the strikingly beautiful, black-throated blue warbler that graced me with it’s presence in my own yard.
Prints available of these and many others at this link. Thanks for your support!
https://thomasjspenceimages.smugmug.com/2022/

Yellow-rumped warbler – Tofte, MN
Yellow-rumped warbler – Tofte, MN
Tennessee warbler – Schroeder, MN
Ruby Crowned Kinglet female – Tofte, MN – May 2022
Black-throated blue warbler – Tofte, MN – May 2022
Black-throated blue warbler – Tofte, MN – May 2022

You can’t imagine the thrill…
I was on my deck photographing a red-headed woodpecker that has been hanging around. I had ok light and it was eating worms in my yard, so I was standing still on my deck waiting with my camera in hand and ready. From the corner of my eye, a small bird landed. In a flash, I went through the ID process in my mind. Chickadee? No. Nuthatch? No. Warbler?!?! Yes. It stood on my deck for a second, flew to a branch for a second, landed on my railing for a second and landed on a planter for a second. It was a great yard bird to have visit and I’m glad I was ready! You can click on these to open the gallery.

Tennessee warbler (I believe!) Tofte, MN
Having a tough time confirming ID on this warbler. Comment if you know! Cape May? Pine? Bay Breasted?
Tofte, MN

Here are a few more interesting and notable visitors to the area including a new one for me here, a yellow-headed blackbird.

Yellow-headed blackbird – Taconite Harbor near Schroeder, MN – May 2022
Yellow-headed blackbird – Taconite Harbor near Schroeder, MN – May 2022
Gray catbird – Tofte, MN
Hairy woodpecker with avian keratin disorder AKD which can cause beak deformities. This one has been enjoying neighborhood suet for weeks.
Harris’s sparrow – Taconite Harbor near Schroeder, MN – May 2022

Another surprise, entertaining visitor this spring has been a red-headed woodpecker. I can’t recall having one in my yard, and this one seems to have all it needs here. I mostly observe it eating worms off the lawn. It eats, then rests for 20 minutes, then eats another worm. Not a bad day, really. It’s been a welcome addition to the array of feathered friends in the yard.
https://thomasjspenceimages.smugmug.com/2022/

Red-headed woodpecker – Tofte, MN – May 2022
peek-a-boo
A favorite roost for this red-headed woodpecker – Tofte, MN – May 2022
Blue jay and Red-head. They usually get along fine.
Usually…
Taking a break in another favorite tree. Eating worms, taking breaks.
Red-headed woodpecker – Tofte, MN
Indigo Bunting male – Tofte, MN – May 2022
A pair of male indigo buntings – Tofte, MN – May 2022
Indigo Bunting male – Tofte, MN – May 2022
Ruby-throated hummingbird – Tofte, MN – May 2022
We can be certain that most years, the hummers show up on Mothers Day here on The Shore.
Brewers blackbird – Tofte, MN

Lastly, I had a fantastic close encounter with a scarlet tanager deep in the woods of Superior National Forest. I usually see one of these birds at home near a feeder during migration, but I hadn’t had one yet. On a drive looking for moose and other critters, I spotted an orange/red dot along a gravel road. Upon inspection I was shocked to see a scarlet tanager just hopping and flittering along the road. I thought it was injured, but it was hunting some kind of bugs and having great success! It may have been off course, but is was getting all it needed, it appears.

The glowing scarlet tanager – Superior National Forest – MN
Hunting for insects in Superior National Forest – Minnesota – Scarlet Tanager – May 2022
Hunting for insects in Superior National Forest – Minnesota – Scarlet Tanager – May 2022
Hunting for insects in Superior National Forest – Minnesota – Scarlet Tanager – May 2022
Hunting for insects in Superior National Forest – Minnesota – Scarlet Tanager – May 2022

Thank you for reading along and taking a look at some spring birding photos. Please take a look at my online catalogs and consider a print purchase if you see anything you like. Stay tuned and subscribe to this newsletter. I’ll do a recap of photos from my early spring trip to Utah and the southwest in my next post. Happy Spring everyone!
Tom
https://thomasjspenceimages.smugmug.com/

2 thoughts on “Spring Is For The Birds”

  1. Cape May Warbler – I saw one on the portage between Gaskin and Horseshoe lake this past week!

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