The St. Croix River and its valley provide an important highway for birds migrating south in the fall. The habitat along the river provides the places to rest and eat on their long journeys to the southern United States and beyond.
Last Saturday at Carpenter Nature Center in Denmark Township, along the Lower St. Croix River, birdwatchers from the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union set up with their binoculars and counted all the birds they saw pass by.
As the warm weather-loving warblers have already passed through for the most part, this event focused on raptors. Expert birder Peter Nichols provided the following report:
“A total of 87 species were recorded, including 7 species of waterfowl, 12 diurnal raptor species, 2 owl species, 8 warbler species, and 10 species of sparrows. Despite the diversity in diurnal raptor species, individual numbers of most species were low due to unfavorable weather. Here is the diurnal raptor list:
- Turkey Vulture 33
- Osprey 1
- Bald Eagle 11
- Northern Harrier 1
- Sharp-shinned Hawk 3
- Cooper’s Hawk 2
- Red-shouldered Hawk 1
- Broad-winged Hawk 1
- Red-tailed Hawk 7
- American Kestrel 1
- Merlin 1
- Peregrine Falcon 1
“There were many other highlights, including a few late or semi-late birds: Great Crested Flycatcher (1), Least Flycatcher (1), Barn Swallow (2), Mourning Warbler (1), and Indigo Bunting (1). On the slightly early side, there were good numbers of Pine Siskins (32) and Purple Finches (13). Other interesting birds for the area included flyover Northern Pintail (7), Green-winged Teal (1), Blue-winged Teal (6), Sora (1), Greater Yellowlegs (1), Franklin’s Gull (7), Great Horned Owl (1), Barred Owl (1), Red-breasted Nuthatch (7), American Pipit (1), Harris’s Sparrow (1), and Rusty Blackbird (3+). The most abundant species were Blue Jay (497), Yellow-rumped Warbler (136), and Ring-billed Gull (127).”
A couple weeks before the Carpenter event, Nichols reported that in one day at Afton State Park, he identified 71 species of birds.