Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

The Green Heron June 18, 2014

Filed under: Bird-Watching,Birding — Paula B @ 2:21 PM
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Have you seen this pretty heron?

green heron web image

green heron

They can be found across the United States, but are declining in numbers. 😦

My husband and I have spotted them at nearby lakes and rivers. They are harder to spot than the Great Blue Heron or the Great White Egret since they are smaller. They nest in scrubbier areas near the water’s edge while the Egrets and Herons make large nests at the tops of trees, which are easy to spot.

A great number of these beautiful birds have been discovered nesting in a marshy area in Louisiana.

Read more about this discovery in this Audubon article.


What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird Out of the Nest June 12, 2014

Filed under: Baby Birds,Bird-Watching,Birding — Paula B @ 9:26 AM
baby cardinal | | paula bonelli

juvenile cardinal

A hand selected article from Paula’s Garden Patch News about what to do if you find a baby bird out of the nest. We recently found a robin fledgling out of the nest too early. I’m glad to see from the graphic below that we did the right thing by putting him/her in a safe place and continued to watch as the parents fed it for the next several days.

Great infographic on the subject from Audubon Magazine


Nestcams February 14, 2012

Filed under: Bird-Watching,Birding,Winter — Paula B @ 2:55 PM
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red-bellied woodpecker | | copyright paula bonelli

red-bellied woodpecker, copyright paula bonelli

I love watching birds up close and personal. My fav spot to do this is in my own backyard. It’s one of the unexpected joys that came from developing my once plain yard into a natural backyard retreat that now attracts all kinds of birds, butterflies and small wildlife.

When I can’t get out with my binocs, either into the yard or for a walk in the woods, I like to watch nests on a Web cam. I’d love one for my own yard, but the ones I’m watching can be found online.

Last year I was hooked on watching the Decorah eagles provide food for their eaglets (March).

This year, since joining Project FeederWatch, I found more Web nestcams at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology site. The Lab of Ornithology is such a wealth of information, tools and resources for birders. Discover and learn more about birds and become a citizen scientist. It’s fun!

I figured if I enjoyed the Web nestcams so much, maybe other birders would too. So here are links to some I’ve enjoyed watching.

Cornell Nestcams

Hummingbird Nestcam

Decorah, Iowa Eagles’ Nestcam

Other Eagle Nestcams (US and Canada)

Owl Nestcams

These links have a permanent home on the Nestcams page, which you can find in the upper right corner.

Related links: Male Hummingbird video, Downy Woodpecker video, Tree Swallow fledgling video, Bird videos


Where Are The Birds? February 12, 2012

This winter has been nothing but strange; mild weather, little or no snow and very low bird activity. I blamed the weather for the reduction in bird visits, but last week I saw our friendly neighborhood Cooper’s Hawk a block away soaring over the road. We noticed that our cardinal pair had been hunkering down in the pine tree out front staying close to the house. Then we spotted the hawk chasing a Bluejay around the pine tree and ultimately taking a rest in our Maple tree, where I was able to capture this pic. Suppose he was exhausted after trying to catch up to that Bluejay! But, alas, the Jay was safe. In pursuit of prey they can be seen dashing through vegetation at top speeds to catch birds.

coopers hawk | | paula bonelli(Too bad you can’t see his head very well.)

When we experience fewer bird visits in the summer, I know it’s because the hawk has been hanging around. He’s stealthy. Unless we happen to spot the large shadow flying overhead, we rarely hear him. But the telltale signs are there — the frantic songs of the birds in the yard followed by a couple of days of low bird activity. It’s the cycle of nature I suppose, but when he enters the yard and is after MY backyard birds, I have something to say about it! The diet of this hawk is mainly songbirds. I can’t remember seeing the Cooper’s Hawk during the winter, but maybe with this year’s milder weather they’ve pushed farther north than usual. I wouldn’t miss a few squirrels or rabbits, but my songbirds are special.

Do you have hawks in your backyard? Both the Sharp-shinned and the Cooper’s Hawk are becoming more common around feeder areas looking for an easy meal (Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology). And except for the difference in size, it’s very hard to tell one from the other. The average size of the Sharp-shinned size is 10-14″ or similar in size to a dove or jay, while the Cooper’s measures 14-20″.



Project FeederWatch November 18, 2011

Since I love feeding and watching my feathered friends, I decided to become a “citizen scientist” and help Cornell Lab of Ornithology count birds.

black-capped chickadees | | paula bonelli

I joined the Project FeederWatch program. There is a small fee to join and then they send you a calendar of birds to watch for by month, a poster with all the common birds of North America, and instructions for how to count the birds at your feeder.  I, in turn, will count the birds at my feeder and log the information at their Website (you can also fill out paper forms and mail them in).

Become a citizen scientist! Find out more about the program at
Bird counts started on November 12 and run through April, but it’s not too late to start.

What birds are you seeing this month in your yard?

Related Posts: Fill Your Feeders | Feeding Winter Birds | Winter Birds in Minnesota


Cedar Waxwings November 3, 2011

For a few days in October each year, we get a kick out of watching a flock of Cedar Waxwings clean all the berries off our dogwood shrubs. Although they are in the upper Midwest all summer, I mostly see them in my yard during spring and fall migration.

For 2 years now, we have seen the juvenile Cedar Waxwings. Their identity is easily mistaken since they don’t have the same air-brushed look of the adults. The juveniles are gray with a streaked chest. They don’t get their signature red wing tips and polished look until the second year.

juvenile cedar waxwing | paula bonelli |

juvenile cedar waxwing

I usually hear them; that’s how I know they’re in the yard. They make a number of sounds, but this time of year they make a high-pitched squeaky call that sounds like ‘zeeee, zeeet or sreee’.

Late nesting allows them to take advantage of all the late summer and early fall fruit and berries. They are susceptible to intoxication or death from eating fermented berries. So if you see some drunk birds in your yard, maybe there are some fermenting berries around! LOL

You can watch an adult Cedar Waxwing eating berries and a juvenile perched in a tree at Cornell’s site.


Stunned Yellow Warbler October 14, 2011

Doug and I were hanging out in the backyard doing some chores, but mostly relaxing when we heard a bird hit our carriage house window. This is not an uncommon occurrence; birds are frequently hitting the windows on the garage side or getting stuck in the second story room. He’s always rescuing our feathered friends. 🙂

We went to investigate to see if the bird was OK; praying that it wasn’t dead. Thankfully it wasn’t, but it was badly stunned.  Doug scooped up the little female yellow warbler and kept her protected until she regained her senses.

It took several minutes for her to get back her strength. But when she did, off she went. It was such a rare opportunity to see such a tiny bird up close and personal; truly a treat and sooo cute!

Yellow warbler, female

yellow warbler, female | | paula bonelli

© Paula Bonelli

yellow warbler, female | | paula bonelli

© Paula Bonelli

yellow warbler, female | | paula bonelli

© Paula Bonelli


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