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Subject:Yesterday's Jaegers & hello from Hawk Ridge
From:Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Erik Bruhnke <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 23 Sep 2010 19:06:16 -0700

Yesterday morning I observed two Parasitic Jaegers and two Semipalmated
Plovers during my 1 1/2 hour morning visit to Wisconsin Point (Superior,
WI). The strong east/northeast winds blowing throughout yesterday & today
have created potentially good pelagic-bird-viewing conditions throughout the
Twin Ports of NE Minnesota and NW Wisconsin. Tomorrow's forecast looks like
strong northwest winds all day, which will hopefully get raptors back on
track for migrating along the north shore of Lake Superior, and meandering
through Hawk Ridge here in Duluth.

On that note, I wanted to let you know that if you're interested in hearing
daily updates from Hawk Ridge, as well as finding out anticipated raptor
forecasts for the upcoming day, you're welcome to join the free Hawk Ridge
Yahoogroup. Click on this link below, and you'll find simple directions on
how to be informed about these fun happenings and tidbits occurring daily at
Hawk Ridge.

Here is the Daily Update for today, which I just typed and sent out a few
minutes ago:

As a result of the rain today and unpleasantly strong & gusty winds, the
naturalists and volunteers didn't attend the main overlook today. Also with
these turbulent and rainy conditions, raptors will hunker down and refrain

With a second storm front just northwest of Duluth, there is a chance that
could get some rain tomorrow morning. Winds will be strong from the
starting tonight and throughout the day tomorrow, which may push some rain
way. In addition to the northwest winds some raptors may fly through as
The best flights of raptors tomorrow will likely be tomorrow afternoon, once
those northwest winds have time to drift raptors towards shore, as well as
up some of the rain clouds near us.

Since today wasn't a day of raptors, I thought I'd share some fun things
songbirds. First off, they migrate at night! Songbirds migrate at night
some pretty fancy "natural technology". These songbirds have magnetite in
brain. Magnetite is a magnetic chemical within their brain that acts as an
internal compass, so the birds have a bearing on the direction which they

But trying to travel long distances with ONLY a compass isn't all that
since you need to know where you are. You can get a sense of direction with
compass, but how do you know where to go, and where you are?

The answer lies overhead, during the night skies! Songbirds use the stars as
overhead map. The follow the position of certain stars, and this is what
them a sense of place, in addition to being equipped with magnetite. During
migration, keep an eye on the bird species in your backyard. If the
evening/night conditions in your backyard currently have a north wind with
skies and many stars glowing overhead, the birds will feel that urge to
south, and may even leave that night! On the other hand, note the species in
your backyard during a series of cloudy nights… as these birds will likely
around until conditions change for an easier migration. But even with these
superfantastically awesome adaptations, why don't songbirds just migrate at
during the daytime like raptors?

Songbirds migrate primarily at night because the skies are safer (no
raptors moving around), and to also take advantage of calmer winds. Thermals
form during the day, however during the night the air tends to be calmer and
less turbulent. These air conditions make for an easier time flying long

Here are some photos I took last fall at Hawk Ridge. All of these birds can
seen currently at Hawk Ridge except the last species (American Tree
They'll start showing up once the brisk mid-October winds are here. Enjoy!

Fox Sparrow:

Dark-eyed Junco:

White-throated Sparrow splashing in a puddle with a Dark-eyed Junco:

American Robin:

Cedar Waxwing:

American Tree Sparrow:

Good birdwatching,
Erik Bruhnke

Duluth, MN
Bird photography and guided bird hikes

Erik Bruhnke
Count Interpreter
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 3006
Duluth, MN 55803-3006

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