Not all squirrels live in trees. Minnesota is home to several different species of squirrels. From chipmunks to woodchucks and from ground squirrels to tree squirrels, the chances are very good that one or more species lives near you.
A few mornings ago I enjoyed a solo paddle around Assawa Lake, the little shallow lake behind my house. Ringed in cattails with a broad sedge meadow buttressing the lake's south side, I've always marveled at the diversity of wildlife that frequent this serene body of water and surrounding habitat.
The little natural environment lake behind my house, Assawa Lake, was ice-free on March 31 this year, one of the earliest ice-outs in recent memory. Yet even before the lake ice was completely gone and the only open water available was the iceless perimeter lakeshore, a certain species of duck seemed to appear out of nowhere welcoming the coming the Northland's early spring. Wood ducks had returned once again.
I've been spending some time in the "turkey woods" recently. Scouting for good hunting spots, observing and listening to the Northland's variety and chorus of springtime wildlife, and simply savoring the great outdoors far away from the not-so-great indoors.
On the first night of my annual winter camping/lake trout fishing adventure in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness late last month, I awoke to the sound of snow falling lightly on my nylon pup tent.
Oh glorious springtime! On my evening walk down the narrow dirt township road that passes by my home, I enjoyed the songs and calls of birds not seen or heard for many months. Indeed, whereas most birds such as American robins, red-winged blackbirds, mallards, Canada geese, and killdeer were last observed just five to six months ago, prior to their annual fall migrations, some avian vocalizations haven't been heard in more than a year.
Since the year 2006 I've joined a college friend of mine who invited me to tag along with him for a winter camping and lake trout fishing adventure into the wilds of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the month of March. Terry and I attended the University of Minnesota Morris together, worked part-time jobs at United Parcel Service, were roommates, and hunted and fished together. But, as life and circumstances often dictate, our trails eventually diverged and we lost touch with one another for many years.
Although the author of the following poem, To A Snowdrop by William Wadsworth, 1819, wrote eloquently about the perennial spring bulb known as snowdrop of Ireland, Scotland, and Britain, he could have just as well been writing about a certain flower soon to be showing itself throughout North America's Great Plains, including across the prairie grasslands of Minnesota. "Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they But hardier far, once more I see thee bend Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend, Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
All winter long I've enjoyed watching a pair of oversized birds making quick work of the softball-sized suet balls hanging from my backyard shepherd's hook. And while I'm not happy that the balls of animal fat cost me upwards of a four dollar bill apiece, wild birds of all kinds, sizes, and shapes can't pass up pecking on pure suet.
"There's a chicken hawk!" shouted my cousin, while he pointed at the bird as it left its perch high in the canopy of a nearby tree.