Every once in awhile I need to think about whether or not there exists a Minnesota wild bird or critter that I haven't written about at least once. It turns out that there are several, of course, although many of them get honorable mentions without necessarily being the feature subject of any given column.
While recently enjoying an evening of fishing from my small boat on beautiful La Salle Lake of the La Salle Lake State Recreation Area, I was drawn to the scenic and steep north side of the lake's shoreline. Along this shore are numerous spots that provide good fish habitat in the otherwise exceedingly deep lake.
While recently hiking on my favorite of Lake Bemidji State Park's many scenic trails high above and overlooking beautiful Lake Bemidji, I stopped to gaze into the canopy of the mature maple-basswood forest. So thick was the greenery of the forest that only bits of the bright blue sky and dappled sunlight were visible.
Many of you have no doubt come to know, through my words most likely, a canine companion of mine. This column, which I've been writing for many years now, has included from time to time my mention of Duke: my devoted, fun-loving, and hardworking Chesapeake Bay retriever. My old friend, you see, is no longer at home and no longer able to greet me when I open my car door. And oh how I miss him.
Two species of wild birds that thrive in North America — and have since the 19th century — are not even native: the European starling and the house sparrow. The fact that only a handful of these birds were captured and shipped to this continent from another continent far across the Atlantic Ocean and quickly spread nearly everywhere is testament to not only the astonishing adaptability of the birds, but underscore the consequences of introducing non-native species of organisms to distant landscapes.
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.