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White Pelicans and Hollywood Chickens


White Pelicans and Hollywood Chickens

Historically, I have spent a lot of time on the riverbanks of Minnesota swimming in the summer months. One of my favorite places is the St. Croix River, a designated Wild and Scenic River. There are many easy access beaches from Hwy 70, in Grantsburg, WI to the confluence of the Mississippi River in Prescott, WI. Each beach has its own unique qualities. I love the rusty colored waters of this lesser known avian flyway. Recently, I was laying down on one these St. Croix River beaches watching the cumulus clouds changing shapes after a great swim. I noticed this massive flock of big birds arise overhead. I sat up and could immediately identify them as American Pelicans with their black wing tips. Generally, these birds fly over this beach so high you can only see minute specks of white in an established flight formation. This day the pelicans flew close to the treetops in a clunky formation with stragglers flying up and out, in and down. I realized it was flight school! The juveniles were out. It was one of the best sightings, magical. It brought smiles and sighs. By the time I got out my binoculars, they had flown west to another river. 

                Why did the Hollywood chicken cross the road? 

                To see Gregory Peck.  Peck, peck, peck. I’m needing some humor, folks. Send me some nature jokes please!!! Covid and this isolation has brought a low-grade depression that seems to be affecting so many of us.

                So, during Covid what can we do with ourselves and children for backyard birding?  One project could be a match game with resident birds (birds who do not migrate) or any birds or ducks you like. The supplies you need are paper, card stock or cardboard, a ruler, pencil or marker and a cutting implement. Research your bird choices. Then start drawing or painting the images of your birds and decorating the back side of the card. It might be just as fun to download images of and print them off and cut them up. Take note some species of birds have different colorings for males and female like the cardinals, goldfinches, purple finches and all the varied sparrows. Many birds look the same, like the downy woodpecker, coopers hawks, robins, bluejays, chickadees, mourning doves, crows, and cedar waxwings. I say, the most intriguing birds are those rock doves (pigeons). They are short legged ground walkers showing multi-colored grey feathers, two black wing bars and a dark tipped tail with a distinct iridescence neck. Male or female no two look alike. A whole different game could be played with pigeons using a face flip book. Supplies you will need are a sheet of paper 8.5 x 11 works, paint or colored pencils, a hole punch, and some type of “O” rings or yarn that allows you to flip sections. Draw the birds then cut them into three narrow horizontal strips that will be flip about back and forth. Certainly, Pinterest has ideas for this. 

                You can also check out children’s author, Mo Willems LUNCH DOODLES on YouTube.  For some pigeon fun. The Kennedy Center for the Arts contracted Mo Willems during the beginning of Distance Learning and there is a whole series of very fun videos:



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