Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Arbor Day Pine Warbler

Oil on Panel - 4 x 4 inches

    Minnesota’s Arbor Day was April 30th of this year. It’s an occasion seldom marked on calendars and celebrated with little fanfare, media coverage, or huzzah. The date on which Arbor Day falls is specific to each state, so each year I make a note on my calendar when Arbor Day occurs. April 30th is considered a little too early to plant trees in Duluth because we are located in the northern part of the state, but May is right around the corner when it’s prime planting time. 

     This year I took a walk around my yard on Arbor Day and photographed birds and plants that looked interesting to me, in addition to snapping photos of the jack pine stand. Almost all of the initial 25 jack pines from 2015 have survived, and the conifers are growing nicely. Disappointingly, one of the larger jack pines bent over last fall and I thought it was a goner, but I decided to pull it upright and stake it. I figured, why not take the chance to help it? Lo and behold, it’s still upright after a long winter and looking good. A week ago, I noticed a small bird fly into that exact tree and not leave. Upon closer inspection, I saw a Chipping Sparrow sitting on its nest about 6 feet high. Well hidden on a branch against the trunk of the tree, I was absolutely thrilled to see a nesting bird in the very tree I helped rescue.

     Back to Arbor Day… marsh marigolds were emerging, the morning cloak butterfly was visible deeper in the woods, and the chipmunk, which I first heard on March 5th, was available for the photo shoot. Later in the day, I noticed a Pine Warbler at my suet feeder, a yard list first. This painting is a depiction of that bird when it was on the ground with its foot propped up on a pine cone. Arbor Day didn’t disappoint this year and the Pine Warbler made it special. 

     Over twenty young trees were planted in May, including white and red oaks, red maples, Chinese chestnuts, and a mountain ash. The highbush cranberries in my front yard are currently in full bloom and swarming with pollinators. The dragonflies have been putting on quite a show in the evenings when it’s easy to see their prey in the dimming sun. The hummingbirds are buzzing, fawns are prancing, and the first bear sighting of the year occurred this morning just after breakfast. 

     During today’s afternoon walk, I heard Chestnut-sided Warblers, American Redstarts, House Wrens, Red-eyed Vireos, and a Broad-winged Hawk. These singing birds define my home in Duluth during the month of June, in addition to American Robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Goldfinches and the occasional Veery. Purple Finches seem quiet and sparse this spring, and this was the first year I didn’t see any Harris’s Sparrows during spring migration. In addition, there were less than a handful of Redpolls or Pine Siskins that came through, an extremely low number compared to other years. 

     I hope you all enjoy the summer and check out some art shows when you get a chance. 

These jack pines were planted in 2015.
Compare with photos below. Photo 4/30/2021

Same jack pines. Photo April 2019.

Same jack pines. Photo May 2017.

Chipping Sparrow on nest in "rescued" jack pine. Photo 6/8/2021

The "rescued" jack pine.
The Chipping Sparrow's nest is approximately
6 feet high in this tree, about mid-height. Photo 6/8/2021

Mourning cloak butterfly. Photo 4/30/2021.

Emerging marsh marigold. Note winged bug at tip of rear leaf.
Here come the bugs, aka bird food! Photo 4/30/2021.

Chipmunk on bird bath. Photo 4/30/2021.

Elderberry buds. Photo 4/30/2021.

First bear sighting of the year. Photo 6/8/2021, 7:39 am.

Plant trees. 

Plant pollinators. 

Save forests. 

Reduce plastic usage. 

Curb development.

Do something.


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