yellow-bellied sapsuckers in this tree on the edge of a ravine in rural Sibley County near Henderson, Minn., this morning. My best shot caught three of them visible and showing their profiles (click on the photo for a larger view). The bird on the left shows the reddish chin which helped us identity these members of the woodpecker family; the others show prominent white wingpatches, which are another identifying mark.
We were near Henderson looking in a needle-in-haystack sort of way for the lazuli bunting that was reported in the area recently, a very rare sighting of this beautiful bird that is not usually seen much east of the Black Hills . The directions we had were rather vague and we took two longish walks without ever finding the spot described. But it was a beautiful day to be out and about. For me, birdwatching is rarely very goal-oriented; I love the excuse to be walking about in natural surroundings, getting some exercise, breathing clean air, and appreciating the moments of beauty that present themselves.
I liked the town of Henderson, pop. approx. 900, which is located roughly an hour west of Northfield on Hwy 19. Its downtown is made up of historic brick buildings of strikingly similar hue, many housing nice little businesses, including a cafe where we happened to meet the teacher whose students at the Minnesota New Country School found the deformed frogs that raised an environmental alarm in 1995. And I've gotta like a town that has birdwatching prominently on its official website. The town, located on the Minnesota River, has found its summer ruby-throated hummingbird population growing to notable size in recent years. As many as 87 hummingbirds have been counted at one time in a single location, and the amount of sugar water consumed suggests that the numbers visiting that particular site may be considerably higher. Henderson Feathers, the birding center of the Minnesota Valley, in partnership with Audubon Minnesota, celebrates Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah, with birding-related events culminating the final weekend in August (schedule of events available here).
I'm sure we'll be back in Henderson before too long.
Addendum: I am making this post, which features three sky views taken last Saturday, a Skywatch Friday post for July 31. I hope you like the yellow-belled sapsuckers (I understand some people think that's a made-up name, but I assure you it's not!) and the picturesque town of Henderson, Minnesota.
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