For the Birds Radio Program: Kim Eckert's birding class
One of the best ways to learn your birds is to go out with an expert, and no one fits that bill better than Kim Eckert, who is leading a great and inexpensive series of field trips this spring. (3:26) date confirmed
![Killdeer] (https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3607/3514682992_c70b2c2d23.jpg “Killdeer”)
(Recording of a Killdeer)
With the mild weather the past few weeks, quite a lot of birds are back in the Northland two and even three weeks earlier than normal. Robins have been seen in the Northland as early as March 4th and 7th, and the first large flight came in the first day of spring. Bluebirds were first seen around March 23rd. Noisy Killdeers are running on quick legs on lawns and along the edge of rivers and lakes. Even in residential neighborhoods they are often heard flying overhead.
(Recording of a Killdeer)
Grackles and Red-winged Blackbird males return a couple of weeks before the females. Red-wings spend these early days fighting over the boundaries of their territories. Their preferred nesting habitat is cattail marshes, but they aren’t all that fussy. There’re even two males in the tiny pond at the corner of Kenwood and Arrowhead in Duluth, right across the road from the Kenwood shopping center. They often call from the telephone wires as well as from cattails and shrubs.
(Recording of a Red-winged Blackbird)
Quite a few species of ducks are back, and Great Blue Herons and grebes have been reported already, too. Song Sparrows are singing in my neighborhood now, too.
(Recording of a Song Sparrow)
One of the annual rites of spring in Duluth is Kim Eckert’s bird identification class, sponsored by Duluth Audubon Society, which begins next week. More than 900 people have taken this class at one time or another, and many of them take it every spring, since Kim accommodates bird-watchers at every level of ability–from complete novice to advanced birders. Some people drive all the way to Duluth from the Twin Cities several times each spring for the class–Kim’s class inspires that kind of loyalty partly because he is the state’s most active birder–he has seen 363 species in Minnesota, 307 in St. Louis County alone. And he is an authority on bird identification–he co-authored The Audubon Master Guide to Birding, and is the author of A Birder’s Guide to Minnesota, too. And his class is a great way to see a lot of birds. Last year the total list for the eight-week class was 200 species, and once the class saw 104 species on a single day. Kim will hold sessions one morning a week from dawn until 8:00, so people can go before work, and two mornings a week from 8:30-11:30 for people who are home days. Two times a week he starts at 5:00 for people done with work by then, and he holds class every Saturday morning, too. It’s inexpensive–the fee is $25.00, $20.00 for students, which allows you to attend as often as you like. Listeners from out of town who could make it to Duluth just once or twice can pay a small fee for each class attended. If you’re interested, call Kim–his number is area 218-525- 6930. It’s a great way to get out and see some of the wonders of the Northland–you might even catch a glimpse at a bittern calling.
(Recording of an American Bittern)
This is Laura Erickson, and this program has been “For the Birds.”