Featured photo: Calliope hummingbird by Sparky Stensaas
While I dread winter dragging into what I know as spring, I remember a big reason I’m very excited to move north: rarity central! It’s far enough north to give access to northern MN, and to attract some cool rare birds moving over Lake Superior. In that respect, it’s kind of an inland pelagic migration route, though all of those species are still rarities on that “flyway.” The “big lake” can host all manner of seabirds from anywhere within striking distance (and for a bird, that’s far). It can draw from either coast depending on where they’re headed and migration conditions, or it can be a migrant trap (or barrier) for southerly species.
Last month, a Neotropic cormorant was spotted offshore. Earlier this month(!) when migration was winding down here, the lakefront was still cranking, as per (relatively) usual. There were 2 Pacific loons spotted from shore, as well as an Arctic tern. Today, though, was representative of a different phenomenon: a Calliope hummingbird somehow ended at the lake edge! Thus is another phenomenon of vagrants “hitting” Lake Superior as a northward barrier. They get off course, and perhaps keep going in a certain direction until something (like a giant body of water) prevents them from moving onward.
Aside from migrant traps and stopovers, I still have yet to see/hear yellow rail. I’ll be glad to be closer to the northern sedge meadows where I’d have a better chance of finding one! I look forward to spending time at Crex Meadows now that I’ll be relatively close by.