Yesterday was a blustery day. Autumn winds have blown many of the brightly colored leaves from the trees, covering the grass and walking paths (and tennis court fences, as seen here).
It was a day for hats and gloves and warm wool socks.On our walk, we saw groups of ducks, grebes, and coots gathered on the lake, a familiar sight this time of year. The lakes will ice over soon, so these birds need to fly south to open water. They seem to do so begrudgingly each year, though, as they are always the last to go.
Well, almost always.
The surprise on yesterday’s walk was this blue heron.
“Shouldn’t he be long gone by now?” we wondered.
Not according to the Windstar Wildlife Institute.Apparently, although most blue herons favor warmer climates in the winter (like a lot of retired Minnesotans I know!), a few hearty birds winter as far north as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. They can survive well in cold weather, especially if there is open water and they have access to fish. Some even stay on after streams freeze over, moving to meadows where they dine on voles and other small mammals.
But Minnesota?Yesterday’s bird, undoubtedly, will move on soon. He may outlast the ducks, grebes, and coots, but not for long. Everything will freeze over quite solidly here in the next month or so. The meadow mice and voles will take shelter in below-the-snow tunnels.
So he’ll have to go – no question. We’ll look forward to his return next spring.He may be late to migrate. Or maybe he’s just like the rest of us - stubbornly clinging to what’s left of the warm weather.
It’s a familiar quandary for all of us who live this far north – not just yesterday’s heron.