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Swifts enjoy communal roost in Preston


Mon, Sep 5th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

About twenty bird and nature enthusiasts spent a pleasant evening, Wednesday August 31, at the Trailhead parking lot watching a current local phenomenon. Hundreds of swifts swarm around the old Preston elementary school chimney before funneling down into the chimney to roost for the night. The small five inch, sparrow sized bird is brownish-gray with a short tail and long, narrow, somewhat bowed wings that span about 12 inches.

As we watched the speedy little birds gather, an occasional turkey vulture would glide through. The comparatively very large, graceful in flight, bird also makes a summer home in Preston and will soon be making its way south for the winter.

The old school now serves as a hotel/apartment building owned by the Corson family. The tall brick chimney has been co-opted by hundreds of these little birds for their temporary night time dwelling. They are summertime visitors and should be welcomed, as they feed only on flying insects.

Greg Munson, former director of the Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, had made a count estimate of nearly 1,100 swifts entering the chimney at dusk the previous Sunday night. The count this evening was greater than 1,000. Munson explained that the swifts only nest in residential chimneys. Because of the lack of old style, open chimneys, the habitat for the chimney swift has been limited. Swifts nest twice during the season and there is only one nest per chimney.

However, they do gather as they have in the old elementary school chimney in "communal roosts." The birds can fly in a circle as they gather and funnel into the chimney to roost for the night. According to Munson, they spend some of that roosting time preening.

As the birds descended into the chimney, we could hear their twittering chatter. Swifts gather in large flocks at roosting sites as they prepare for fall migration.

According to Munson, in 1944 it was discovered that the swifts migrate to Peru as many of the birds had been banded. Since then, it is known that they migrate to other South American countries as well.

Swifts are in the same Order as Hummingbirds, different Families. Swifts, with the exception of roosting at night, do everything in winged flight. They are one of the speediest fliers in the bird world and eat only flying insects. Water is consumed by dipping into a body of water as they fly over. Bathing is accomplished the same way. Swifts have small bills, but a wide mou .....
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Transporting Injured Raptors - You Can Help!

Fri, Jul 15th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

What should you do if you find an injured hawk, eagle, or owl? The Houston Nature Center serves as a collection and transportation hub for the sick and injured raptors of this area since the nearest wildlife rehabilitators are in the Twin Cities, bu ..... 
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Houston Nature Center & tent camping open for business

Fri, Jul 15th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

The Houston Nature Center is owned and operated by the City of Houston, with no state (or county) funding. There you can meet Alice the Great Horned Owl, check out the hands-on nature displays, extensive native prairie plantings, and recycled bicycl ..... 
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Local Spring Valley man shoots wild boar

Tue, May 24th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

Recently, Dick Harreld of Spring Valley, took a trip to the foothills of Sierra, Nevada, in Placer County, hoping to shoot a wild hog. On May 14, he shot this female boar of Russian wild hog descent.

Spring into hoof health

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

As spring arrives with its gentle breezes, warm temperatures, and promises to eradicate winter from our memory, it also can bring unpleasant issues to the farm, especially where horses are concerned.

More often than not, someone has either h ..... 
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Outback Ranch...a family experience

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

"In riding a horse, we borrow freedom." - Helen Thompson

If this quote holds even the slightest bit of truth, one looking for a bit of freedom would look no further than the Outback Ranch. Nestled into the hills and valleys just east of Fill ..... 
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Root River Saddle Club

Fri, Mar 18th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

Club One, of only three saddle clubs in the southeastern most portion of the state, and the only one in Fillmore County, Root River Saddle Club has a rich tradition of both horsemanship and promotion of family fun. While one might think it is limite ..... 
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Report Finds Air Pollution Harms Minnesota Fish & Wildlife

Wed, Mar 16th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors



(St. Paul) - A new report from National Wildlife Federation finds that a number of wildlife species important to hunters and anglers in Minnesota are harmed by toxic air pollution and climate change. The report comes on the same week the U.S. ..... 
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Owl Festival a hoot for kids

Fri, Feb 18th, 2011
Posted in The Great Outdoors

The International Festival of Owls may have in-depth programs for adults, but it also has a heap of fun for kids, too.

Cub Scouts can attend a special program on either Friday or Sunday to earn their Wildlife Conservation Belt Loop while lea ..... 
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