GREETINGS TO MEMBERS AND FRIENDS, There are several (four!) news items to share with you today.
Supporters say the time is now to restore Pig’s Eye dumpsite, using money from the federal infrastructure bill and the state budget surplus.
ST PAUL, Minn. — When Tom Dimond walks through Pig’s Eye Regional Park, he sees nothing but opportunity, a chance to clean up a legacy landfill and deliver a functioning park to surrounding neighborhoods and the city at large.
It’s known as Pig’s Eye Regional Park, covering 1,300 acres southeast of downtown St. Paul, including Pig’s Eye Lake and adjacent land. But it’s never been fully developed because of the toxic chemicals that were dumped there for decades, between the 1920s and 1970s.
Article in the January 11, 2022 Star Tribune
The St. Paul City Council is asking the state for funds from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the state’s $7 billion budget surplus to help clean up years of pollution near the underutilized Pig’s Eye Lake.
St. Paul Audubon Society Treasurer Kiki Sonnen has visited Pig’s Eye Regional Park since the 1970s. The park is part of a major North America flyway for herons, who nest there and travel up to 30 miles around the region to feed before returning to Pig’s Eye.
Ogimaagiizhig-Charles Grolla, a member of the Bois Forte band of Ojibwe, will present “Ojibwe Bird Stories and Legends.” His presentation, based on his book Ojibwe Bird Stories, will give an Ojibwe perspective on birds, based on a lifetime of stories and legends he acquired from elder family and Ojibwe family members. Grolla will tell us about Ojibwe names, and cultural uses and functions in traditional Ojibwe society.
Grolla teaches the Ojibwe language and culture at Cass Lake-Bena High School. He was formerly a police and conservation officer at the Red Lake reservation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s in differential instruction. He is also a traditional Ojibwe knowledge keeper.
Join us virtually on Zoom – Thursday, Dec 9 @ 7:00 pm.
Research indicates that up to 1 billion birds may be killed per year in the U.S. alone due to window collisions. Birds hit buildings at all hours during the day and night. At night migrating birds can be distracted by bright lights in our cities. During the day the problem is reflection or other confusing aspects of glass.
The increased use of glass in our modern buildings, including large expanses of highly-glazed or ultra-clear glass, presents a serious hazard for birds. Most birds don’t perceive glass as an obstacle. Instead, they see the things they know and need, such as habitat and open sky, reflected in the glazed surface or on the other side of one or more panes of glass.
Join Audubon’s Bird-Friendly Communities team for an exciting two-part webinar series focused on the issue of bird-window collisions, solutions we can take to address this problem, and lessons learned from across the Audubon network.
Register below for each event
A Discussion with Researcher Dr. Daniel Klem
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
7–8:30 pm Eastern
Solutions and Successes Across Audubon
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
7–8:30 pm Eastern
Saint Paul Audubon’s annual field trip to see the Sandhill Cranes at Crex Meadows took a few unexpected turns this year.
The drought of 2021 has dried up the feeding fields around Crex and according to Chase Davies, who led the group, along with Louise Eidsmoe, “There hasn’t been enough rain for the creeks that bring the water, much less the usual flooding that supports the cranes, other wildlife, and the vegetation that feeds them all.” The cranes were clearly roosting someplace else, and Crex Meadows staff suggested going ten miles south to the Gretturn Flowage in the Fish Lake WMA, where up to 5000 a night had been reported.
A line of 17 cars, some with first-time birders, caravanned to the new site, which provided a somewhat different viewing experience. “We were closer to the cranes than usual and the noise level was far greater than what we experience at Crex,” said Chase. “Scopes revealed massed choirs of birds in the distance and binoculars were actually useful.”
“Parked along the flowage road, we watched the arrivals and listened to the adults and a few young individuals socializing as they settled in for the night,” said Chase. “Everyone in our group stayed through sundown, which unexpectedly coincided with a huge orange harvest moon rise.” This year the cranes were joined by “over 50 Trumpeter Swans, a few coots, mallards and Canada Geese,” said Chase, “along with a Bald Eagle and a Harrier seeking supper from among the wetland plants. The dearth of small birds such as finches and sparrows, lingering warblers, and blackbirds was notable. Another difference – in fact totally unique in my years of Craning – is that the birds stopped coming in right at 7:15. As though the spigot had suddenly been turned off. Usually the sound of cranes streaming in continues through dusk until it’s too dark to see them on the wing. I left at 8:07 after 20 minutes of near total quiet other than an occasional goose honk, duck squawk, young crane tin whistle, or adult ‘garoo.’”
The following report was created by Jarita Chen, a Macalester College student, supported by the college’s Chuck Green Fellowship. She spent hours afield with Kiki Sonnen, Tom Dimond, Kathy Sidles and others while we documented the changing landscape of Pig’s Eye Regional Park during the summer of 2021.
We witnessed an oil spill into the Creek after a train engine’s diesel fuel tank was punctured. We monitored the cleanup. We watched frogs and turtles and fish in the Creek. We saw numerous birds throughout the spring and summer. We tracked various governmental actions taking parkland from the public and turning it over to expansion of heavy industrial use.
All the while Ms. Chen was gathering from numerous sources information, maps, graphics, charts, diagrams, photos. She pulled all the information together into a remarkable document now available for public review. Ms. Chen worked under an environmental justice internship for the Lower Phalen Creek Project. Her professor is Kiristina Sailiata.
Thank you to all for Jarita Chen’s great contribution to environmental justice.
“The American Kestrel,” featuring Julian Sellers. This presentation May 13th will describe the taxonomy, life history, population trends, and threats facing the American Kestrel. Julian will bring you up to date on the Saint Paul Audubon Society’s nest box project and show some fun videos.
Julian Sellers began birding at age 10 in Rockledge, Florida. He has served the Saint Paul Audubon Society as Field Trips chair, Christmas Bird Count organizer/compiler, and a member of the Conservation Committee. Julian contributed to our “Go Native” booklet, which recommends native plant species for landscaping in central Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, and he coordinates the chapter’s American Kestrel nest box project.
The Saint Paul Audubon Society board is happy to announce that in-person group birding events will again be allowed, and the Field Trip Committee has planned a full schedule of guided walks for you to join, from May through November. The board voted at its May 3 meeting to resume group birding with the following guidelines:
- Participants must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.
- Everyone needs to maintain social distancing.
- Masks are optional but welcome.
- Attendees will provide their names and contact information at the start of each walk.
The first event on the schedule is a Tuesday morning walk at Snail Lake on May 11, 7-9 a.m. This is followed by a field trip on May 15 titled “Birds, Bogs, Bees and Bantams,” to be held at the 20-acre homestead of Curt and Pat Hadland, in Scandia.
Many more walks for all types of birders follow throughout the summer. Please go to saintpaulaudubon.org/upcoming-events for complete details. Information will also be posted in upcoming issues of the Cardinal, and on the Saint Paul Audubon Society Facebook Group, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/saintpaulaudubonsociety. If you are not currently a member of the group, please click the “Join Group” button at the top of the page.
We are very excited to once again offer guided group walks, which is at the heart of the Saint Paul Audubon Society’s mission to promote the enjoyment, understanding and protection of birds and their habitats.
A reminder about Warbler Weekend: This coming weekend, May 8-10, is Warbler Weekend, to be held with Covid-19 precautionary modifications this year. Please note that the new guidelines for in-person walks begins on May 11 and does not include Warbler Weekend, which will not have guided walks. Everyone will bird independently or in groups of 6 or fewer. Bird lists, maps, and instructions for returning your records will be available at the Hok-Si-La Park Dining Hall.
The City of Maplewood is asking the public to take a survey concerning the possible development of the 77-acre grassland adjacent to Battle Creek Regional Park and redevelopment of The Ponds At Battle Creek golf course. Maplewood needs to hear from you that development of these properties is unacceptable. Please take the survey, no later than February 14th, at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QKTXZV7. You can select “None of the above” or “No Response” when appropriate.
This is an issue that the Saint Paul Audubon Society has been following and we are advocating for the properties to be kept as grasslands because of the important bird habitat it provides. You can refresh your memory on this topic here.
The Saint Paul Audubon Society