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Posted on: July 12, 2023

Ask A Naturalist: Summer is Here! What are we Hearing and Seeing at HANC?

Ask A Naturalist with Ocean Clevette

July is National Park and Recreation month and this year's theme is "Where Community Grows!" We'll be featuring stories throughout the month that showcase how Roseville Parks and Recreation builds community!

Did you know Harriet Alexander Nature Center (HANC) has a team of naturalists who lead tours and help make visits more educational and enjoyable?

We asked Roseville Naturalist Ocean Clevette:

Trumpeter Swans swimming in a pondNow that summer is here, our green spaces are aflutter with wildlife! What are the birds we are hearing and seeing in our parks and backyards? 

Ocean: We have the really neat opportunity to see wetland birds. A lot of Minnesota birds can be found around lakes, marshes, and streams. Here in the wetlands at Central Park we have your classic waterfowl including Canada Geese and Mallards. They have been around for a while. They are early migrants back in Minnesota. 

What I really like now is baby bird season! We have ducklings, baby geese, or goslings. In less populated areas, Minnesota is a great place to see Trumpeter Swans and their babies are adorable. They are very majestic looking birds. 

We all know summer is here when we see these beautiful long-necked birds often standing on one leg. What are those? A Great Blue Heron in the reeds.

Ocean: Sure! We have a couple long-necked species. I really like the herons that fly around in the summer. I saw a Great Blue Heron the other day. Great Egrets are often seen wading along shorelines. We can also see American White Pelicans traveling through sometimes. 

What are the songbirds we are hearing and seeing this time of year? 

Ocean: There are some really pretty, colorful birds around this time of year. We have the Scarlet Tanager and the Rose-breasted Grosbeak which have really pretty reds and purples. The Indigo Bunting almost looks like an iridescent oil spill color. In the summer, you can see Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The Baltimore Oriole is very orange. When it flies overhead you can see orange on the bellies and wings. 

An oriole perched on a tree.There are a lot of beautiful backyard birds you can find at the nature center. What are some of those familiar species? 

Ocean: Chickadees are the most common bird in Minnesota. There are American Robins with their orange breasts. There are a lot of bird species that look brown. The female Red-Winged Blackbird, which is brown, is very common. The males are black and white with red on their wings. This is a great identification for novice birders. There are Brown-headed Cowbirds, which are brown. They have a mixed reputation because they will lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and their babies will outcompete the other birds. They are also very vocal. 

Do you have any tips for beginners looking to identify bird species? 

Ocean: I use this free app through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology called Merlin. It will pick up bird sounds and tell you which birds are in your area and calling to each other. Right now, I am picking up the Common Yellowthroat and American Goldfinches, which I see bouncing all around. There’s the Grey Catbird, which is greyish brown.

Harriet Alexander Nature Center is located at 2520 Dale St N, Roseville, MN. Click here to learn more about HANC

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