LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — El Paso Redux

I never imagined when my family left El Paso, Texas, in 1970, that it would take me almost 50 years to return for a visit, but it did. I was an Army brat, and my father’s last posting was Fort Bliss, in El Paso, a gritty city in extreme west Texas. Since then, I’ve been very near to El Paso …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright

Monday’s West Texas expedition was to the Davis Mountains area in search of Montezuma quails. The Davis Mountains are what is known as a “Sky Island,” rising high above the Chihuahuan Desert and are one of the most beautiful places in Texas. In addition to birding, our destination was the famous McDonald Observatory. On my last visit to Texas, we …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Day The Colima Warblers Broke My Heart

I am in Texas at the invitation of my friend, Valerie, who has a house here near the Davis Mountains. I have been a birder for more than 40 years, and she and I greatly enjoy birding together whenever we get the chance. Here we birded together five years ago, but it was February, so I jumped at the chance …

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — My Favorite Bird

I’ve been hearing northern Cardinals but had not seen one close up until Saturday. They don’t migrate — one of the handful of species that live in Minnesota all year. I photographed this female (above) under one of our feeders in Bloomington. We’ll soon be hearing more of them. Both the males and females sing in earnest in March and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Wonder Of Birds

Thank goodness for winter, a time here at Red Oak House for us to catch up on reading. About a year ago, I bought myself the book “The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us About Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future,” by Jim Robbins (Spiegel & Grau, c2017). I tucked it away, waiting for an opportune time to …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Winter Notes: Owls

Here at Red Oak House, in the wooded Highland Acres neighborhood of Bismarck, we like owls very much. We frequently have great horned owls and Eastern screech owls in our large blue spruce and green ash trees. Many years ago, my brother, Thomas, took me to Yorktown, Va., where I bought this wonderful wooden snowy owl at street arts and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Christmas Bird Count

Fifteen below at noon New Year’s Eve 2017 with record lows in the night convinced me that this was a year to participate in the area Christmas bird count by making observations at the Red Oak House feeders. These are my tools for the day. The hyperborean dawn revealed that the kitchen window suet feeder had fallen to the ground. Red …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — As Kingfishers Catch Fire

Some weeks ago, my dear friend, Ken, loaned me a gem of a book, one he had enjoyed and he knew that I would like it too, entitled “As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Books & Birds,” by Alex Preston and Neil Gower, an exploration of birds in literature. I started it very soon after that day, but then the library alerted me …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Birding The Apple Creek Wetlands

Went to the Apple Creek wetlands east of Bismarck on Sunday morning to bird with my daughter, Chelsea Sorenson. She is a budding photographer and quite a good birder in her own right. May was such a windy month here that we didn’t do much birding; hence, we missed many of the migrating birds that hurry north to the Arctic. But …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Odds And Ends No. 1

Odds and ends it is. While we had frost on our cooler Tuesday morning in the Bad Lands, by Friday, the thermometer in our Bismarck home recorded 100 degrees! That, gentle reader, is too extreme. But the walleye are biting on the Missouri River, and the gardens look splendid (well, some of the new annuals are pretty wilted from the …