Rare bird visitor to UMC marks a first for Polk County

The University of Minnesota-Crookston reported this morning that a Eurasian tree sparrow made a stop on the campus this week.

A Eurasian tree sparrow (lower left) and a house sparrow (upper right) share space this week at the bird feeder in the Nature Nook on the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus. Photo by John Zak, UMC University Relations.

According to a UMC news release, the sighting of the bird in the Nature Nook near Owen Hall is the first record for Polk County and only the ninth in Minnesota.

Known for its chocolate-colored crown and black throat and cheeks, the sparrow is commonly found around St. Louis.

In the UMC news release, Vanessa Lane, a lecturer in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, noted that it is “unusual for this non-native species to be spotted so far from its home in Missouri.”

‘Mostly clear’ in GF forecast for overnight lunar eclipse

Despite the snow that was falling outside the window a few minutes ago, the weather forecast in the Grand Forks area is looking favorable for the total lunar eclipse that is set to occur in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Being somewhat of a night owl, I’ll probably venture out to see what I can see, perhaps with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” playing on my iPod. It would be the perfect combination for a lunar eclipse, methinks.

According to “Astro Bob” of Duluth who writes a blog on “celestial happenings you can see from your backyard,” the show will get started about 12:20 a.m. CDT, and the total eclipse will begin at 2:07 a.m.

Astro Bob also is a photographer for the Duluth News Tribune, a Forum Communications newspaper and one of the Herald’s sister papers.

I checked the Grand Forks forecast on Intellicast, which offers an hour-by-hour summary of weather conditions, and the sky is supposed to be “mostly clear” from midnight through 5 a.m. It’ll be chilly, though, with temps in the high teens.

For more info about the eclipse, check out Astro Bob’s blog here.


Deer feeding effort winding down in northeast Minnesota

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association announced Thursday that Saturday will be the last day for distributing deer feed in northeast Minnesota.

The snow has melted steadily during the recent warm-up, MDHA said, and the need for providing supplemental food for the deer has passed.

While the feeding effort is winding down, MDHA said the same amount of feed will be available Saturday as in previous weeks, and everyone feeding deer should continue to feed through the following week until all feed supplies are gone.

MDHA also provided some preliminary stats on this winter’s deer-feeding campaign:

Nearly 1,000 volunteer feeders.

More than 1,000 feeding sites in the 13 approved zones.

Approximately 15,000 deer fed each week.

528 tons of feed purchased.

Nearly $200,000 spent on feed and shipping/handling.

Eight local MDHA chapters, one rod and gun club and one snowmobile club participated in organizing distributions.

And (best of all) …

One long winter and one very welcome spring!

Final numbers will be available after June 30 through MDHA’s report to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the group said.