Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bon Bon Pond Mystery

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on my bench, enjoying the fountain and the front yard bird activity when I was startled by a most unexpected sight.  Peanut, my beloved Red-breasted Nuthatch, had returned to Bon Bon Pond!  I blinked, and blinked again, and sure as shootin’ there was my unmistakable ball of energy perched on the rim of the bird bath!   While Peanut’s homecoming is always a time of great  joy, I am left puzzled and a bit concerned by his way early and off-schedule return.

This “Bird of the Boundary Waters”  traditionally spends his summers in the soft conifer trees of northern Minnesota raising its young and moves southward in the state during cold weather months. 

Since beginning my Adventures in Birding, I have carefully tracked Red-breasted Nuthatch migrations and have usually found them to be off by only a matter of a couple weeks.  For instance, in 2010 he left Bon Bon Pond on June 2nd and returned the first week of September.  In 2011 he also left the first week of June and returned the third week of August.  This year his last sighting was May 17th with a reappearance on July 11th which means his summer migration lasted exactly eight weeks!  Eggs of the Red-breasted Nuthatch have an 11-12 day incubation period, followed by a 14-20 day fledging, so the numbers tell me the birds had time to nest and raise their young but they sure didn’t stay a moment longer than necessary. 

On its own, Red-breasted Nuthatch migration might seem anecdotal, but last week I was stunned to find a Pine Siskin at the hearts feeder.  This is another bird of northern Minnesota which moves southward in cold weather. 

What in the world are my winter residents doing in south central Minnesota the second week of July? 

This is all strange.  Very strange.  Donning my deerstalker cap, I have channeled my inner Sherlock Homes and attempted to explain this mystery.  Here are my theories:
  1. The jet streams are changing and with them the weather patterns for the Midwest.  Minnesota is becoming hotter and dryer in the summer with much milder winters.  These meteorological changes are affecting the migration schedules of area birds.
  2. Migrating birds have become accustomed to the easy and plentiful supply of their favorite foods at Bon Bon Pond and are thus in a hurry to return with their young.  
  3. My birds just love me!  :-)
I will continue to keep a close eye on the feeders and monitor comings and goings.  Stay tuned for further updates . . .


  1. How delightful that Peanut is back and how strange! How do you recognize Peanut?

  2. Hi Choo! I should have made this clearer before. ALL my darling little Red-breasted Nuthatches are Peanut to me. The ladies, which have a gray cap and pale tummy are "Mrs. Peanut" and the boys, with their black caps and rust-colored tummies, are "Mr. Peanut." They don't seem to mind as long as mommy provides plenty of actual peanuts! :-)

    P.S. Both the boys and girls are back!


Thank you for taking the time to give us your comments!