BOW February Newsletter and Classes

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minnesota department of natural resources

Becoming An Outdoors Woman February Newsletter

February 2021

Northern Cardinal

Minnesota Birding 

Winter in Minnesota is a great time to go birding. Birding can be as simple as viewing birds outside your window, at a bird feeder or trekking through a nearby state park.

Winter marks the arrival of artic birds from the north. Species common at feeders during winter vary with location but some common species include boreal chickadees, evening grosbeaks, pine grosbeaks, juncos, hoary redpolls, common redpolls, blue jays, goldfinch, northern cardinal (pictured), red-bellied woodpeckers, snow buntings, pine siskins, red-breasted nuthatch and many more. Many owls also arrive from the north such as the snowy, boreal, northern hawk and great gray.

Feeding birds is a fun way to see birds up close from the comfort of your house. The Department of Natural resource provides a list of bird feeding tips  for attracting summer, spring, fall and winter species as well as information to keep your feeders clean. The DNR also provides a very cool interactive bird song poster. Hover over a bird on the poster to identify and hear the multiple songs of the bird.

Hiking through the woods is also a great way to see birds. Many of our Minnesota State Parks even provide free loaner bird kit and provide bird check off guides Winter is here and so is the season to enjoy an increasingly popular Minnesota pastime - ice fishing.

Carrol Henderson

NEW! Attracting Spring Hummingbirds Webinar, February 10

BOW is very proud to announce that one of BOW’s all-time favorite presenters, Carrol Henderson former Director of DNR's Non-Game Wildlife, will be providing a live talk on how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard this spring! Join Carrol on February 10 from Noon to 1 p.m. . Register here for this free webinar open to women and families.

Mandy Uhrich

Basics of Ice Fishing Recorded Webinar

If you missed the live presentation by Mandy Uhrich on the Basics of Ice fishing on January 14 the presentation was recorded and now available for viewing at:  Activity descriptions | Minnesota DNR (

Professional angler Mandy Uhrich's presentation covered equipment and techniques needed for this winter tradition.


Nicola Blake-Bradley

My Birding far                         

By Nicola Bradley-Blake

Nicola, pictured to the right, is a BOW steering committee member and volunteer BOW birding instructor.

I grew up in east-central Minnesota, an area that some people refer to as “the sticks” and others as “God’s Country.” We lived a half-mile from our nearest neighbor and nature abounded. There were not any city disturbances such as lights to drown out the night sky or constant traffic to hide the sounds of nature at all hours. In this natural setting, I connected to nature in a way that I miss now that I live in the city. As a result, these days I work to make my yard wildlife and bird friendly.

My father was a farmer so we were up early every day to do our chores. Living and working on a farm, there were always birds around to learn about and enjoy. My father was not an educated man but he started my interest in birds by teaching me the ones he knew. Some birds he named creatively… mud daubers (Cliff Swallows), sump pumpers (American Bittern), and wild canaries (American Goldfinch), for example. He knew the common ones, including robins, ruby-throated hummingbirds, mourning doves, white-breasted nuthatches, and red-winged blackbirds. He also knew the birds  that name themselves by their calls - killdeer, black-capped chickadee, catbird, and Blue Jay - or by their choice of home, such as barn swallows. I found myself watching birds and taking elective courses in high school that had to do with nature. That is where I learned more about birds and their calls. I would later learn the correct names of the birds I knew locally.

When I went off to college, it did not surprise my parents that I wanted to focus on biology, ecology and the natural world. My advisor was BIG into ornithology and encouraged my interest. I met other professors and staff who were birders and encouraged me to join the local Audubon Society. Eventually, I did join the local chapter and I have enjoyed birding with other enthusiasts over the years. I still consider myself a relative amateur when it comes to birding, though. Birding is a hobby for me, and I still have much to learn.

So, what does one need to become a birder? There isn’t special clothing, really, but I always recommend dressing in layers for Minnesota weather (if you’re going to be outside) and proper footwear for the terrain you plan to walk (if you’re walking).  You do NOT need a degree! Curiosity and desire are the two big ones, in my opinion. A guide (either human or book or even a telephone app), binoculars (optional, but they sure help), time and a place to watch birds round out my list of “must haves”. I feel like anyone can bird anywhere, at any time, for any amount of time!

When I start to try to identify a bird, I first look at their size and shape compared to something I already know (robin or goose, for example). Then I start looking for field markings (beak or bill, feet, and colors). I also note where they are (pond, forest, prairie, yard, etc.) and what they are doing (behavior). If they were calling, what did it sound like? If I cannot figure out what I was looking at, those characteristics will help other birders help me to narrow it down or figure it out.

What I would say to anyone that has an interest in birding is to give yourself time and a break. You do not have to learn every bird overnight and you already know more than you might think. Never feel silly asking others for help. Most birders are happy to assist a new birder… or even an “old” birder! The last year and social distancing seemed to cause an increase in birdwatching, both in the field and the back yard. I hope that people find the same joy in watching birds’ antics as much as I do!

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program (BOW)

The BOW program provides hunting, fishing, and non-consumptive outdoor skills classes to women in a safe and supportive environment. BOW works cooperatively with DNR staff, volunteers and outside agencies to provide opportunities for women to learn skills. BOW is guided by a volunteer steering committee. To learn more visit the BOW Website

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