What to give the bird lover in your life for Christmas this year

Published 10:00 am Sunday, December 20, 2015

A red-bellied woodpecker is a year-long visitor to the backyard feeders. - Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

A red-bellied woodpecker is a year-long visitor to the backyard feeders. – Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I woke up this morning and there was a pile of clothes in a gigantic heap on the floor. And my brother Cranston was still in them. He had gotten to the point where he wouldn’t bend over to tie his shoes until he had something else to do while he was down there. Cranston is a famed indoorsman, but he has taken up jogging. It’s not a pretty sight. He underthinks everything. He blew the dust off his old high school basketball shoes and took off. After running a block, he began sobbing. He hadn’t cried like that since he was hit by a school bus on his way home from grade school. When he stopped jogging, parts of him kept moving for 10 minutes. Oh, an armored car pulled into my yard the other day.”

Email newsletter signup

“An armored car? What was it doing at your place?” I say.

“Even though I try to confine myself to the $100 or less lane, Christmas shopping is expensive.”

“What has that got to do with an armored car visiting your place?” I ask.

“It delivered my credit card bill.”

A neighbor knocks at my door

Knock knock?

Who’s there?


Crows who?

No, crows caw.


Free bird guide

Give yourself the gift of Audubon’s free bird guide app. The award-winning app turns a mobile device into a North American field guide. The app has 821 species and offers photos, sounds, range and description. It’s available via iTunes, Google Play and Amazon.



“I saw some snails on the road last summer. What were they doing?” About one mile per day.

“What are some good Christmas gifts for the nature lover?” Bird feeder, mittens, fingerless gloves, binoculars, field guides (books and online), birdseed, state parks vehicle permit, Audubon membership, backpack or a flashlight. A Federal Duck Stamp is a simple way to support the conservation of bird habitat. Duck Stamps are conservation revenue stamps with 98 percent of the purchase price going directly to help acquire and protect wetland habitat and purchase conservation easements for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Wetlands help purify water, aid in flood control, reduce soil erosion and sedimentation, and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities. Since the inception of the Duck Stamp in 1934, over 6 million acres of wetland and grassland habitat have been protected. A stamp costs $25 and is available at post offices and National Wildlife Refuges. A Duck Stamp provides a free pass into any National Wildlife Refuge that charges an entry fee. A camera, wool socks, or a pocket notebook in case someone on your Christmas list might one day be desirous of writing something down. A note to himself or herself. It happens. I know what you are saying, “So I give everyone a notebook. What would they write with?” That’s an excellent question and likely the reason why you are sitting in the front row. You could give a combo gift. A notebook and a Fisher Space Pen. A Fisher Space Pen fits comfortably in a pants pocket and the pen writes upside down. I use one of those handy pens most days. Let’s face it, we all

need to write upside down more often. But wait, there’s more. A nice travel mug that doesn’t leak or spill. My bride gave me a Contigo Mug. I feel safe holding it upside down over my lap even when my mug is filled with hot tea. I tested it on a neighbor. Not a single drip or scream. I squeeze it when I want to drink and when I relax my grip, it seals the opening. And it’s just that easy. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, but not if you put both in the mug at the same time.

“Where is the best place for me to practice my loon calls?” At Death Valley, right next to the novice bagpipe player.

“How many species of bats are there in Minnesota?” There are seven, all small creatures. The little brown bat, northern myotis, big brown bat and eastern pipistrelle (tricolored bat) can be found in groups in caves, buildings and hollow trees. They typically feed over fields, along woodland edges or over water. Silver-haired bat, red bat, and hoary bat are commonly called tree bats, reflecting their preferred habitat. They lead solitary lives, roosting in trees and feeding in or around forested areas.

Thanks for stopping by

“If toast always lands butter-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you strap toast on the back of a cat and drop it?” — Steven Wright

“There are three stages of scientific discovery: first people deny it is true; then they deny it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.” — Alexander von Humboldt

“Christmas is a time when you get homesick — even when you’re home.” — Carol Nelson