By Joan Larsen
After a lifetime of living in America’s Midwest – the center of the country – I have found that the most natural and beautiful cities to be found there are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota areas. The approach from any direction is like suddenly arriving in another world. Cities of rolling hills and curved streets with homes snuggled in to the forests and small lakes that often are your back yards. . . but back yards that city dwellers rarely see.
Even on the major interstates, one sees marshes with birds rarely seen by those of us living in urban areas. Everywhere where there is standing water, the word is obviously out on the bird pipeline that if you – the bird – want to live in the most beautiful of Midwest settings – you will be able to afford a high-rent setting like this at no cost.
Humans seem to actually stop and pull out binoculars to get a glimpse of you here. . . which is equivalent to movie star status. Many of the smaller birds stay year-round in this forested place. Often I am positive that the profusion in December of red-headed woodpeckers standing on the side of trees at window level are actually looking in the windows, checking out the quality of the neighbors . . . us. They obviously like what they see.
But nature lovers in Minnesota carry it another step farther. Using telephone poles as base, large platforms are built for ospreys – a very large bird with always hungry chicks – who return to that nesting spot each year with the same partner. Ospreys only eat fish and so the very high nests are adjacent to rivers and lakes where the large fish are abundant. Once the babies are born, they are starving, taxing the parents to provide large fish in a home delivery, hand feeding bitefuls to the two babes. Usually, webcams are set up so that we in our faraway homes can watch their lives in progress for months. (Right now, watching Laysan Albatross feed their very fat chick in Kauai has been “glued” to the computer.) You will soon see why:
The snow is sky-high in Minneapolis right now. People are home-bound. So yesterday when my daughter saw 4 crows squawking and going wild around a tree in the back yard, she piled all her warm weather gear on to have a look at what could be happening. A first for her: a beautiful bald eagle had chosen her large tree to perch regally – and forever. He seemed eager to pose for pictures. The crows didn’t have a chance.
She caught a photo that is about as good as one could get. And so I have to share it with you – as who has a large bald eagle eying your house as a place to settle in??
Didn’t I tell you that Minneapolis-St. Paul were special? When the world’s most majestic birds are looking it over for their future home, there is no doubt that – even with the birds – this urban area has found its way into the guidebooks as a place absolutely NOT TO BE MISSED!!!
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”