Photo Essay

My Favorite Migratory Birds

Tennessee Warbler and Cape May Warbler performance

This spring we had the pleasure of seeing a variety of warblers who normally have not come that much to our feeder in past years as they are in the habit of eating bugs off the flowering trees and nectar...But we had a long winter and everything was late this spring. I am including some of my favorite migratory birds in this essay and also a nature study journal that my late grandmother wrote in 1905 when she was 22 years old...

My grandmother, Bessie Turner Wilson was a school teacher in Brainerd, Minnesota, before she married my grandfather Fred Wilson in 1907. She attended St. Cloud Minnesota Normal to achieve her training right out of grade school. On a visit to the home place at Christmas time in 2001, my mother mentioned she had some old writings dating back to the 1900's that contained Grandma's journal of notes while she was teaching.

Little did I know the work this would entail as the script written in pencil was so faded I could not read it without the aid of a magnifying glass and the wing of a prayer! It was like trying to fill in the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. But at the end, it was similar to finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow..This was a part of my grandmother's past that I never knew...She was a very private person who seldom talked about that period of her life.

My grandmother loved birds and she could identify most of them...She could whistle like a bird..She was very proficient in being able to identify almost any kind of trees, plants or flowers..She certainly had a green thumb as everything she grew flourished under her tender loving care..

Below are some notes in her diary that Grandma wrote when she was 22 years old, after taking a nature walk with a group of her students and other teachers...

Grandma's Nature Study Notes By Bessie Turner Wilson, June 28,1905

"We went through the woods on the other side of the west Brainerd Bridge and found a wren's nest with young birds in it and also a yellow canary's nest which was empty. They were near the river under the bridge. We also found the spittle quite abundant on the jack-pine trees and the rosin ball with a caterpillar wrapped in it.

Mr. Teange explained to us about the lichen growing on the trees and ground and told us about mushrooms, puff balls, toad stools, etc. The weed which grows near the bridge is Hemp. This morning, June 28, we learned about the Sapsucker, Downy woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, Grosbeak, & Purple Finch which is wine color and is found in Wisconsin. We also learned about Chimney Swifts, Martin, Brown Creepers, Barn Swallows, Blue Bird, Blue Jay, Kingfisher, Red Winged Blackbird, Red Headed Woodpecker, Sapsucker, Yellow Hammer, Night-Hawk, Sea Gull, Tern, Cliff Swallows and Bank Swallows."

Grandma's Nature Study Notes Two (continued) by Bessie Turner Wilson July 12, 1905

"We met at the dam about three o'clock. Then some of the girls stayed there awhile until the crowd with Mr.Teange came. The dam was very fierce looking and dangerous as it went splashing over the dykes.

After we had looked at the dam as long as we wanted to, we crossed the bridge and went over into the woods under some shady pine trees and sat down,while Mr.Teange told us of the giant trees in Colorado and their great age. He also broke off some branches of trees and asked us the names of them, and told us the names of some weeds which were growing around. We listened to the call of the Red eyed Vireo and to other birds and saw the Scarlet Tanager fly over. Miss Burrel had her drawing class sit in the road and sketch a picture of the road and a White pine tree. Then we were dismissed. It was seven o'clock before I got to my boarding place."

I would like to conclude my essay with saying that most of our our migratory birds have left now except for the Ruby- throated Hummingbirds and Gray Catbird this month of June. I will never forget the Warblers who left their deepest impression on my heart in the spring of 2014.

An update: I have added another warbler to my series on August 29th. A young American Red Start came to our feeder in the rain and looked through the window as I photographed her. She was born earlier in the spring.

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23 responses

  • Aaron Schwartz

    Aaron Schwartz gave props (21 May 2014):

    Excellent. Got my vote.

  • Davide Simone

    Davide Simone said (21 May 2014):

    Excellent. Got my vote.

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon said (21 May 2014):

    An exceptional collection of song bird images and I love the narrative. Bird photography is very challenging and you have taken it to a new level with the images in this photo essay! Voted!

  • rekha nag

    rekha nag gave props (22 May 2014):

    Great story of your late grandmother. She was indeed a good teacher and a nature lover. You got my vote!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (22 May 2014):

    Voted! so glad this is a story..I really cannot look at a 'bird image' now, without thinking of you and your exceptional images...well deserving of this win!

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (22 May 2014):

    Just a wonderful story ,memories, and beautiful photos Andrea! Voted!

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (23 May 2014):

    Expert in study and photography of Birds....Outstanding National Geographic shots by our great friend Andrea!!!Vote!!!

  • Susan Littlefield

    Susan Littlefield gave props (23 May 2014):

    An outstanding collection of beautiful photos......voted!!

  • Ioana Caravan

    Ioana Caravan   gave props (23 May 2014):

    Lovely story and exceptional photos!

  • Ann Reece

    Ann Reece   gave props (23 May 2014):

    This is a wonderful photo essay, the photos are exquisite and how wonderful to be able to read what your grandmother wrote when she was growing up and in school. I think that you are very much like your grandmother with the same love of nature and the birds : ). Voted!!!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen said (26 May 2014):

    A special thanks to JanElle Heather for nominating this story last
    week and Davide Simone for nominating it this week...Appreciated.
    Thank you also for the comments, views and votes!

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) said (29 May 2014):

    Voted this week!

  • Jane McLaughlin

    Jane McLaughlin (Deleted) said (5 Jun 2014):

    I love the narrative and these bird photos are beautiful. Seems you are following in you talented grandmother!

  • Michele Wambaugh

    Michele Wambaugh (Deleted) said (7 Jun 2014):

    What a wonderful essay & images, Andrea! voted!

  • Donald Garrett

    Donald Garrett gave props (30 Aug 2014):

    VOTED! A most excellent presentation here.


    ROCIO GUILLEN gave props (2 Sep 2014):

    Voted, Andrea!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen said (10 Feb 2015):

    Thank you so much Saroj Swain for your kind nomination on February 10, 2015 and for the nominations earlier...So appreciated.
    I am looking forward to seeing more migratory birds this spring..
    Thanks for your comments!

  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) said (12 Feb 2015):


  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (14 Feb 2015):


  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) said (13 Mar 2015):

    Nominated! such beautiful photos!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen said (13 Mar 2015):

    Thank you so much Donna for nominating this photo essay on 3/13/2015. I really appreciate your kind gesture, comments
    and votes!!!

  • Nasrin Tajadod

    Nasrin Tajadod gave props (18 Jan 2016):

    dear Andrea I enjoyed your story and learned things about vareity birds and your expriences .my vote

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen said (18 Jan 2016):

    Thank you Nasrin ...Your words made me feel happy and I am so
    grateful my photo essay was appreciated!

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