1602 285th Ave. NE
Isanti, MN 55040

Phone: 763-444-8206


Birds at the Pinestead


"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it signs because it has a song."

                   Maya Angelou, author and poet 


Not all of these birds necessarily nest on the farm, but they all visit it from time to time, especially during the Spring and Fall migrations. It may be a stretch, but we have also included a few fly-overs. We know there are quite a few more species, especially the smaller songbirds, that are not yet included below. As we specifically identify them we'll add them to the list. Again, all sightings and photos were at Isanti Pinestead. 


Bald Eagle


We are fortunate to have a pair of nesting Eagles in some pines just adjacent to our property. Fortunate because we are not only treated to the sight of them soaring overhead, but they are part of our aerial defense against the rabbits and mice that can do so much damage to the trees. However, they have extracted payment by helping themselves to some of our smaller chickens. (BMn, 52) 








Baltimore Oriole


Baltimore Orioles are not a frequent visitor at the farm. We don't believe we have any nesting here or we would see and hear them more often. This pair stopped by one of our feeders the the spring for a little OJ before continuing on their trip. (BMn 224) 









We love to watch and listen to the Eastern Bluebirds. We attract them by putting up the Bluebird houses you may have seen around the farm. There is a trick to attracting them as the Starlings arrive here first in the spring and commandeer the Bluebird houses. The trick is to put up the houses in pairs about ten feet apart. A pair of Starlings will occupy one house, and, being territorial, will drive away any Starlings trying to occupy the other house thus leaving it open for the Bluebirds. This photo is of a female. (BMn 60) 





Blue Jay


We don't usually notice them during the summer but they seem to appear later in the fall. We think they like to overwinter in our large White Pines. During the winter they frequent our birdfeeder almost always in pairs. While nice to watch at the feeder, they repeatedly chase away all the smaller birds so that by January they have it all to themselves. The smaller birds move on to somewhere else nearby and don't return here until spring when the Jays head back to northern Minnesota. (BMn 64)






Brown Thrasher

Another bird that we sometimes see amid the trees and brush along the creek. They tend to be mostly "in there" and are heard more often than seen. (BMn 122)









Canada Geese


Canadian Geese may be a nuisance in most areas because of their tendency to heavily fertilize the ground.  But we don't mind them for that very reason--in our light sandy soil we need all the help we can get. (BMn 206)




As the White Pine trees by the barn get larger (now 25 feet or more) they are attracting the Cardinals more and more. But we're not sure exactly where they are nesting. The red of their feathers against the green needle background is as Christmas as you can get. (BMn 234)







The Black-capped Chickadees are frequent guests at our feeder in late fall (until the Blue Jays decide to claim it). They are back later in the spring when the Jays move on. (BMn 172)













Crows are almost always around the farm (just like anywhere else) and, if they are not being chased by smaller birds, they are often chasing the eagles. We always thought their only value was alerting us to fresh roadkill on the highway in front of us, but when the bear came through there was about a half dozen of them circling it and really raising a ruckus. (BMn 14)







There always seem to be a pair or two around. They seem to like to hang around our courtyard area, but often duck into the White Pine for shelter. You would think it would be easy to follow them to their nest, but we haven't found one yet. (BMn 250)








Seagulls in Isanti? Well sort of. More properly known as Ring-billed Gulls, each spring they congregate in a farm field a couple of miles to the south. They are around for a few days and then move on. We often see them flying over our farm at that time, but don't think they ever land here. We think it's because our fields are too clean. The farm down the road must be spreading some organic waste product as fertilizer that attracts them.(BMn 204)




We usually have one or two Great Blue Herons drop by in the spring and check out our creek. By summer it's usually dry so they snub us the remainder of the year. That's their loss because if we get some summer heavy rains and the creek starts to flow again for a few days, we see all sorts of small minnows it (and no, we're not going to set up a fish web page just for the minnows). (BMn 210)


House Sparrow


These seem to be everywhere and we certainly have our share of them.(BMn 94)




We don't have any nectar feeders up, but the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are a frequent visitor to Helen's flower gardens throughout the summer. (BMn 212)


The Dark-eyed Junco seems to be everywhere around the farm in late fall, but then they, like the other smaller over-wintering birds, seem to be driven off by the larger, more aggressive Blue Jays. (BMn 176)



















It is so much fun to watch the Killdeer's antics as the mother try's to keep us away from her nest. What she does is to hop in a direction away from the nest pretending she has a broken wing and trying to get us to follow her. We mean the nest no harm, but she doesn't know that, and keeps it up until we leave the area. (BMs 124)







We doubt if we'll ever get a picture of a loon flying over and they are certainly not going to land in our little pond, but occasionally we'll hear one as it's going between the several lakes in the Cambridge-Isanti area. Invariably we'll stop whatever we're doing and just listen for as long as we can. It always makes us want to forget the farm, pack the gear and canoes and head for the Boundary Waters (one of our favorite places, we have been there many times). There could not have been a better choice for a Minnesota State Bird. (BMn 50)


Mallard Duck

We often see Mallards swimming in our pond in the spring.  They seem to sense that it will go dry later on and never nest there.  However, one year we did have a (deranged?) hen Mallard build a nest under a Balsam Fir tree in the middle of the field!  The eggs hatched, but we don't know if the ducklings survived as they were probably a half-mile from any swimable water. At Greg's house another off-beat hen Mallard nested in a vacant squirrel's nest high in an oak tree. We don't know if the ducklings ever got down safely. (BMn 220)


Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove gets its name from the sound of its cooing, but we think it should rightfully be called "Morning Dove" or even "Evening Dove". Summer wouldn't be summer without being able to wake up with the window open and hear a Mourning Dove off in the distance. (BMn 132)

Northern Flicker


We see a lot of these in the spring. It is not uncommon to walk through a field and see a dozen or so get up - not all at once, but a couple over here, one over there, a few more steps and a couple more. They must scatter even more as summer approaches. We still see a few throughout the rest of the year, but not like in the spring. (BMn130)




Pileated Woodpecker


We have seen them fly out of the woods along the creek. We haven't seen the tell-tale large cavities they make in dead trees, but we don't have too many dead trees and they are probably in some of the neighboring woods. They were a common sight at our original East Bethel farm. (BMn 40)


Red-tailed Hawk


Hawks are another friend that help keep the bark-chewing mice and rabbits in check. We don't think we have any nesting on the farm, but we are certainly on their fly-over list. We're sure there are other types beside the Red-tail, we just don't know our hawks well enough to identify them in flight. (BMn 162)








Red-winged Blackbird


The sound of a Red-winged Blackbird is one of our favorite spring treats. A true sign that spring is really here. It always reminds us of the beautiful song Morning Has Broken, "Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird." We don't have any nesting on the farm, we're too high and dry, but the big marsh next door through which our creek drains is full of them so they are always around. (BMn 6)


Ring-Necked Pheasant


We hear the males cackling more then we see them. We have plenty of good cover for them, but they may be at a low point in their cycle as there have been quite a few less over the past couple of years. (BMn 158)








Robin (BMn, p190)


The one bird everyone knows. It seems like there is always an informal contest in the Spring to be the first to say "I saw a Robin". Usually we wake up one spring morning to see a dozen or so having all arrived at the same time. Then one late summer or early fall day, without having noticed it, we realize they are gone. (BMn190)






Sandhill Crane



They are a frequent visitor and always announce their presence with their distinctive guttural call. They are almost always in pairs and we have never seen more than two pair at any one time. The one on the left was the largest one we have ever seen. He stood between 4-5 feet high. (BMn 208)



What else can you do but tolerate them. You can chase them away, but they just come right back. Starlings seem to be as close to a good-for-nothing bird as you can find. They not only compete for our bluebird houses, they have found openings in the trim on our buildings and made themselves right at home. (BMn 4)  






Tree Swallow


We have two or three pairs of Tree Swallows around the area where the buildings are. We love how graceful they are in the air as they swoop back and forth. They have been much too fast to capture a photo of them in the air, but we keep trying. This one decided to take a break, it's rare that we ever see one sitting long enough to grab the camera.