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Landscapes, Gardens, Birds, and Butterflies

Lilacs and raspberries can attract bees, butterflies, and birds

Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly. Photo by the author.

“Give food to the birds, you will then be surrounded by the wings of love, you will be encompassed by the joys of little silent hearts! “— Mehmet Murat Ildan

To help us enjoy the long Minnesota winters as well as the warmer seasons, my wife and I fill our bird feeder daily. We also hang suet cakes in one or two trees.

A yellow-bellied marmot seems to pose for a portrait. Photo by the author.

Wildlife and Photography

Sometimes, seemingly humbles animals demands the most attention

Each species is a masterpiece, a creation assembled with extreme care and genius. — E. O. Wilson

The yellow-bellied marmot is a large ground squirrel. These rodents inhabit the mountains of the western United States and southwestern Canada.

These cute and chunky marmots can weigh up to 11 pounds. They can grow to 27 inches long.

Birds and Photography

Handsome northern cardinals might be the most popular songbird in North America

Male northern cardinal. Photo by the author.

Whenever I hike through the woods of Essex Park, a mile from home, northern cardinals seem to welcome me. At most any moment, one or two males sing to mark their territories.

Birds, Nature, and Photography

The great bird migration along the Mississippi Flyway in the central United States starts in March each year. It’s a fantastic time to watch and photograph birds.

Trumpeter swans in flight. Photo by the author.

Over the years, I have asked many people what their favorite season is. Ninety percent or more have answered fall. They describe the cool crisp air and the fall colors.

I appreciate all seasons, but spring and summer are my favorites. New life begins and old life renews in springtime. Summer continues the process through warmth, water, and sunshine.

Many birds live in Southeastern Minnesota year-round. But many more return each spring or pass through on their journeys northward.

This story features birds that I photographed near home starting in March. …

Birds and Photography

In praise of the small and ever-present black-capped chickadee

Photo by the author.

“Ah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do that, my little chickadee.” — Flower Belle Lee as played by Mae West in the 1940 movie, “My Little Chickadee”

Birds and Photography

A pair of belted kingfisher has outfoxed me for months. But today I captured an acceptable photo of one of the birds.

Belted kingfisher. Photo courtesy of Dennis Buchner on Unsplash.

My first sight of a pair of belted kingfishers last winter in Essex Park delighted me. The unique birds darted over the little creek that meanders through the park. They emitted a loud and continuous strident rattling sound as they flew.

Essex Park, two miles from my house in Rochester, Minnesota, is the home of the kingfisher pair. They live in a burrow high up in the bank of the creek.

Wildlife and Photography

Industrious beavers are a joy to watch, even in town

Beaver. Photo by the author.

A good thing happened on the way to the duck pond the other day. I spotted a beaver.

On most days, after breakfast, I ride my bike to a local park or pond. There, I hike and photograph birds. It has almost become a ritual.

Butterflies, Nature, and Photography

Butterflies enrich our world through color, shape, movement, and pollination

Eastern tiger swallowtail on a purple coneflower. Photo by the author.

Butterflies beautify our world as they flutter with elegance from blossom to blossom. Their four-stage insect life cycle fascinates us.


Cornfields surround Des Moines. But the Iowa city features vibrant art and architecture.

Iowa state capitol and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Photo by the author.

My wife and I recently traveled to Iowa to visit our son, a design student at Iowa State University in Ames. After we enjoyed our time with him, we traveled 35 miles south to Des Moines to spend the night.

We savored our mini-vacation in Des Moines, Iowa’s largest city. The sights and food surpassed our expectations.

Des Moines and Iowa are located within the Midwest region of the United States. The city was incorporated in 1861 and took its name from Fort Des Moines (1843–1846).

Des Moines is a walkable city. This article describes locations within a 1-mile by…

War Heroes in History

Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, soldiers in the all-Black 39th Infantry Regiment of Harlem, were America’s first heroes in World War I

“On May 15, 1918, Henry Johnson became a legend,” — President Barack Obama

Our Colored Heroes (1918), by E.G. Renesch of Chicago, dramatized Johnson’s actions in war. Public domain.

General George Washington, Sergeant Alvin York, Sergeant Audie Murphy, and General George S. Patton are known to many Americans as war heroes. But African-American soldier Sergeant Henry Johnson, who fought valiantly against German soldiers in the Argonne Forest of the Champagne region in France in World War I, was another great American hero.

Born William Henry Johnson in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on about August 15 in 1892, Johnson moved to Albany, New York as a teen. …

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