The list of birds associated with November runs to a dozen or more species, including eagles, swans, woodpeckers, northern owls and northern hawks, snow buntings, redpolls, siskins, juncos and so on. But to me, the nuthatches best match the mood of the month. Two species occur here. The white-breasted nuthatch is a year-round resident. The red-breasted nuthatch is mostly a winter visitor, and it often appears in early November. The nuthatches are very similar in appearance and habit, but with notable differences.
It is tempting to look back on elections through rose-colored glasses. Elections, after all, are meant to resolve issues, thus creating a sense of certainty and some confidence that politics will proceed as they have unfolded up to now. A kaleidoscope may be a more appropriate eyepiece, however, because at a turn it presents a different picture; the orderly arrangement and its predicted outcomes falls away, and different consequences present themselves.
Canada geese are common and conspicuous and not at all shy. A large flock spent much of October loafing along North Columbia Road. Of course, it wasn't the street that attracted the geese. It happens that Columbia Road runs parallel to the English Coulee for a quarter of a mile or so, so the loafers were easily observable. Geese are waterfowl, but it probably wasn't the presence of water alone that attracted so many geese. Many of them spent their leisure time on the coulee banks, which are closely cropped by cattle.
This is Election Day, and while each of us may anticipate different results, we'll likely agree about the best feature of the day: silence. The silence at the end of a campaign is always welcome, of course, and perhaps the more so after a noisy and divisive campaign. This year's silence is especially precious because it is likely to be brief. Just as we Americans now live in a continuous news cycle, we also live in a continuous campaign, and this is true not only at the national level.
The snow bunting is as much a sign of changing seasons as the robin, but perhaps not so welcome. The robin announces spring, while the bunting arrives with the snow. With us it is a winter bird. It is the same for most Canadians, most Icelanders, most Scandinavians, most Finns and most Russians, in fact for almost all humans who live south of the Arctic Circle.
Kevin Cramer’s remark about a “Hail Mary pass” brought catcalls and groans from some in Friday night’s audience at the U.S. Senate debate. My own first reaction was “typical Cramer” and the remark had the same dismissive tone he often uses (some examples of which have been used in television advertising). This time it also happens to be the truth.
The sandhill crane has a way of taking over an open landscape or a clear sky, and in North Dakota, it has become a roadside attraction. The world's largest sandhill crane is just off Interstate 94 at the exit to Steele, N.D., county seat of Kidder County, heart of the state's sandhill crane country.
The U.S. Senate campaign keeps delivering surprises. A couple of weeks ago, this column used the word "national" to describe the campaign. This week, the campaign seems much more parochial, even personal, concentrating on North Dakota issues and aimed at North Dakota interest groups. The change showed up in advertising, including the topics chosen, positions taken and media used.
The robin may be the most familiar bird in America, but it probably is not the best known. The difference is important. A bird may be widely recognized while its behavior, even its character, is not well understood, and that is the case with the American robin. Only a handful of birds have the adjective "American" as part of their names. This use is fitting in the case of the robin, because it occurs almost everywhere in North America. Few species, in fact, are as widespread, and the robin is by far the most likely of these to be encountered.
The news about higher education in North Dakota adds up to a stark realization. The state has reached a remarkable moment. Let's take stock: Presidents of the two largest colleges, North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota, have launched a campaign to establish a shared research fund. UND's Mark Kennedy and NDSU's Dean Bresciani took the idea to communities across the state last week. Each would get $25 million a year, a total of $100 million in the next two-year budget cycle.