The Last Windrow: Buzzzzzz … Minnesota’s other, annoying state bird is in full buzz mode – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

Most folks who journey to or live close to Minnesota know that the officially recognized state bird is the loon.

The bird that cannot walk on land is promoted on car license plates, seen on cookie jars and graces the front of T-shirts worn by both residents and tourists. The loon is one of Minnesota’s icons.

But, there is another.

Some idealistic advertiser somewhere decided that the other official state bird of Minnesota should be the ever-loving mosquito.

The insect that this year has presented itself in droves after a wetter than usual winter and spring is getting our attention. Living through a semi-drought for the past four years, Minnesotans had somehow lost sight of the fact that when water ponds up in low spots and in used tires, the mosquito will find its way back to the landscape.

Growing up in an area of ​​Iowa that didn’t feature many lakes, the river bottoms were the haven of the little beasts that sucked blood out of a human at a dangerous pace. Those same river bottoms were the place I and my relatives fished for channel catfish at night.

I sat on the river’s edge, doused in a repellent called “612.” I don’t know what was in that bottle, but when you yourself with it you could virtually hear the coated pores in your skin being sealed shut.

Even with that protection, when you left your fishing spot and ran for your car, you ran as fast as you could lest you be left drained of blood and lying pale on the river bottom.

I and my dad and cousin made a sudden catfishing trip to the Red River of the North one summer day. We arrived at a place called Fort Abercrombie around 1 in the morning. Our fishing rods were eagerly unpacked from the trunk of our car and we headed for the edge of the flowing river.

Within 10 minutes of our arrival we were greeted by mosquitoes so thick one could swat dozens at a time as they drilled into our hides. Even the “612” didn’t help.

We ran back to the car wondering if the horde would ever let up. They didn’t. I spent the rest of the night lying in the back seat of the car breathing secondhand smoke as both my dad and my cousin lit up in the front seat. The memory is still vivid after all those years.

We are told by bird experts that the reason the Minnesota lake country attract so many birds from the jungles of Central and South America is our ample supply of mosquitoes. It seems the birds have found that if they show up early enough in the season, they will be rewarded with an ample supply of protein provided by the bugs.

I and my wife enjoy supplying feed for those birds, but we must run the gauntlet to the feeders every day hoping to come back inside the house with a minimum of puncture wounds.

Recently I’ve noticed a number of outdoor graduation parties going on around town. Crowds have gathered to wish the new graduates well while standing outside the garage with a plate of cheese and crackers in their hands.

I should say they have the plate in one hand while they swat at unseen mosquitoes hovering around their bodies with the other. The people all seem to be waving to each other when they are really just trying to exist and find a reason to move on to the next party.

Summer has begun in lake country. The sun is high and the days are long.

John Wetrosky (2022)

In Minnesota, the official state bird, the loon, is heard trilling in the early mornings and at evening time. When the loons quit trilling, the other state bird takes over. They don’t trill, they buzz. Usually next to your ear.

I really don’t see much humor in wearing a T-shirt giving the bug any undue positive recognition. I just swatted one on this computer monitor. Enough said.

See you next time. Okay?


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