The North Dakota Legislature met its Crossover deadline last week and took a break. Lawmakers were to be back at work Wednesday, day 37 of the current session. That means legislators have 44 days to finish up by the constitutional deadline of 80 days. Leaders in both parties and both houses suggested last week that the session will end in mid-April, leaving time to reconvene if issues arise. That means adjournment could come before Easter.
This week's theme is "to see ourselves as others see us," and our lens is Dean Bresciani. Bresciani is president of North Dakota State University.
Well, it was a weird week at the capitol. The weather outside was tough. The atmosphere inside wasn't especially warm and welcoming. Yet there was a strong sense of anticipation. For the sake of history, let's deal with the weirdness up front. We'll return to consider the anticipation. Brent Sanford, the new lieutenant governor, took the oath of office in the Senate chamber. All of the others were sworn in the House chamber, just ahead of the governor's state-of-the-state-address. Nor did Sanford preside at the special session to hear the speech.
While I was going after the mail the other day, a flock of blackbirds settled into the shelterbelt. Most of them were red wings, as far as I could tell, although I didn't examine every individual bird. My copy of "Bird Watcher's Digest," dated September/October 2016, was in the box. The cover species was rusty blackbird. It's a coincidence, of course, but with connections. Red-winged and rusty blackbirds are relatives, two of more than 100 species of blackbirds in the Western Hemisphere.
A number of ducks occur around the Northern Hemisphere. Some common species are among them. These include gadwall, blue-winged teal, mallard, northern pintail, northern shoveler and common goldeneye. Duck watchers on three continents find these birds easily, because these are birds of temperate regions, including the plains of North America, where we live. In contrast, greater scaup are northerners. Except for a small population in the northern basin of Lake Winnipeg and in a couple of Canadian mountain lakes, these ducks nest exclusively in the Arctic.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—Poor Dean Bresciani. He intended to shoot the media in the head, it seems, but when the gun went off, the bullet hit Bresciani himself. Somewhere above his foot. Then the media shot him in the back. Such is the latest chapter in the story of North Dakota State University's current president. Ten days ago, NDSU announced a policy that restricted media access to its football and men's basketball teams. This was couched in fine words about branding and protecting the privacy of athletes.
It could be that there's been a bigger upset in North Dakota's political history, but the occasion doesn't leap immediately to mind. Doug Burgum carried 49 of 53 counties in Tuesday's primary election. In 17 of them, he won more than 60 percent of the votes. Statewide, his winning margin was 59.5 percent to 38.6 percent for Wayne Stenehjem, the attorney general. Votes for the third candidate, Paul Sorum, and a total of 50 write-ins account for the rest.
Two things about Ed Schafer’s endorsement of Doug Burgum are hard to accept. Not that he did it. He’s the state’s pre-eminent political figure. Of course he has political opinions...
You shouldn’t expect to see a burrowing owl in the Red River Valley, but the unexpected sometimes happens. Last week, a burrowing owl showed up near Park River, N.D. That’s not quite in the Red River Valley. Park River is on the ridge marking the western edge of the valley. But the owl was east of Park River. The owl was in an unexpected spot, too, on the shoulder of a country road. In every direction, the land was brilliantly green with growing crops.
The killdeer is a familiar bird that still maintains an aura of mystery. It is much admired for its "broken wing" antics, which it uses to draw predators away from its nest and young. Its call is familiar, a loud two notes often repeated: "Kill-dee! Kill-dee!" Hence the bird's name. Killdeer are easily recognized by sight, too. Their facial pattern is unique, and the double band on the breast separates them from other birds of similar size, shape and habits. This is one facet of mystery for beginning birders.