Backyard nature: 'Funny-looking birds' on Linnea's playset

An illustration of a wood duck
Jiwon Choi | MPR News

With her preschool canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, this spring was the ideal time for 5-year-old Linnea to get a new playset in her backyard for her and her sister.

“It's big and it has a roof and it has three swings,” she said, excited by her new toy.

And Linnea’s mom, Terri Poe, was also looking forward to it, too — for her own reasons.

A duck sits on top of a playset
A wood duck sits on top of the Poe family's backyard playset.
Submitted image

“I'm kind of a bird person and I knew there would be some interested birds to check out the swingset, because that's what they do when something's new in the neighborhood,” Terri said. “I was kind of keeping an eye on it, wondering who would be the first couple to check it out.”

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But it wasn’t Terri who saw the first birds. It was Linnea. 

Terri remembers it: “In the morning when she woke up, [Linnea] said, ‘Mommy, there's some funny-looking birds making a mess on the swing set” — a boy and a girl, per Linnea’s memory — “and I looked outside and they were a pair of wood ducks and they were so adorably perched on top of it, which is something they do when they're looking for a nest.”

They weren’t nesting, but they were making themselves known.

Wood duck
A wood duck
Dan Gunderson | MPR News file

“But they were sort of claiming it and kind of squeaking at each other 'cause they make these cute squeaking sounds and we just laughed and we loved it,” Terri said. “It was really cute.”

Cooped up at their Anoka home, these funny looking birds brought the family joy. Terri whipped out her phone’s camera and documented the whole thing.

The family lives near the Mississippi River, so interesting wildlife isn’t uncommon. But despite the slower world bringing more nature into people’s territory, that isn’t the case in their Terri and Linnea’s neighborhood.

“My neighbor has started letting her cat out and she didn't used to,” she said, “so unfortunately, we had more last year than this year.”