Birds of a Feather: Lutsen Man Connects with Chickadees

Baihly Warfield
October 06, 2017 06:25 PM

When you pull into the driveway and step out of your vehicle at Dave Brislance's Lutsen home, don't be surprised if you're greeted by feathers. 

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"They're here all the time, winter, summer," Brislance said. "So they're really loyal birds."

He's talking about chickadees. The little birds have become Dave's friends. 

"When I go in the woods, they follow me," he said. "It's like my companions."

When Dave moved up to his wooded Lutsen home, he would feed the chickadees and nuthatches with bird feeders. 

When I'd go out and feed them, I started having them land on my shoulder and my hat," Brislance said. "So I just started taking the seeds with me when I went out in the woods to shoot birds and so forth with my camera."

He is also a wildlife photographer and wanders the woods on his property shooting photos of birds and other animals he comes across. 

"When the leaves are all off, I can go on a trail, and I'll whistle for them. And you'll see them coming down in their undulating flight," Dave said. 

He took matters into his own hands, quite literally. He has around a dozen chickadees and nuthatches that will swoop down and grab a sunflower seed or two out of his outstretched hand. 

He even knows some by name. 

"Hi, how are you, Charlie?" he said to one. "Well, where's the rest of your friends?"

They weren't far behind. 

"Chickadees will take two seeds, and the nuthatch takes one," Dave said, chuckling when he admitted he doesn't know why. 

He buys hulled sunflower seeds by the 50-pound bag. The birds don't migrate, so they especially appreciate Dave in the winter months. 

"There's no insects," Brislance explained. "So they are eating seeds 100 percent of the time. I'm the walking seed guy. You know, the walking seed feeder."

And he admires what the birds can endure. 

"If you can make it through 20 below zero weather and stay here like those little third-of-an-ounce bird, that's a tough bird," Dave said. 

He understands that some frown on feeding birds, but he said he sees it differently. 

"This is almost like feeding your friends. They're with you all the time," Brislance said, "and you're not near a highway where they can get hit by a car."

The birds don't seem to mind. 

"They're gutty. They're just awesome little birds," Dave said. 


Baihly Warfield

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