Friday, June 28, 2013

First To Fledge - Barn Swallow

Checking up on the youngster. The male Barn Swallow would stop and perch by the youngster, chatter a bit, and then take flight and swoop and dive in the backyard. I happen to love Barn Swallows. They are my spark bird. When I see them, I think back to camp at Camp Stapleton in Port Sanilac, MI.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hummingbird Perch

It's time to get out your hummingbird feeders. These little gems are winging their way to your backyard.

Via Flickr:
This female Ruby Throated hummingbird briefly stops for a quick sip from the feeder.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Magnolia Magnificence

Via Flickr:
The striking plumage of this Magnolia Warbler always stops me in my tracks. Seeing one of these birds is a breathtaking experience knowing they pass through this area every spring and autumn without much notice, unless you happen to be one of the thousands of birders who enjoy the magnificent show called spring migration.

Monday, March 25, 2013

American Woodcock by Steve Gifford

Via Flickr:
*Click HD icon for better resolution*

One of my goals this spring was to find and photograph woodcock during the day. For the last several weeks I have been scouting out the best locations where I can find these elusive birds fairly consistently. Although there are a lot of great areas, one of the best spots I have been able to find is Columbia Mine at Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge near Oakland City, Indiana.

Having previously encountered this particular woodcock on multiple occasions within a relatively small area, I set out this morning to see if I could spot him before he spotted me.

In full camo and moving into the bird's regular territory very slowly I was fortunate enough to see the woodcock take a few steps, bobbing up and down. If it had not moved, I am sure I would have missed it.

By moving very slowly and quietly and trying to avoid eye contact, the bird eventually decided I was not a threat and became comfortable with my presence. Over the next hour and a half I was able to observe the bird resting, preening and forraging from never more than 20ft away.

The most interesting thing to watch was the bird's bobbing motion as it walked (see video). According to Cornell, this motion of pressing each foot into the earth multiple times with each step is intended to make earthworms move and easier to locate. Very cool!

In any case, I was very pleased to be able to witness such a unique and interesting bird go about it's daily routine. God makes neat stuff!

Friday, March 22, 2013

At The Spring Dance

Via Flickr:
The male Sandhill Crane broke out into a bonding mating dance with his mate. She was entertained but was not quite ready to take a bow and return the overture.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ring-necked Pheasants In A Corn Field

Via Flickr:
On my way back from viewing Bald Eagles on Lake Erie, I stopped by a well known location in Superior Twp., MI., to search for Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks. To my sheer delight, I found a flock of Ring-necked Pheasants feeding from waste grain in a corn field. The pheasants were very restless as I watched them from my vehicle. I managed a few shots of them shooting through a thicket of branches and small trees. The photos are really poor, but I have the confirmation I need to add them to my e-Bird checklist. These birds are considered rare for the time of year and season.

I was able to confirm the presence of Lapland Longspurs and plenty of Horned Larks. I wasn't able to confirm the clouds of white birds flying above the fields, were in fact, Snow Buntings. This area was the host to several Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers last winter.

I arrived late to the area, after 4 p.m., so I wasn't shooting in great light to begin with. I enjoyed the solitude of the winter landscape. As I left the area, a brilliant moon was peaking over the horizon and brightening my mood for the 30 mile drive back home.