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Showing posts from February, 2017

Can You See The Greenie?

A few years ago I was walking around the little pond in our neighborhood when I heard an odd "Skeow, skeow, skeow" (click here to listen). Searching in the direction of the sound, I squinted across the pond into a large tree, and began the task of trying to determine what was hiding there. I took random photos of the tree with my iPhone, and hoped I could find the source of the sound once blown up on the computer. Can you spot the mysterious caller?

I never did see this Green Heron until I returned home. I could not believe there was such a little heron!  How cute and funny looking... Jerry and I were determined to see him again, and this time take a better photo. Little did we know that this would be easier said than done.
Greenies lurk around the brushy edges of water, and quietly wait for a fish, frog, or some other tender nibble to swim by. Once they spot prey, they transform into an efficient dinner catching machine! Out snaps a long neck and in a heartbeat it retracts.…

The Sandhill Crane

North America is home to two species of crane; Whooping, and Sandhill. Every year the Sandhill Cranes fly over my home and land in a small farming community about 7 miles away. A few weekends ago there were over 13k! The first year I saw them was with my friend Janet. She and I drove the few miles into the country, and sat in awe at the sight of 8k in a field. We listened to their "Rattles", and watched as they rested, fed, socialized, and practiced their dancing skills.

 I was so overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of this large group, that it wasn't until the following year I could truly appreciate the subtle beauty of them. With amber colored eyes, bright red foreheads, and feathers that run a spectrum of grays, and golds, they are a stunning bird to watch. Graceful and peaceful they routinely "hop" from one field to the next.

Every year people will ask me if the Sandhills are back, and I tell them it is a day today affair. I have found, and been told, th…

The Downy Woodpecker = Two Thumbs Up!

Woodpeckers are always fun to watch. There are 22 different species in North America, and I am lucky enough to have 7 of them visit my backyard. One of my favorite of the 7 is the Downy Woodpecker. The Downy is the smallest woodpecker at roughly 5-6" long. The male and female Downy both look the same except for the male has a little red cap on the back of his head. They have a high-pitched whinny (link below) that is unmistakable, and like all woodpeckers a drum that they use mainly in breeding season to establish territories. Nothing like hearing the drum of a any woodpecker on the roof of your house! Downy Woodpecker Sounds

We have had a female Downy bring her fledglings to our feeders for the past four years, and I am always thrilled to see them. She keeps returning to our humble tree line, because of the availability of good cavity nesting sites as there are quite a few dead and half-dead trees for her to choose from. Several years ago one of her fledglings, a little male, wa…

Quack, Quack!

One of the first birds we all recognize as children is the Mallard Duck. As kids we love to go to a pond and feed bread to the handsome green-headed males, and speckled brown beauty females, and they delight us by actually saying "quack, quack", just like the ducks on Old MacDonald's Farm.
As an adult I have learned to appreciate ducks as more than just a quacking bird. They fly bulky bodies with small triangular wings (next time you see one notice how quickly it has to flap it's wings to stay aloft). They are waterproof, and spend hours preening their feathers in order to maintain this feature. Mallards are dabbling ducks, which means they go butt up in the water to find tender nibbles down below the waters surface.
Mallards, like all ducks, breed in late winter, and the males are dressed to impress in their resplendent breeding plumage. Their iridescent heads gleam in the sun, changing from emerald green to a deep sapphire blue. After breeding season they will mo…

I Adore Those Yellow Lores!

One of the good things about winter in Kentucky is the arrival of the White-throated Sparrow. Like a tiny chicken they scratch through the leaves along the ground looking for a tender nibble or two. They are often found running in flocks with other sparrows and song birds. They are a plump sparrow with a bulkier body, and have very striking facial markings which include distinctive yellow lores. They are one of my favorite "little brown birds", and it is always a pleasure to spot them.
To learn more about this pretty little bird go here: White-throated Sparrow

Two Unicorns!

When I was in 3rd or 4th grade we read Scholastic News in Social Studies class. I was introduced to the several animals who were on the verge of extinction if something was not done immediately to increase their numbers. Manatees, American Bald Eagles, California Condors, Giant Panda, and Whooping Cranes were all discussed in the SN paper. I remember specifically the Whooping Cranes article saying that by the time I was 40 the Whooping Cranes would be extinct. I am 39 now, and spotted my first two "Whoopers" on February 1st. They took my breath away, even though the photos leave much to be desired, they can not begin to describe the way I felt watching them walk up a hill where they took off with 12 of their closest friends, Sandhill Cranes. This was a wonderful experience that I won't soon forget. God Speed, Whoopers! I pray you make it safely to your breeding grounds, that you have lots of crane sexy time, and you make and raise a beautiful baby. 

This post is dedicated…

American Goldfinch - My Spark Bird

 The American Goldfinch was my re-spark bird (spark bird = bird that got you into birding ). I love watching them roller coaster ride through the air, and hearing their sweet, melodic voice.
 Even in the fall when they are pale and drab they are still so beautiful, and always a welcome sight.
 You know it is spring when they start to turn a gleaming gold color. I like to plant sunflowers and zinnias for them to eat. They will perch on the flowers and dig in for a tasty nibble or two. An easy bird to attract to your backyard with black oil sunflower seeds or nijer seed. Either one will do, and you will have these brightly colored gems singing for you, too!

One Tough Titmouse

We wake up all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and then life happens. So it was with this little Tufted Titmouse. He showed up one day looking like the victim of an oil spill / chewing gum plant explosion. He could fly just fine, and was as spunky as any other Titmouse I had ever seen, but boy did he look pitiful. He eventually started to look like normal again, and went about his business as usual.