Breeding Birds

PRWA IDSP 05-29-2016-2349Passerine migration is over for all practical purposes. Birds have taken to their breeding grounds and are getting down to business. Here are some photos from the last couple weekends, starting with the Prothonotary Warbler above, seen at Indiana Dunes State Park.

Yellow Warblers are common summer residents around here. The one on the left above was hanging out at IDSP and the one on the right was the first bird I encountered at the Chicago Portage last Sunday on a late, gloomy morning.

Even with a lot more light going on at the Indiana location, backlighting was a constant challenge. Above, compare an adult male Scarlet Tanager on the left with what was determined to be a first-year male of the same species.

There were several Red-Headed Woodpeckers at IDSP. I don’t see them too often so they were a nice surprise.

Perhaps the most exciting find was the hardest to photograph. Above is a male Acadian Flycatcher, not far from where his mate is sitting on a cleverly positioned nest underneath a leaf.

Two looks at Eastern Wood-Pewees above.

We had two Pileated Woodpeckers, and the one above was in the best light but this species still eludes my camera, monster lens and all.

Cedar Waxwings above, at IDSP on the left and the other one from the Chicago Portage.

The Portage had at least four male Baltimore Orioles, and I was able to spot a female not entirely hidden on the right, above.

To add to my list of not-often-seen woodpeckers, I had a Hairy Woodpecker at the Portage. Usually I see Downies everywhere, but this was the only woodpecker that I was able to photograph.

Tree Swallows were abundant. And below, it was a good day for turtles at the Portage.

And for Mallard ducklings…looking almost full grown.

Below, a newly fledged American Robin and an adult.

One more look at the Red-Headed Woodpecker.

RHWP IDSP 5-29-2016-2453I’ve been busy writing silly songs, working, gardening and starting to get ready for a trip that will begin on July 1. I am now glad I inadvertently planned to be away before the Democratic National Convention. I’m growing weary of the daily drama and it will be good for my head to be totally oblivious to politics for a couple weeks.

I’ll try to get back to this page a few times before I go. Thanks for stopping by!

 

My Cerulean Warbler Quest

I rode with three friends to Hastings, Michigan last Thursday for Michigan Audubon’s  Cerulean Warbler Weekend. The goal was to get good looks at Cerulean Warblers, and we did after several tries.

“Rainstart”

However, Friday’s weather was miserable. The rain was constant and temperature below normal. This shot of an American Redstart leaving was a typical view.

Cerulean Warbler

And here is a typical look at a Cerulean Warbler high up in the canopy. About all you can tell is that Ceruleans are white underneath. Fortunately, the looks would improve the next day when the weather did.

Red-Eyed Vireo

The rain never stopped the Red-eyed Vireos from singing. I stood under this bird’s tree and listened to him sing for a long time. In the background, my brain was playing the Bach I’m learning, and the Vireo’s song fit perfectly over it. I wished I could have played for him, we could have had a great jam session.

“Drowny” Woodpecker

This Downy Woodpecker was pretty well-soaked.

Saturday started out cloudy but when the sun came out around 11:00 a.m., the birds woke up and we started to get our first really good looks at Cerulean Warblers. Unfortunately I had few photo opportunities. The birds like to stay up high in the canopy, and just when you think you’re on them, they fly. Rather than stay in one area, they  move from limb to limb or tree to tree. So my best shots turned out to be extremely backlit.

Cerulean Warbler

But now that I have had great looks, I plan to concentrate more on the photography next time.

This Chestnut-Sided Warbler was backlit too, but he had a bit more color to show.

Sunday morning we got up very early to take a bus tour of some birding hot spots of Barry County. I finally managed to get a few pictures.

Acadian on Nest

This Acadian Flycatcher was on her nest right by the road. Still pretty dark in the woods.

Turkey Vultures

Out in a field later, there were six Turkey Vultures in the sky at one point. Here’s two of them.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebes win my award for This Spring’s Most Cooperative Bird.

Indigo Bunting

This Indigo Bunting was so busy singing, he sat still.

There were a lot more birds than pictures, but that’s okay. We had a good time.

You know you’re on a birding trip when everyone in the bus yells “Dickcissel!” simultaneously.

Dickcissel

We got great looks.

Music isn’t just for the birds

The first day of the Memorial Day weekend was so temperate, I was able to open all the windows. So when the birds and I got around to practicing the prelude to the G Minor English Suite by J.S. Bach, apparently we were audible to creatures with good ears. A dog joined in from across the street, and it was in key with the music. You can hear a little sample right here. The birds had plenty of input too.

Acadian Flycatcher

Defiant in face of the horrible heat of the next two days, I got up early to go birding. On Memorial Day, I went to Montrose Harbor, finally giving in to a birding hot spot on the (sorry) hottest day of the year. It was quite windy as well. While I did not see too many birds. I got a few nice pictures. There were a lot of flycatchers, and the one above turned out to be an Acadian.

Baltimore Oriole

This was the best I could get of a Baltimore Oriole with all the leaf cover.

Cedar Waxwing

Well-shaded, birds sought refuge from the heat in the “Magic Hedge.”

While on the beach, I caught a Northern Rough-Winged Swallow taking a preening break.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow

And although Montrose Beach often has more exotic shorebird species, Memorial Day brought me only good looks at one Kildeer.

Killdeer

He’s still a pretty bird.

Killdeer

I’ll be back sometime next week, hopefully with more pictures from somewhere I’ve never been (don’t you love the mystery?). And yes, the AP now approves this usage of the word “hopefully.” While I have always inwardly cringed, I like to reassure myself with the knowledge that hardly any of the words still used after 300 years have the same meanings today, and I am just as guilty as anyone of going with the flow…