First off, Happy Birthday to Kerby! (by the way, based on strange looks from the Walmart employee last night, apparently all dogs do not get their own birthday cakes)
Initially I was pretty excited about the opportunity to bring you a NEW bird sighting. Over the course of about a week I kept hearing a very unique bird song. It was almost like three distinct sounds that it would alternate through repeatedly. Probably the most fascinating thing about this was how loud it was. I would be out back and still hear the singing coming from the front woods. Three times I ran inside, grabbed The Beast and went looking for the source. Eventually the search would be narrowed down to a couple of trees, but the sound would either stop or there would be a rustle of leaves followed by some non-distinguishable bird launching itself in a different direction. A few minutes later the chatter would start up again a couple hundred feet away. Get close to it again and I’m in another rinse and repeat cycle. As luck would have it, I stepped out of the truck one evening after a run and heard it again. This damn bird was not going to school me again (earlier that day I had failed at another attempt even with Linda help in track it down). Clearly stealth is the key so I grabbed the trusty Nikon and slinked my way over to the woods. It took a some patience, but eventually it was spotted sitting on some high branches.
Hit the jump to see the rest of the pictures!
There the bird sat cycling through it’s various songs one after another just as loud as possible. Following my general strategy, I made sure some shots hit the tin before working to improve the composition. The problem with this is the number of branches that were in the way. The fear was stepping out into an opening would spook it, so most of the shots were taken by shifting back and forth in the woods trying to find the clearest path to the subject – oh, the hardships of wildlife photography (ha!). To be honest, the identity of this particular bird was a mystery. Having learned a valuable lesson in the past, the goal was to get as many angles as possible to make the trek through the guides as easy as possible. This shot gave the best angle for the breast coloring.
As you can see from the next shot, the challenge of the shoot was not so much the branches themselves, but also trying to compensate for the shadows that were being thrown from the low hanging sun. Kind of looks Blade Runner-ish doesn’t it?
It was actually an enjoyable shoot. Having the big glass out I could experience the bird up close and personal. The surprising feature was just how large the mouth was. The big mouth bass of the beak world if you will. With that said, this specimen was not of the woodpecker family. Another noted feature was the cool yellow eyes….
Wait a minute! Yellow eyes, and a long beak… hmmm…and then some disappointment began to emerge. A quick check of some bird books revealed that it was a Brown Thrasher. In case you are having the same deja-vu, head on over here (link) to see my first encounter with this bird. Sorry readers, not a new bird to the blog. The good news is I think the shot quality is better so the shoot was not a waste.
Hey, almost forgot to include some interesting (subjective of course) facts about this noisy bird. They do indeed like to repeat their patterns in a rhythmic manner which is fairly unique among the bird species. There is very little difference between the juveniles and adults, but the lack of deeper coloring at the sides of the breast would almost lend itself to a juvi in this case – according to the reference pictures, there is suppose to be some yellowing on the breast near the wings – not to mention the spotting on the chest is a little faded looking. Looks like it winters in the South so this one is right on track for the migration period (assumed it would come early this year with the warmer temperatures). They tend to be secretive, hiding in the trees until they start their songs after the heat of the day – the bird guides nailed this feature based on my experiences. It is actually in the same family as the Mockingbird. Lastly, the numbers are in decline likely due to loss of habitat, but our friends over in Wikipedia land still list it as “least concern” conversation status – that does not mean you can take your safeties off and work out the kinks in your itchy trigger fingers!
I’ve been spotted and those yellow eyes mean business. Time to make a run for it.