Yellow in the Meadow

I hope you enjoyed the previous post I affectionately refer to as “Throwback Friday”.  I will not get you back to your regularly scheduled programming which obviously is another BIRD POST (crowd goes wild..or maybe not depending on your interest in those feathered creatures). My brother Ron is partly to blame for the recent bird blitz. He has turned into quite the birder as of late and I know he has a bunch of birds to add to his life list thanks to a quick run to Florida. Unfortunately to a flaw I’m somewhat competitive and don’t want to lose ground on our little competition. To counter the new influx on his front I bring you:

Western Meadowlark in the Tetons

First off, my apologies for how soft these images are. I was sitting in my car .. umm.. I was using my car door as a solid mobile tripod platform while Linda was off taking what turned out to be gorgeous pictures of the Grand Tetons. We were actually at a secret spot she stumbled upon on the Internet that turned out to be quite nice. I’m generally not as interested in landscapes as she is (unless it is statues which I’ll let you know is a tease for an upcoming post). While she is off doing her thing I turn my attention to the surrounding trees, brush and prairie looking for precisely these pots of gold.

estern Meadowlark in the Tetons

Oh, on the soft part.  This bird was sitting a loooong way off even for the Beast.  I think the tele was even on so let’s just say the opportunity to be nice and crispy was slim to none.  However, when it comes to being able to make a check on the bird list, there is no such thing as a too soft shot (just ask Ron about his Yellow-Rumped Warbler hehehe).  All in all, they didn’t come out nearly as bad as expected.

Hit the jump to find out what this bird is .. in case you don’t already recognize it

estern Meadowlark in the Tetons

You are probably wondering when this bird brain is going to reveal what species this is.   Actually I was stalling for time to just do a quick validation in the Stokes reference thanks to my brother pointing out that there are two very similar birds that overlap regions – just wanted to make sure that overlap was in the Midwest and not out where we were.  Confirmed, this is indeed a WESTERN Meadowlark – the Eastern doesn’t go this far West.  These birds are pretty cool and fairly easy to recognize out in the fields thanks to the dominant yellow in their palette.  It would have likely gone unseen without this prominent color since that is what really caught my eye so far out in the field.  For the record, these birds look pretty goofy head on – like one of those mutated Goldfish with the bulging eyes popping out of the top of their head.

estern Meadowlark in the Tetons

How about some interesting facts about this brand new bird to my Life List.  First off, they are part of the Blackbird family which I just learned yesterday is not the same family the Crow comes out of.  Since a kid, always assumed those were one in the same – once again we shall blame the crappy quality of my early education.  Cornell’s bird site claims these birds are more often heard than seen which I find intriguing since as this is the exact opposite of my experience – spotted it but heard no sound.  Some other facts from Cornell.  They build a grass roof over their nests and they don’t tend to breed across the Western and Eastern species although they look identical – something tells me there is a key difference birds can tell immediately – maybe the Eastern variety say “Warsh” or the Western ones tend to carry sidearms.  Males tend to enjoy two mates at a time and they eat using a “gaping” technique.  For the crossword enthusiasts out there it is simply the process of driving their beak into soil, bark etc. and then using their strong muscles to widen the opening to gain access to the nutrients inside.  I’ll accept email thank yous when you use this new knowledge. Lastly, the Western Meadowlark is the second most common State icon second only to… wait for it … the Northern Cardinal.  You would think the Western Meadowlark lobby would be thrust into action being a  mere one state down on the count.

This last shot was left in just to give you a feel for how far this bird was out there – this is the closest I could get with all my reach – the shots above were significantly cropped in.

estern Meadowlark in the Tetons

That’s all folks.  I am just now getting to the Yellowstone shoot from 2013 which means I’m also going to be working on the Florida shoot which happened at nearly the same time.  There is definitely no shortage of fodder for the blog – the hard part will be trying to keep the variety going since these outings produced a ton of bird pictures (think Ron just shuddered at that revelation).

Catch you again real soon!

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