Woke up this morning and quickly checked if there was snow on the ground – nope, actually a nice sunny day which means the prediction of a blog post from my brother Ron when hell freezes over might have been a bit of an exaggeration on my part. Yep, it’s true, Ron not only clicked the post counter, he delivered a fantastic tutorial on how to identify birds by a sound recording (link here). Trust me, this amateur birder needs every tool I can stuff in the box when it comes to all those similarly feathered specimens. Luckily, today’s featured feathered friend isn’t hard to identify.
Better put a caveat on that statement. When it comes to the prairie states, the Brown Thrasher has little in the way of imposters. Head to the southern tip of Texas and you pick up the Long-Billed (link here) and Curved-Billed (have it, haven’t posted on it yet). Head further west from there and you get into the Crissal’s territory. Slipping into the point of Nevada brings with it LeConte’s and make your way to the west coast and you will have to deal with the California variety (and nobody wants that ha). The Brown on the other hand rules the East with a heavy bill and sternful eyes.
Hit the jump to read more about the yellowy eye encounter.
Continue reading Iowa, Land of the Free and Thrashers
I can only assume things are getting .. if not already been.. crazy wherever you might call home. All the large events have now been canceled (including two of my scheduled races for April), schools have been shuttered, remote work has been instituted where possible and now we officially have our first confirmed case of the Coronavirus in our local area. I’ll spare you the political gamesmanship that is going on at the same time beyond the tidbit my tax evading governor of our broke state is on TV complaining that people are continuing to go outside – the horror, the horror (oh, but he still wants everyone to go out and vote on Tuesday – long live politics). Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Lemons out of lemonade, there’s extra time to devote to the image backlog.
The queue can definitely use the extra attention now that it has been drastically inflated thanks to the discovery of the previously mentioned missing directory. Being that it is currently snowing here in the heart of Illinois, decided to take you on a virtual bird walk. There was a series of shots in the queue taken back in June of 2017 courtesy of a stroll through my favorite local state park – Jubilee College. It happens to be only a mile south of us – our woods and those of my neighbor’s all link to this park. A lot of my free time is spent there either training on hills or enjoying birding hikes on their many trails. This collection is more focused on the bird variety discovered that day than the photographic execution. Sometimes you just need to focus on the joy of being outdoors and experiencing nature leaving the stress of getting the camera and light settings mastered. Sean O’Connell said it best “Sometimes I don’t. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.”
Hit the jump to do a little virtual birding!
Continue reading A Walk in the Park
A Turkey, a Thrasher and a Titmouse walked into a bar. The bar tender goes “Sorry, we don’t server T’s. Okay, okay, not as funny as three men walk into a bar, the fourth one ducked, but I gave it my best shot. Like the last post this one brings you not one, not two but Terree (in my best Monty Python imitation) birds. Unfortunately, unlike last time it is short of images – a measly one per species, weak.
First up is the Wild Turkey. These birds definitely differ from their domesticated brethren in that they can flight. Not very well, but they can go short distances and launch themselves into the trees if need to escape from danger. Typically you will see them hanging out on the ground at the edges of tree lines looking for berries, insects and snails (per Cornell’s dietary information). Cornell also mentions they have made a comeback of sorts and now can be found in every state but Alaska. Likely easier to just go down to the local Walmart and grab one out of the freezer than stalk these quarky birds in the wild. According to Wikipedia they actually got their name from the country Turkey (as a result of Britain bringing us the domesticated version) – did not know that.
I have found them to be very aloof and not wanting to be around humans at all. Whenever we spot them they usually turn and head for the woods almost immediately. The one above is a female that has been hanging out in the woods near a ravine not too far from the house. While we were building our house we discovered a group of Wild Turkeys living there and did our best not to disturb them too much – one had actually laid about 8 to 10 eggs at the time. Soon after they were hatched, the mother took them to another location – our builder mentioned the Tom’s will kill them if they find them. Guessing it has been this female that has been hanging around here each year. This year she was hauling around two offspring! She brought them to the feeders twice but each time she saw me with the camera she gathered them up and high tailed into the woods. Glad to see at least two of them made it to juvi status – maybe those will take up residence next year as well! I was surprised to find that the Wild Turkey hasn’t made it to the Blog yet – chalk up another check mark.
Next up.. the Brown Thrasher. Now this bird has made a showing on the blog. The previous two showings were in my own backyard (link here and here). This new sighting was at Banner Marsh in a Mulberry tree along the side of the road partway to the marsh. While taking pictures of another bird, there was a rustling in the tree behind me. Turning to investigate this Thrasher was staring right at me.
That began a 15 minute battle to try and get a clear shot of that damn bird. Pretty sure it knew I wanted it in the tin so it purposely kept itself partially hidden. jumping form branch to branch as it circled the tree away from me. I’d stop it would stop on the other side of the tree – move left it went right, move right it went left and when I moved into the center of the tree it just went to the top. Extremely frustrating. Kind of feel bad for Linda having to hang out in the car watching me dance around this tree. This is the ONLY shot worth showing from that battle. All in all, not too bad if I say so myself. Again, the journey was more than the destination. Something about these birds make it seem like they are always pissed off (probably because humans keep disturbing them with their big glass). Guessing it is the yellow eye, but not sure on that.
Hit the jump to see the final bird in the set
Continue reading Project Chekov: Turkey, Thrasher and Titmouse
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!
Continue reading Thrashing About in the Woods