Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cedar Waxwings at Lippold Park

Located along the eastern shore of the Fox River in Batavia, Illinois, Lippold Park can be a very productive birding destination. A popular bike path runs along its outer perimeter. When we first visited the park back in 2008 the area was relatively undisturbed and included prairies, woodlands, a marsh and pond. The dirt paths were sometimes muddy and not maintained.

I was disappointed when land was cleared and the area near the entrance was torn up. Over the months an old maintenance shed was demolished and a pavilion was constructed. It included an elevated walkway which provided views of birds at tree-top level. Trails were improved and paved, exotic vegetation removed and butterfly-friendly shrubs were planted. Schoolchildren now attend organized walks and educational programs. The old pond and marshy area are traversed by a new boardwalk which also leads to the river's edge.  


This image was taken last October and shows the curving fenced walkway: 


Lippold Park shelter 20161013


During a break in the rainy weather this past week  Mary Lou and I visited Lippold park. Here are a couple of views of the pond and boardwalk:

Lippold Park boardwalk 01-20170521


Lippold Park boardwalk 02-20170521



In the fall, Purple Finches visited the cones of one of the tall Bald-cypress trees near the river's edge:


Purple Finch 03-20141022

Unlike other conifers, the Bald-cypress trees lose their needles over the winter. Last week they were sprouting fresh green foliage and emerging green cones. 

We were surprised to find a small flock of Cedar Waxwings (
Bombycilla cedrorummoving through the green branches of one of the cedars. At first I thought they were finding insects, but then noticed that they were examining the tiny cones...

Cedar Waxwing checking cyoress buds 2-20170521


...and plucking them!


Cedar Waxwing 05-20170521


Their actions were acrobatic as they gathered cone buds from the tips of the branches:


Cedar Waxwing 04-20170521


Cedar Waxwing eating cyoress buds 20170521


Cedar Waxwing eating cyoress buds 2-20170521


Cedar Waxwings are one of only three members of a family which includes the Bohemian and Japanese Waxwings. The latter is an Asian species and the Bohemian breeds in the far northwestern reaches of Canada into Alaska. 


Cedar Waxwings breed all across the northern tier of the US and in southern Canada. They winter south into all of the US, Mexico and Central America. Northernmost birds probably take the place of others which migrate to the south, but their presence can be quite irregular. In Florida we may see large flocks one winter and none at all for most of the next. 


Back in Florida, a flock of over 50 Cedar Waxwings seemed to have perfectly synchronized wing-beats (February, 2010):



Waxwing Ballet 20100212

Waxwings get their names from distinctive red wax-like tips on the bare ends their secondary flight feathers. Their diet mainly includes berries, fruit and tree buds, but also many insects. Often they may be seen high in the sky, hawking flying insects in flocks along with swallows. Their habit of eating juniper ("cedar") berries during the winter earned the Cedar Waxwings their first names. 


Cedar Waxwing 02-20170521


Cedar Waxwing 03-20170521


Here are two of my favorite images of the species, both taken at Lippold Park, in May, 2009...


Cedar Waxwing 20090502


...and in September, 2011: 



Cedar Waxwing 4-0110905


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

ROY G BIV: Birds of a spectrum

Just after sunrise, a rain shower passed to the north of the lake in our local south Florida wetlands. A rainbow reflected on the  surface of the water:

Rainbow HDR COREL 20150105

The human eye can discern electromagnetic radiation in a rather narrow band of wavelengths of about 390 to 700 nanometers, a frequency of 430-770 THz. The visible colors of the spectrum may be arranged in the order of their frequency, from low to high (wavelengths from long to short). 

Thanks to a profusion of retinal cones, humans can see colors better than most other mammals. However, birds generally see a wider range of colors, snakes are able to detect infrared, and spiders, bees and many other insects (and rats) are sensitive to ultraviolet light. Many flowers attract pollinators with ultraviolet hues.

As a child I learned to recite the colors of the rainbow, from top to bottom (long to short wave) by reciting the mnemonic  "Roy G Biv."

"Another traditional mnemonic device has been to turn the initial letters of seven spectral colors into a sentence. In Britain the most common is "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain." The mnemonic is said to refer to the defeat and death of Richard, Duke of York at the Battle of Wakefield. To avoid reference to this defeat, people from Yorkshire developed the alternative "Rowntrees Of York Gave Best In Value." Alternatively, the biblically inspired "Read Out Your Good Book In Verse," or the more anarchic "Rinse Out Your Granny's Boots In Vinegar," may be used." (Wikipedia

More rainbows--

Partial:

Rainbow 20140812

Rainbow HDR 20160912

Our neighbor Estelle's home is at the end of one:

RainbowEstelle

Full:

Rainbow 2 20151007

Rainbow HDR 5PM 20160613

Fogbow:

Fogbow HDR 20160116

Rainbow effects--

Clouds:

Rainbow effect HDR 20160923

Spider webs:

Silk and dew rainbow 20131224

Web Bow 5-20090107

ROY G BIV Birds--

Red: Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager 04-20170510

Orange: Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole 20150502

Yellow: American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch 01-20170513

Green: Painted Bunting female

Painted Bunting female 5-20151016

Blue: Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird 2-20100617

Indigo: Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting 20120511

Violet: Common Grackle

Common Grackle 02-20170126


YOU TUBE:



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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

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Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

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