Thursday, July 9, 2015


In late June we returned from our rail trip through the Canadian Rockies to our second home in Illinois. I am still poring over more than 1000 photos I took on that trip, and intend to share them in the next few posts. Occupied with so many family events and then the July 4 weekend activities I almost missed my (self-imposed) deadline of writing something here at least once weekly.

Most of the local birds are now busy raising families. Nearly every Common Yelllowthroat I saw at Nelson Lake/Dick Young Marsh Forest Preserve in Batavia was carrying food to nestlings or fledglings:

Common Yellowthroat 20150629

Young birds in fresh plumage were abundant, including this Eastern Phoebe with buffy wing bars which help distinguish it from an adult...

Eastern Phoebe juvenile 20150629

...and this fledgling Baltimore Oriole high in a treetop which posed an identification challenge until its parent showed up to feed it:

Song Sparrows were even more abundant than the yellowthroats:

At first glance a male Bobolink perched upright in the distance might pass for just another blackbird:

However a minor change in its position reveals its striking plumage pattern. This one posed nicely on Queen Anne's Lace...

  ...and flew off, revealing its unusually long toes:

Most birds have dark upper parts and are lighter underneath, which is thought to help them blend in with their surroundings, but a Bobolink reverses this tradition:

  The female Bobolink wears a more somber coat, looking somewhat like a sparrow:

Fledglings of both sexes resemble females, but have clear breasts and usually exhibit a tell-tale yellow gape:

  A male Bobolink feeds its youngster:

Red-winged Blackbirds were abundant. The males were busy announcing their presence:

Female Red-winged Blackbirds are less conspicuous, probably more engaged in the care of their offspring:

This fledgling Brown-headed Cowbird was being cared for by one of the Red-wings. It flew weakly up to the roof of a picnic shelter:

I was surprised to find a sizable flock of Cedar Waxwings out on the prairie. They seemed to be foraging on the fruit of sapling Mulberry trees:

Note the namesake waxy bulges on the tips of its secondary flight feathers:

At nearby Lippold Park, on the east bank of the Fox River, a White-breasted Nuthatch flared its tail feathers just as I pressed the shutter, providing an unusual display:

American Goldfinches have not yet started to breed. They are waiting for the thistles to go to seed:

In another two or three weeks the down and seed of thistles will provide nesting material and a major food source. One of the few of our songbirds that does not feed insects to its nestlings, the goldfinch secretes a protein-rich "milk" from the lining of its crop:

Bright orange Butterfly Weed, in the milkweed family, provides nectar and is a host plant for Monarch Butterflies:

Common Milkweed bloomed profusely. Its seeds and fibers will also prove useful to the goldfinches:

A Great Egret fished in a quiet bend of the river, casting a weak REFLECTION:

A Great Blue Heron lofted into flight:

One of my favorite species is the Scarlet Tanager:

An Eastern Cottontail rabbit munched on the fresh forbs:

A male Eastern Pondhawk was a nice subject for this week's MACRO:

This is a Question Mark, named for the subtle punctuation mark on its under-wings:

For my FENCE shot, I reached into my treasure trove of photos from the Canada rail trip. This is the tram terminal at the top of Sulphur Mountain just outside Banff, Alberta:

The mountaintop provided a great view of the mountains and SKY to the west:

I also rendered this photo in black and white. I cannot decide which one I like best:

Because of a glitch due to a change in FLICKR html code, my photos caused some readers to have difficulty downloading this post, and until the problem is fixed you will be unable to click on the photos to see larger sizes and related images. To access this feature, please visit my FLICKR Photostream at this link, or view it as a slide show in the box at the top of the right sidebar of this post. Sorry for the inconvenience.

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =
Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura

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


  1. Hello Ken, gorgeous shots of all the birds. I love the Bobolinks. Love shots of the scenic mountain views! Beautiful post. Have a happy day!

  2. Great post of beautiful photos.

  3. HI Kenneth A magnificent array of images as usual. My heart sings when I see them. Firstly I like the colloured image near Banff. I wonder if that Question Mark butterfly the same as our Comma? Sweet litle bunnies and all the floers are very pretty. The Waxwings are such beautiful birds as weel as the Red Tangager and Male American Goldfinches. That must have been a fantastic train journey on your way home to Illinois

  4. @Margaret-- We do have a very similar species called the Comma. Naturally, it has a "comma" mark under its wing. The "question mark" looks more like the letter "C" with a period next to it.

  5. That tram....whoa. A bit frightening for me!!
    And LOVED the bobolink male feeding its young.

  6. loved the shots all the way through. haven't seen a bobolink since i left wis over 30 years ago. thanks for sharing them and all of your views.

  7. Such an abundance of birds here today. All your shots were just wonderful. I love the Waxwings, The Red Tanger, and the Bobolinks. - Also seeing the bunny and dragonfly and butterfly. - That tram looks pretty cool and what a great view.

  8. A whole lot of loveliness in this post......

  9. An absolutely stunning collection of photos. I too love the Waxwings.

  10. Beautiful series of shots, love the Heron too-stunning!

  11. Love your bird pics, well, really ALL the pics.

    Cedar Waxwings are so striking.

  12. I defenitly prefer the photo in colour, with its beautiful palette of blue tones in the sky and mountains. Magnificent!!
    Greetings, Hilde

  13. Hi Ken. Thanks for sharing a fabulous collection of birds ... most of our species are now in hiding so the lens has to turn to other creatures, mainly butterflies at the moment.

  14. What a lovely delight those photos are, really wonderful.

  15. Love all the beautiful birds in this post. I'm afraid of heights, so the cable cars look pretty scary, but the views are just fantastic.

  16. Love all the beautiful birds in this post. I'm afraid of heights, so the cable cars look pretty scary, but the views are just fantastic.

  17. Beautiful collection of photos! I really like the waxwing shots and the beautiful mountain shots.

  18. Great set of shots - the difference between the adult and young of some species is remarkable really - and not conducive to IDing them either.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. all photos are tremendous...What a beautiful creature is the Egret fished in a quiet bend of the river..really amazing reflection....

  20. Excellent and beautiful photography ~ favorite is the bunny rabbit or hare ~

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  21. Superb group of photos - I love them all, but especially your Bobolinks!

  22. Such a fantastic series of photos. Can't believe that I was also at the top of Sulpher mountain just a month ago. Great captures of the gondola.

  23. sweet goldfinch....lovely photos all of them!

  24. I wonder whether birds do live our way of live.

  25. Hi Ken, just stopping back to say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

  26. you have a lot of work ahead of you. So many gorgeous birds and critters. And scenery :)

  27. Oh wow, you captured so many beautiful shots here, love all the birds..

  28. Scarlet Tanager is another bird I don't think I've had the pleasure of seeing.

  29. "Rosyfinch Ramblings" has been included in our A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that we hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

  30. I enjoyed my visit with you the 2nd time around. In fact, I noticed how luck/fate laid in store for you through your lens as the tail feathers were flared as you pressed the shutter button. Excellent....Simply wonderful array of great birding!!!

  31. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Wow! I can't wait to see more! That mountain shot near the end of this series is incredible! I also loved the birds, especially the bobolinks and the cedar waxwings!

  32. All these beautiful birds! Such amazing photos! Wonderful!

  33. Such wonderful impressions and so many beautiful, beautiful pictures of all these enchanting wonders!!!


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