Thursday, May 23, 2019

Crops & Clips: I saw a Sora

During our brief stay with our daughter's family in northeastern Illinois, I enjoyed watching the birds from the deck in their back yard. We had visits from local breeding birds and even one species which had not departed for its nesting grounds to the north.

Several White-crowned Sparrows brightened up the surroundings by perching on the fence:

White-crowned Sparrow 01-20190512

White-crowned Sparrow 02-20190512

The presence of black in front of their eyes (lores) and pinkish bills indicate that these belong to the East Tiaga population which breeds in the eastern Canadian tundra. They will soon be departing. One took a perch in a blooming cherry tree:

White-crowned Sparrow 06-20190512

Song Sparrows breed locally and were singing from the fence and nearby spruce trees:

Song Sparrow 03-20190512

Song Sparrow 01-20190512

Other visitors included Eastern Goldfinches. A female was eating the catkins of a birch tree (I learned that people can eat them too):

American Goldfinch female 02-20190509

Male House Finches were in full song...

House Finch 01-20190512

...and visited the freshly stocked feeder...

House Finch 03-20190512

...as did House Sparrows...

House Sparrow male 01-20180512

...and Brown-headed Cowbirds:

Brown-headed Cowbird 01-20190512

The fence also hosted a cooing Mourning Dove...
Mourning Dove 01-20190512

...and a male Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal 02-20190512

Northern Cardinal 01-20190509

American Robins were starting to nest:

American Robin 20190509

A surprise visitor was a Blue-headed Vireo which posed for a few photos as it foraged among the buds and flowers:

Blue-headed Vireo 06-20190509

Blue-headed Vireo 03-20190509

I glanced out the kitchen window and saw that I was not the only one attracted to the yard birds. An immature Cooper's Hawk perched for a moment before plunging into a small bush after an unidentified bird. It was not successful and flew away empty-taloned. My photo is soft because I shot through the window:

Cooper's Hawk immature 02-20190511

Cooper's Hawk immature 01-20190511

My first venture outside was a single-minded search for a Sora in nearby Jones Meadow Park, which I hoped had already returned for the summer. They winter in Florida, but I rarely see them near our home. I succeeded, though my glimpse of one was momentary:

Sora 02-20190510

On a subsequent visit the Sora appeared at closer range but was very shy and elusive:

Sora 01-20190513

Sora 02-20190513

The cool outside air made me feel better. Seeing the Sandhill Cranes (described in my prior post) also lifted my spirits!

Back home in Florida, a rare Seasonal Blue Moon made its appearance on May 19. The more common "Blue Moon" occurs as the second full Moon in a month with two full Moons. This happens about once every two or three years. The Seasonal Blue Moon is the second of three full Moons which appear during one of the four seasons, in this case between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.

The Seasonal Blue Moon descends in the southeastern sky just before sunrise over our local wetlands:

Full Seasonal Blue Moon 2-20190519


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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Crops & Clips: Cranes and fluffy colts

We returned to NE Illinois for the second time this spring. Because of a flight cancellation we missed celebrating our daughter's birthday there, but  MaryLou did take part in our granddaughter's Confirmation ceremony. Although our stay was brief and I was still fighting bronchitis, I made time to visit a few birding patches near our daughter's home.  

While looking for sparrows in the last undeveloped plot 
in the Village of North Aurora, adjacent to Jones Meadow Park, I encountered a pair of Sandhill Cranes with two very young colts. They foraged among the yellow flowers in the pasture:

Sandhill Crane colts 08-20190510

Sandhill Crane with colts 094-20190510

Young cranes are called "colts." The dictionary defines "colt" loosely to include, besides male horses and firearms, as "a young or inexperienced person." Although I could not trace the origin of its application to these birds, it is said to reference their long strong legs.

The colts stayed close to their parents as they moved along. Although the chicks are hatched with their eyes open and are active and capable of foraging on their own, their parents feed them or help them find food for the first week or two. Their diet consists mostly of seeds and other plant material, but they do prey upon insects and small vertebrates when encountered.

I witnessed an adult feeding an unidentified morsel to one of the colts:

Sandhill Crane feeding colts 05-20190510

Sandhill Crane feeding colt 06-20190510

Colts become competitive as they age, and parents are said to tend them separately to discourage fighting, but these little ones seemed to get along very well:

Sandhill Crane colts 02-20190510

Sandhill Crane colt 095-20190510

Working out of my laptop in Illinois, I have fallen behind in processing the photos, so here are a few from Florida during the days between trips.

A Northern Mockingbird persistently attacked a Fish Crow:

Fish Crow and Northern Mockingbird 01-20190506

Fish Crow and Northern Mockingbird 02-20190506

The Pine Bank reflected on still waters before sunrise on May 6:

 Pine Bank at dawn 20190506


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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

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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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Crops & Clips: This week's potpourri

It has been an eventful few days in our neighborhood Wounded Wetlands. Although spring migration has been slow, I added a (heard-only) Chuck-will's-widow to my patch list. A poor recording is my only documentation with no photos to share. It was quite near the trail about 40 minutes before sunrise. As has been the case with the Whip-poor-will, it stopped calling about a half hour before sunup.  

An unusual visitor was this Black-whiskered Vireo. It was only my second sighting at this location, and one of only two recorded in Broward County so far this year. 

I found the first one at almost this exact spot on April 20, 2011. Its namesake throat stripes are distinctive:

Black-whiskered Vireo 20110420 

This time I got much better photos when, for a few seconds, it sat still out in the open after it ate Lantana berries (May 4, 2019):

Black-whiskered Vireo 03-20190504

Black-whiskered Vireo 01-20190504

Black-whiskered Vireo 06-20190504

Black-whiskered Vireos breed in The Bahamas and Caribbean islands, but their US range is generally restricted to a migratory population in coastal mangroves of southern Florida. Their secretive habits make them hard to find as they glean for insects among the leaves. They are closely related to the similar Red-eyed Vireo. In fact, at first I misidentified it as the latter species. Close inspection reveals that, although its eyes have a reddish tint, it has a more massive bill and a duller brownish back:

Black-whiskered Vireo first look 20190504

Here is a Red-eyed Vireo for comparison (October 12, 2018):

Red-eyed Vireo 03-20181012

Two different Bobcats showed up, only two days apart. The first was a small female which stared at me from the high grass on the left side of this trail:

 Berm trail to south 20190506

She jumped out and over the trail just as I raised my camera (May 3):

Bobcat 01- 20190503 

Bobcat 02- 20190503

The other Bobcat was a large male, seen only about 100 yards away from where I saw the female. He walked leisurely across the gravel road (May 5):

Bobcat male 01-20190505

He crouched down for a moment to check me out:

Bobcat male face 05-20190505

Male Bobcats usually occupy much larger territories than females. They seek out and mate with several but do not take part in rearing or defending the young. One of the local females appears to be quite pregnant (April 13, 2019): 

Bobcat-1 04-20190413

We would expect her to avoid contact with the male and take such steps as covering feces and hiding in with her kits in a den. I can tell that a male is around when I find fresh Bobcat scat piles out in the open and close to each other, as this is one way they mark their territory.

A White-winged Dove peered out from the shadows (May 4):

White-winged Dove 01-20190504

Loggerhead Shrikes had disappeared for over two weeks, so I was happy when one posed in early morning sun on May 4:

Loggerhead Shrike 640 ISO160 ExpComp plus 2 thirds  20190504

That same day I saw my first Julia longwing of the spring season. They have been very scarce since Hurricane Irma ravaged the area almost two years ago. This is a fresh male:

Julia heliconian - Dryas iulia 20190504

I had to get down on the ground to get a side view of a tiny but beautiful Dainty Sulphur:

Dainty Sulphur - Nathalis iole 01-20190504

We spent the week after Easter at Tranquility Bay resort on the Florida Keys. These are views from the beach at sunset (April 22-25):

 Tranquility Bay After Sunset 04-20190425

Tranquility Bay After Sunset 03-20190425

Tranquility Bay Sunset 01-20190425

Tranquility Bay sunset 01-20190422

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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

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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