Thursday, May 19, 2022

Spring migration and Flower Moon eclipse

The northward migration of land birds is highly anticipated by birding enthusiasts. I have childhood memories of trees festooned by several species of warblers. Spring migration is shorter and more intense than the southbound fall migration. For many bird species, the plumage of spring migrants is more colorful than in autumn. 

Over the years I have noted a decrease in numbers of migrating birds, a trend which has been documented in many studies.* The overall population of neotropical migrants has decreased, although some species have increased in number, probably due to differences in their adaptation to changes in climate and loss of habitat in breeding and overwintering areas.

Because of nasty weather and also some health issues I have not been able to take full advantage of this season. Nearly all my observations have been confined to the back yard and adjacent wooded areas. My yard list has grown to 58 bird species, of which 25 are neotropical migrants, all but 5 of which I have been able to photograph. 

This past week my sightings have included...

Male Northern Parula:


Rose-breasted Grosbeak, at the feeder...

...and singing from a treetop:

Male Yellow-rumped ("Myrtle") Warbler


Female Black-and-White Warbler:

Red-eyed Vireo:



Male Brown-headed Cowbird, a short-distance migrant:

Yesterday I put up our hummingbird feeder. Only a few seconds after I walked away, a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird landed on it and began feeding. I quickly retrieved my camera and obtained these poor shots through the door window:


My attempts to obtain photos of the total eclipse of the Flower Moon on May 15 kept me up until midnight, but the clouds interfered, allowing me a few poor partially obstructed shots...

...at 11:28 and 11:31 PM...


...and finally, just before the last reflections of sunlight, at 11:38 and 11:40 PM


The trees in the Loveland Preserve which borders us just to the west, have leafed up between May 7...

...and May 17, as storm clouds gathered:

The storm passed overhead rapidly. A few drops began to fall as I snapped this photo from the upstairs patio:

The sky quickly cleared, providing one last look at the sun as it sank behind the distant hills:

Radiating from below the horizon, the sunbeams illuminated the cloud tops:


*REF: Vanishing: More Than 1 In 4 Birds Has Disappeared In The Last 50 Years: Nearly 3 Billion Birds Gone
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Linking to:



Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters

BirdD'Pot

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World
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Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display
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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Kissin' Cardinals

Male and female Northern Cardinals form a strong pair bond and remain together all year long. While divorce does occur, they usually mate for life and seek a new partner only after death of a previous one. Although we have seen several tolerate each other at the feeder during the winter, a single pair now dominates the yard.

The head crest is a striking feature. The male crest is usually fully raised while singing, though this may also signal fear or excitement: 

Female with crest raised:

As breeding season approaches, the pair strengthens their bond by engaging in courtship rituals. Here, both lower their crests as the female begs to be fed and the male complies. These poor photos were taken through a window, but they were too precious to not share:






The range of Northern Cardinals extends over the eastern half of the lower 48 states, into the US-Mexico border area and much of Mexico.  Interestingly, late in the 19th Century, cardinals almost disappeared from part of their original breeding territory in the northeastern US. 

The reason for this retreat is uncertain, whether it was disease or the loss of natural habitat due to rapid urbanization. Cardinals are non-migratory and sometimes suffered massive die-offs during severe winters. Yet, after about 1930, their breeding range began expanding and they repopulated the northeast, very likely because they adapted to the suburban environment and benefitted from the increased popularity of bird feeders. They were breeding in southern Connecticut by 1952 and now are found in Maine and Nova Scotia.

While the bluebirds have occupied the nest box in the side yard, competition for the second box on the back lawn continues:

The House Sparrows stopped adding nesting material after I cleaned out the box twice a day for three days in a row. Now the pair of bluebirds, though not yet building a nest, chase away the Tree Swallows which attempt to enter the box:


The swallows often sit passively on the fence near the nest box. This is nice comparison between the plumage of the female with that of the more colorful male:


The male bluebird keeps watch:

 

Bluebirds often forage on the ground. 

Male American Goldfinches have molted into their bright breeding plumage:

Migrating arrivals included a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher...


...Black-and-White Warbler...

...Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler...

...Gray Catbirds...

...Great Crested Flycatcher...

,,,and a Baltimore Oriole balancing a bit of suet cake on his tongue:

Along Diamond Lake, the trees are putting out leaves:

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Linking to:



Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters

BirdD'Pot

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

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Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display
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Thursday, May 5, 2022

Crops & Clips: Flashback to May, 2019

Each month I enjoy looking back over my archived photos, taken three years previously, to remember how things were then and what I now am missing this month in our new Connecticut  home.  As usual, I search for images which reflect favorite memes: critters of all kinds (especially birds), skies and clouds, reflections, flowers and butterflies, as well as scenes which speak for themselves. 

We spent the first week of May, 2019 in Florida, then 2 weeks visiting our daughter's home in NE Illinois, ending the month back home in Florida. The timing happened to be the ideal way to see the highest counts of spring migrants as they moved north. However, our local Wounded Wetlands yielded only a few banner days.

My first photo of the month was this capture of a White-eyed Vireo. This species breeds all over the eastern half of the US, but retreats in winter to the southernmost states, northern Mexico and the Caribbean islands. In Florida its population is augmented by returning migrants.

White-eyed Vireo on May 3:

The next day, a much less common vireo made its appearance. The breeding range of the Black-whiskered Vireo includes sparse coastal areas of southern Florida, the Bahamas, and most of Cuba. It winters far to the south into central South America.  



The Black-whiskered Vireo below, its throat markings obscured, resembles the Red-eyed Vireo, a much more common migrant:

The Red-eyed Vireos arrive later in Florida and are much more numerous in autumn than during spring migration. I photographed this Red-eyed Vireo, in a strikingly similar pose, on September 11, 2021:

I photographed another vireo species a week later (on May 9) in Batavia, Illinois, the smaller Blue-headed Vireo:

In the Wounded Wetlands on May 5, a male Bobcat sauntered out into the path and then stopped to stare at me:


A White Peacock butterfly  bathed in sunlight:

In Illinois, migration was well underway. Eastern Kingbirds had arrived:

Other migrant songbirds included Baltimore Oriole...

...a male Bobolink...

...Yellow Warbler...

...Nashville Warbler...

...Black-throated Green Warbler...

...and American Redstart:

Mallards in Flight:

A pair of Sandhill Cranes browsed with their two colts in a field festooned with yellow blooms:

The Twin Oaks at Nelson Lake preserve in Batavia, Illinois were beginning to leaf out:

Back home in Florida, the mangoes were ripening:

Along the path, a female Common Nighthawk warned me not to approach its hidden nest or chicks:

Before carefully stepping back, I found its two eggs, laid on bare gravel

Nearly a half mile across the lake, a deer reflected on the calm surface:

I practiced taking flight shots, of Tricolored Heron...

...Red-shouldered Hawk...

...and Mottled Duck:

Out on the Wounded Wetlands, I stirred up a White-tail buck:

A scrawny female Coyote stared at me before running off:

The south shore of the lake at sunrise on May 31:

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Linking to:



Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters

BirdD'Pot

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World
________________________________________________

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