Posts Tagged ‘Birds and birding’

I love this photo!  This Swainson’s Thrush seems so happy sitting on its berries.  At the Falls the migrant birds are around and our trees are flowering or fruiting.  I have been doing my best to come up with some nice bird photos in between other river activities like making art.  Most of the warblers are proving to be tough subjects.  The difference between getting a nice image and nothing is a thousandth of a second.  Warblers are very small and constantly moving.  There is a lot of thrush and catbird activity around the sweet mulberries and squabbles are frequent.

These pink and red mulberries will be ripe when they turn dark and black.  That’s when the wildlife particularly go for them.  This is a prolific tree and seems to be on the rise.

This bird atop a willow tree is a bit of a head scratcher for me.  I like that I was able to get such a relatively clear shot among the foliage, but what species of bird is this?  When I first took the photo, I thought I was photographing one of the seasonal vireos.  However, there is a suggestion of light-colored wing bars and perhaps a slightly streaked breast too which is an unusual combination.  That’s what I like about bird watching…it can be challenging even when you think you have a good image.

Wafting through the air were the tiny, cottony seeds of these black willow trees.  Many of these will land upon the sand and germinate.  Only the fittest can thrive in this tortured soil and manage the periodic flooding that helps define this place.

There were birds that I was able to photograph and identify like this pair of Mallard Ducks.  They were away from the river and more than likely have a nest nearby.  This Mourning Dove is showing a little of the iridescence on its neck that comes with the breeding season.  It’s hard to believe now that Audubon’s first drawing of the extinct Passenger Pigeon was made at the Falls of the Ohio.  That is certainly a bird I would have loved to add to my list of living species in the park.

I was able to add a new bird to my list on this trip and it’s an unusual one!  It’s called the Ohio Valley Rail and is usually heard more than it is seen.  It is not typical to run into one during the daylight hours.  So, when I came across this female near the river…I got real excited!

This bird is in transit to the marsh habitats that exist around the lakes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Since the Ohio Valley Rail is believed to travel at night…it is a mystery why this one isn’t sleeping in a secluded spot.  Originally discovered and named within the river valley by early 19th Century naturalists, it would be many years before it’s true northern haunts would be known to science.  The males are slightly smaller but have more developed plumage which they use to their fullest glory when they leap and dance into the air trying to win the favors of a female.  Successful dancers will pair up producing a clutch of two eggs usually in a nest located on the ground and made from cane leaves.  One last image of this rarely seen oddity with the big head and bright red bill.  Bon voyage!

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