Saturday, January 31, 2009
I watched the as the reports out of Indiana and Ohio crept southward. About one week ago, they were reported at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis. I knew it wouldn’t be long until they were sighted in the Cincinnati area. On Thursday, they were reported for the first time at Spring Grove Cemetery. They were reported again on Friday and I decided that Saturday was the day for me to drive over and check it out. This is the first time I have ever birded here but it will not be my last. It is a very large and heavily wooded area with tons of birding potential. As I drove slowly through the cemetery, I kept the windows down and listened for their call.
After just 3 minutes, I heard the crossbills over head. We pulled over and got out of the car and watched them fly over our heads into some pine trees a few hundred yards from out car. After tromping through the snow, we came upon the pine trees that were loaded with crossbills. Most were staying well hidden deep in the pines but every once in a one would perch out in the open providing great views for all. While watching the crossbills, we also observed a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker fly into the pines.
As we worked our way around the pines, we found ourselves within 20 feet of 10 crossbills feeding low in a pine tree. It was awesome to watch as they tore pine cones off the tree and proceeded to carefully pick the cones apart while holding them steady with their feet. After just 2 minutes and with no apparent reason, they took flight and we lost track of them as they flew deeper into the cemetery.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
- The Hooded Merganser is the only merganser that lives exclusively in North America
- Sometimes, more than one female with lay eggs in the same nest.
- Hooded Mergansers have a third eyelid called the nictating membrane, that is clear and protects the eye while looking for food underwater.
- Hooded Mergansers are very awkward on land due to their legs being set so far back on their bodies.
- Hooded Mergansers are the smallest merganser in North America.
- When scared, the Least Bittern freezes in place and sometimes sways to mick the reeds that it is hiding in.
- Least Bitterns can feed in areas that are to deep for other waders because they can straddle the reeds while feeding.
- There are five subspecies of Least Bittern.
- Both parents feed the young by regurgitating food.
- Least Bitterns often have two broods each breeding season.
On Saturday I decided to visit a new location about 50 minutes away, Cataract Falls State Recreation Area. The waterfalls on this property are very impressive and are the largest by volume of water in all of Indiana. As soon as the sun came up over a 100 vultures started soaring indicating that there is a vulture roost in the area. Most were Turkey Vultures but a few Black Vultures were in the mix as well. Many Golden-crowned Kinglets and one Sharp-shinned Hawk were also in the area. For a photographer/birder you can't ask for a better location. There is a big pine stand in the middle of the deciduous forest that surrounds the river and falls which creates great habitat for birds throughout the year.
This falls is the same as the falls in picture 1. On the other side of this falls you can walk on ice behind the falls and look out from behind the falls. I liked this shot because it conveys the low temperatures in Indiana (about 15° F on this morning).
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
- The western population of Painted Buntings are one of the only songbirds that molt on their wintering grounds.
- Males are very territorial and thier fights sometimes result in thier competitor being killed.
- The eastern population of painted Buntings is declining due to loss of habitat.
- A group of Painted Buntings is known as a "mural" or "pallate" of buntings.
- Male Painted Buntings are said to be the most beautiful bird in the United States.
- Male Snow Buntings arrive on thier breeding grounds in early April when it is still very cold in the Arctic and establish a territory 4 to 6 weeks before females arrive.
- Females must stay on the nest for nearly the whole incubations period. The male bring food to the nest so that the female does not have to leave the nest to feed.
- Snow Buntings only go through one molt per year. They rub thier feathers against the snow to break off the dark feather tips.
- The only passerine to winter farther north than the Snow Bunting is the Common Raven.
- A group of Snow Buntings is called a "drift."
On Sunday I along with my brother, Rob and his wife, Stephanie, birded closer to home at Eagle Creek Park in central Indiana. Our highlight at the park was a Red-breasted Nuthatch while we were searching the pines for crossbills. We then headed over to some agricultural fields were I have seen flocks of Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings. We weren't dissapointed we had 100+ Snow Buntings, 300+ Horned Larks, and 25+ Lapland Longspurs, with great scope views of each species. We then made a quick trip to Holiday Park to look for crossbills. No crossbills but we did get a Pine Siskin.
On Monday I made a trip to Goose Pond FWA and some surrounding areas. With the recent freezing temps much of the area including almost all the water at Hawthorn Mines was frozen. On one small open area I was able to find a couple Greater White-fronted Geese, Tundra Swan, and a few species of ducks. At Goose Pond the sparrow numbers were very good with 200+ American Tree Sparrows.
Any day that I am able to get a life bird or a state bird in Indiana is very good. This weekend I was lucky enough to get Varied Thrush (lifer), and Spotted Towhee (state bird).
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Click on the pictures to view a larger size.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
- The Ross's Gull often feeds on mudflats like shorebirds.
- Although normally only found in the high Artic, there is a small breeding population in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.
- Adults have a pink wash on thier underparts.
- The Ross's Gull's wintering range is unknown.
- Ross's Gulls nest in loose colonies and lay 1-3 eggs that are incubated by both parents.
- The Long-tailed Jaeger is the smallest jaeger.
- The Long-tailed Jaeger has 5-10" central tail feathers extend beyond the end of the tail during the breeding season.
- The Long-tailed Jaeger is the most abundant and widespread jaeger in the Artic.
- Lemmings are the main source of food for Long-tailed Jaegers.
- Long-tailed Jaegers are more likely to catch thier own food during migration than are larger Jaeger species that steal thier food from gulls and terns.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
A photo looking up through a hollow tree. There are many other interesting aspects to Fall Creek Gorge other than the "potholes".
A view looking up the "potholes" section of the creek.
This is another view looking up the "potholes" but from farther up the creek.