Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring is in the Air

With the warmer weather and some south winds many birds have made their way back north into Indiana over the past couple of days. Last weekend many species of waterfowl migrated back into the state. The migration of waterfowl continued this weekend but some passerines were also on the move.

This weekend I birded many areas on the northern shores of Lake Monroe. The amount of singing birds was also a nice sign of spring. I have been hearing many Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, and Song Sparrows. Today I also heard the boucing ball trill of the Field Sparrow for the first time this spring.

American Robins-There was a large flock of robins at one spot on Lake Monroe. The robin on the left was unusually pale.

This young Red-tailed Hawk kept cruising over the feeding robins. Each time the robins would give their plaintive, high pitched call to warn the flock that he was back.

My first warbler of the year-A Yellow-rumped. This Yellow-rumped was feeding with the robin flock.

I posted a photo of a Hermit Thrush recently that didn't have this many branches in the way-this is the usual view of a Hermit Thrush.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Rio Grande Valley

In about three weeks I will be heading down the Rio Grande Valley with Rob and my Dad for spring break. I've never birded the Valley extensively so there are quite a few birds in the area I have never seen and Rob has never been down there so he will be able to see many new birds.
There have been many rare birds seen down there lately, so who knows, maybe we will see a first US record.

Here are a couple pics I took last time I was down there. Hopefully we will get lots of photo ops this time.

Green Jay by Eric Ripma

Green Jay at Laguna Atascosa NWR.

Greater Roadrunner by Eric Ripma

Greater Roadrunner at Laguna Atascosa

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nutty Birder - Photo Quiz

Participate in our weekly photo quiz by submitting your answer here We will post the correct answer and how we came to that identification on Monday March 1st.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lake Monroe Birding: Bird Photography Weekly

Lake Monroe on a cloudy day.

The Hermit Thrush is the hardiest of all the thrushes. They commonly winter throughout parts of southern Indiana but are much more uncommon in the northern half of the state. I was glad to see that this Hermit Thrush survived the heavy snowfall earlier in the week.

I believe these are Wild Turkey tracks. In the same area I had a flock of about 25 Wild Turkeys.

A Downy Woodpecker making impact.

There was a large flock of juncos that didn't seem to mind my presence at all that were feeding along the shore of the lake.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nutty Birder - Photo Quiz

Participate in our weekly photo quiz by submitting your answer here We will post the correct answer and how we came to that identification on Monday February 22th.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Great Backyard Bird Count Weekend: Bird Photography Weekly

The first three days of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) are almost over. There have been over 30,000 checklists submitted, 3,000,000 individual birds counted, and 531 species identified. There have been 109 species identified in Indiana so far. Texas has reported the most species of any state with 291 species; only two other states even have 200 species.

For more information on the event and how to participate go to:

I took this photo of a Cedar Waxwing while counting birds for the GBBC.

White-throated Sparrow-taken yesterday at Eagle Creek Park
during a count that was sponsored by the Indiana Young Birders Club.
To find out more about the newly formed Indiana Young Birders Club go to:

A Dark-eyed Junco sitting on a small clump of snow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lakefront and Eagle Creek

On Thursday, Ted Meyer and I took a day trip up to the Indiana Lakefront to look for gulls. After the first few stops we were wondering if we would find any gulls at all. Michigan City was completely iced in as were 2 other places that we stopped. Our next stop was in Whiting. While attempting to find the refinery beach, we saw a dark-backed gull fly by close to shore. We quickly got a scope on the bird and identified it as a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

We were finally able to find the warm water outlet at the Whiting Refinery Beach and quickly found many great gulls. Among the numerous Herring Gulls, there were some Great Black-backed Gulls, 6 Glaucous Gulls, and my lifer Iceland Gull!

Toady, Saturday, Eric and I birded at Starling Sanctuary and Eagle Creek Park. While we didn't have anything exceptional, there was a nice diversity of very tame sparrows including at least 3 Fox Sparrows.

At noon, the Indiana Young Birders Club held its first event. We conducted a Great Backyard Bird Count at the Eagle Creek Ornithology Center. We ended with 18 species on the count and had many people come through in the three hours that we were there!

Lapland Longspur along Maloney Road

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

McCormick's Creek State Park in the Winter - Watery Wednesday

The water was still flowing well after the few inches of snow that came down.

This spot is just up the creek from the waterfall but it is a difficult spot to reach. I really like the curve in the creek at this spot.

Check out more great WateryWednesday posts here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday Birding

While listening to the radio on my drive to my birding location today I heard a Colts song. Follow this link to take a listen: The song is called "18 on the Program", it is a Colts version of "American Pie" by Don McLean.

Eastern Bluebird-One of many species that can be found in Yellowwood.

The birding turned out to be quite interesting and a good way to start off Superbowl Sunday. There was lots of activity on the east side of Yellowwood Lake in Yellowwood State Forest. I had my first Red-breasted Nuthatches in the state forest for a couple months and my first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the year. The sapsucker stayed on the same tree for about 15 minutes and chased away every other bird that came into the tree. While watching the sapsucker 5 Pileated Woodpeckers came into the area, luckily for the sapsucker they didn't enter his tree so he didn't have to try to chase them away.

I was also able to see one Winter Wren and hear another along the creek that runs into Yellowwood Lake. I have only had one Winter Wren here all winter so having 2 in one day was exciting. During migration it is possible to see around 5 Winter Wrens in the same area.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Snowy Scene

McCormick's Creek State Park-Spencer, Indiana

As a photographer what more can you ask for than a wet snow that sticks to all of the trees? Even though we only got a few inches here in southern Indiana the woods were very beautiful and we didn't have to deal with being snowed in, like some people that got the brunt of the storm.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Birding at Cool Creek Park - Bird Photography Weekly

Yesterday I decided to go out birding at Cool Creek Park for a couple of hours since we are supposed to get a lot of snow and I do not know when I will be able to get out of the house again! I hiked many of the trails throughout the park but unfortunately there were few birds around. Towards the end of my hike, I finally came upon a small flock that contained a nice mix of species. The most interesting bird in the flock was a Carolina Wren that was incredibly tame and allowed me to get close enough for a few nice photos.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More Upgrades to eBird

If you don't already use ebird check out the following link:

Ebird has recently added a new feature that will be very helpful for all you listers out there. It is called alerts, this new feature will send you a message each time a rare bird shows up that is reported to ebird in the United States. They are also working on another feature that will send a message to you when a bird you do not have on your ebird list is seen in your region.

There is no reason to hold out any longer. By using the program your birding will actually help scientists who study bird trends save birds and their habitats.


Monday, February 1, 2010

A Search for Long-eared Owls

This morning a friend of mine, John Sumner, and I went looking for Long-eared Owls in western Indiana. John is a wildlife photographer and you can see his images at We left Indianapolis at 8am after a quick stop at Starbucks and arrived at Shades State Park before 9. After getting all of our camera equipment ready, we set off into the woods to start our search. We spent the next hour and a half searching every pine tree in the area without any luck at all. We checked multiple trees that the owls typically roost in but they must have been somewhere else today. I did manage find 3 birds that were new for my 2010 Indiana list. They were Golden-crowned Kinglet, Cedar Waxing, and Eastern Towhee

Since we didn't find a Long-eared as planned, we decided to check on a Bald Eagle nest that John has visited many times in the past. When we pulled up, there were 2 eagles sitting on the nest. Before I could get a picture, one of the eagles flew off but luckily the second one stayed put. This nest is huge and according to locals, it has been used every year for at least the past 10. I will definitely be back to check on the nest again!

Bald Eagle on its nest in Parke County, IN

Nutty Birder - Photo Quiz

Participate in our weekly photo quiz by submitting your answer here We will post the correct answer and how we came to that identification on Monday February 8th.