A splash of summer

Well, yes it is only March, and winter will be hanging around, but who can resist a splash of summer just a little before it’s time.

A flash of red moving in the canopy lead us to a beautiful Summer Tanager perched overhead. These birds are specialized hunters of bees and wasps. Catching them on the wing and managing to avoid getting stung and removing the stinger by rubbing thier prey on a tree branch prior to confining their meal.

Most of our encounters with the brilliant colored males were looking through dense foliage however once and awhile one managed to land in clear sight and in camera view.

A little splash of summer on a late winters day.

Black on Blue

Black_and_blue

On a crisp and sunny February morning we spent some time watching a group of Crows playing around on an iced over lake. We were unable to tell what they were doing even after half an hour of observation. Could it have been looking for food, either embedded into the ice, or under it? Or were they just admiring their handsome reflections on the ice? Or who knows what. Anyway, it was fun to observe them walking ever so gingerly to avoid slipping around and peering into the ice for a reason we were unable to determine.

American Dipper

An American Dipper getting the big view before taking the plunge into the icy winter water below. American Dippers forage along the rocky river bottoms of rapidly moving streams of western North America. Diving in and out and running along the bottoms of the river at times to feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates. In addition to their fascinating foraging behavior American Dippers have quite a song and really can belt out a wonderful tune making a hike along a rushing stream a full on audio-visual delight.

Reference:

Kingery, H. E. and M. F. Willson (2020). American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.amedip.01

Strutting their stuff

Strutting their stuff

Two male goldeneyes working hard to impress a female in the late afternoon light. These guys will likely only be around here a few more weeks. As spring arrives most of the waterfowl leave my area. Their yearly coming and going gives rhythm to life. Have a great trip north and someday I hope to join you.

White-winged Crossbill

A female White-winged Crossbill rests close to their next meal on a fine winters day. Crossbill and their namesake bills are specialized to feed on conifer seeds. Prying open open the cone scales and then extracting the seeds with their tongues a single Crossbill can consume up to 3,000 seeds per day. Crossbill often travel in large flocks and seek out numerous species of conifer seeds just as they are ready to consume.

Crossbill typically are nomadic and wander across the boreal forests in search of food. Large Flocks containing up to 10,000 individuals have been reported to move through an area in a single day.

A wonderful and specialized bird and one in need of study as climate change descends upon the boreal forests they call home.

Reference:

 Benkman, C. W. (2020). White-winged Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.whwcro.01