Friday, May 21, 2010

Home Migrants

The last two days I've found spring migrants (birds) feeding in my green ash at home. I imagine with the cold temperatures (down to freezing) birds are having a difficult time finding insects to eat. Our ash tree seems to be an is the home for aphid-like is a phenomenon repeated annually. Many times these insects are massed at the base of the tree trunk, a whitish-silver pile. Somehow birds find this single tree and find copious amounts of these bugs on the buds/twigs and lodged in crevices. Can you identify the bird species in the photos below?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waterbirds put on show at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Temperatures starting to warm closer to long-term averages, today low 60's. Shorebirds still a mainstay for wildlife watching as Pond 5 remains drawn down. Digiscoped 3 species today: white-faced ibis, long-billed dowitcher and Wilson's phalarope.

Ibis, along with herons, spoonbills, and storks, form the Order Ciconiiformes in the Class Aves. There are about 119 species worldwide. White-faced ibis are stunning to see with their glossy purple plumage...I can understand why ancient Egyptians worshipped them...for beauty of course :-)
I remember seeing my first Wilson's phalarope, a bird spinning like a top in a shallow wetland in Northern Illinois. It was just as Roger Tory Peterson described in the first field guide I owned. It was empowering!

Dowitchers, well, they are very challenging to identify even in high breeding plumage. Good looks with expensive equipment is usually a necessity. As usual, listening for diagnostic call notes can trump visual features for identification purposes. Today, a single short-billed dowitcher was feeding outside the main group of long-billed dowitcher...identification nailed down when I heard the mellow "tudulu" flight call.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Long-billed Dowitcher @ Lee Metcalf NWR

Shorebirds continue to trickle through on their way to Arctic breeding grounds. Yesterday was no exception as 10 species were detected on Pond 5 of Lee Metcalf NWR (Stevensville). Captured the long-billed dowitcher in action in video below.

On the margin of the shorebird mudflat is our most colorful blackbird...and nothing like a yellow-headed blackbird erupting with its' locomotive-like song.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Marsh Wren @ Lee Metcalf NWR

No FOY (first of year) migrant bird species were detected on the Refuge today. Still, observed some good birds for my month list with long-billed curlew flyby (giving the curlee' call) being a highlight. Was able to film a "gurgling" marsh wren fairly well. I'd like to say these birds are cute, maybe because they aren't seen as easily as heard. Enjoy the short "news reel".

Monday, May 3, 2010

Nashville Warbler Singing on Territory

Was lucky in filming a Nashville warbler while birding the Kim Williams Nature Trail (Missoula) yesterday. This trail is really good for birding (riverine and upland habitat), recreation and aesthetics.

It also good for flowers too!
Here's some shrub blossoms...

and wildflowers (two species of Rockcress...Nuttall's and Elegant)