In early spring, we decided to take a day trip a bit northeast of our home in extreme western Colorado. Leaving early in the wee hours of the morning, we always hope to make some wildlife sightings along the way.
Yep, that we did … as we came across a herd of elk crossing a mostly barren landscape, though some snow was still hanging around.
Along the road we also spotted several raptors … including this beautiful red-tailed hawk perched in the tree and nicely exposed.Others were out flying and perching in nearby trees … with skill in their execution I might add.Others soar through the sky, searching their landscape for their next meal. I have been amazed that while many of our raptors are in fact red-tailed hawks, there is quite a variety of other raptors out here as well.Sometimes the best laid out plans don’t actually work out … especially in the winter season. So when we reached a “closed for the winter” sign on a road that we expected open, we knew that we had to alter our path. That of course, usually means something cool is coming up that we were intended to see.
All of this commotion was going on in the trees and upon closer inspection we realized that it was this beautiful song sparrow. Easy to see where they get their name from as their song is so varied and so sweet. Even the mockingbird, which is usually the skilled imitator, cannot imitate their song. Along the river, we spotted small wren-like birds darting up and back along the river’s surface. The fast moving water was quite cold and there was snow and ice along the bank … none of which appeared to bother the dipper.Steadily perched on the boulders in the water, the dipper looks for food consisting of insects, small fish, and fish eggs to dine on. I have to admire its stability in that cold rushing water as it gets splashed about by the action of the waves.It feeds by diving into the water and often swimming with beating wings through the depth of the water. Quite fascinating. This one was doing something totally different though, so we didn’t really know what was going on.When diving or otherwise submerging itself through the water, it has an additional eyelid which it uses. Quite amazing, and even creepy, to see. :-OEventually we watched it as it began to gather up algae and wet mosses and twigs from the bottow of the river and submerged rocks. Yep, it became abundantly clear to us that it was foraging for nesting materials. Now THAT was super cool to watch. Unfortunately when it would take the “building materials” under the nearby bridge so we could not play inspectors to how it was progressing. 😉But for sure the action was repeated over … and over … and over. Yep, as I said, fate has a way to alter our laid out plans and I never question it too much. I just keep my eyes open for the reason. It’s usually there. 🙂Next Up: Let’s take a trip to Northern Colorado
Spring doesn’t officially arrive until March 20th … or so the calendar say. Try telling that in the midst of winter to the birds of Florida. They’re already out and about in the Florida sunshine!Whether it be the beautifully irridescent purple gallinule foraging about in the flowering plants or the yellow-rumped warbler darting in and out of the trees, there’s always something going on. While some of the birding activity involves migratory birds just passing through or here for a brief stay, many of them are residents. Such is the case of the great egret, seen here in full courtship display. That plumage is amazing to witness that’s for sure. Like it placed a foot on a magnetic ball and static electricity resulted … plumage standing up in every conceivable direction.Some birds, such as the double-crested cormorant, while they sport colors that pop out during breeding season, their display is one more in the dance or rhythmic movement. It’s truly hard to miss.One of the more popular birds to observe during this time is the great blue heron. Probably due to its beauty, grace in flight, and dedication they possess and exhibit. Of course, their size makes them an easy target for your eyes as well. Standing high on the tops of the pine trees, this guy prepares for flight in search of more nesting material.After some preliminary flapping, we have lift-off! No other bird in my opinion executes such full extension of its body as the great blue heron.
Before long, it returns with the perfect stick.As it prepares for its landing, I get a topside (or is it backside?) view … love the variety of feathers it possess, each with a role in the perfect landing. 🙂Landing light as a feather at the nest, it greets its mate with the presentation of the chosen stick for the job. She examines it and accepts it from her mate and they together place it in the nest.I think that she liked it! They celebrate their union and their love, as well as their young ones to come soon.Other birds of the rookery are doing the same thing as well, such as the ever-present wood storks.Some birds do it quite quickly, while others seem to use the task time to take a break along the way. Isn’t that just like a man? LOL, sorry guys, couldn’t let that one pass by. This anhinga rests for a moment before it grabs a sprig of pine needles to return with. I just love their breeding colors and plumage as well. Like a skilled make-up artist and hair stylist just paid a visit. 🙂While some birds, even of the same breed are still preparing their nests and choosing their mates, some got an earlier start and are already raising their young. This great blue heron parent returned to the nest, with fish dinner in tow (stored in its throat), to an anxious young one.At first, the young one just makes their “request” (i.e. FEED ME!) known politely. If the parent doesn’t oblige in a timely manner, the young one takes matters in its own hands, or should I say beak! If you look closely, you can see the parent trying to share that fresh catch.As often as I’ve seen this rough feeding routine play out before my eyes, I always wonder if the parents absolutely dread coming back to hte nest to take this kind of abuse! Haha. Sometimes, the parents walk away, almost as if to teach their young a lesson. As you can see, the young one uses that moment to throw an utter temper tantrum … yet learns to use their wings a bit in the process.Of course, nothing sounds as sweet as the flocks of black-bellied whistling ducks as they fly overhead. Love their calling out melody.Next up: Let’s all go to the Everglades!
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