Song of the Dickcissel

A small sparrow like bird that wears a distinct black bow tie and has shiny yellow breast -the Dickcissel is a remarkably gifted singer whose musical notes waft in the summer air over prairies and grasslands!

Although I’ve seen and heard the Dickcissel several times, I was able to get some decent pictures recently while passing through tall grass prairie in central Iowa.  What is remarkable about the Dickcissel is that it tends to mainly breed in the Midwest prairies. But even before the cold wind blows, the Dickcissel has already packed its bags and soared all the way to Venezuela!

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In deep meditation

Hummingbirds are busybodies in constant motion all the time or so it seems, flapping their wings at supersonic speeds of 50 beats/sec on average!  They are absolutely fascinating to watch, flying forwards and backwards with equal ease, and it is quite challenging to capture their stunts on camera!   But even hummingbirds have to rest periodically after expending all that energy.

About ten years ago, I came across this elegant Rufous tailed hummingbird displaying its brilliant colors at the foothills of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica, in blissful meditation!

Rufous tailed hummingbird

Rufous tailed hummingbird, Costa Rica

Roseate Spoonbill -Winning Entry

Roseate spoonbills are an absolute treat to watch -gorgeous in stunning pink, these birds are mostly found in southeastern US.   They are often mistaken for flamingoes, but can be easily recognized by their signature bills which are uniquely shaped and hence the name!   I’ve photographed a few of these birds in the past, but this one turned out to be a winner!  You can see the winning entries at http://www.orangeaudubonfl.org/Audubon-Contest-Winners_2017.htm

 

Narayan.Subra_Roseate Spoonbill Splashing

Against the backdrop of Fall foliage

 

This autumn has been exceedingly pleasant despite the heated rhetoric on both sides that may lead to the winter of our discontent!  I’ve tried to capitalize on this Indian Summer and take in the beauty of the natural landscape.  As the leaves begin to transform and display their rich hues before falling off, the season offers excellent opportunities to photograph the dazzling colors of the foliage and the birds that get ready to migrate to warm weather.  Trying to spot tiny birds such as warblers high up in the branches can be quite challenging but when you do, it is indeed a fulfilling moment.  The Palm Warbler and the White-breasted Nuthatch below were photographed at the Celery Bog in West Lafayette, while the rest were taken at the Audubon Sanctuary in Bent of the River, Southbury, CT.

Palm Warbler ? Fall Plumagae

Palm Warbler

White breasted Nuthatch2

White Breasted Nuthatch

Yellow rumped warbler in CT

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow rumped warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Ruby crowned Kinglet?

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

 

Iridescent Starlings

You might have seen a flock of birds swoop down over a corn field or a meadow and then quickly change patterns and fly chaotically in a zigzag motion.  In fact this peculiar behavior by these birds has been the subject of fascination not just for birdwatchers but for scientists as well, who call it ‘murmuration’.   If you are interested in learning more about scale-free behavioral correlations and how flocks of birds respond rapidly to perturbations, then click here

The European Starling was introduced into North America towards the end of the 19th century.  However within a short time the starlings not only adapted to their new habitat but their population grew exponentially.  About the size of a robin, these black birds have unmistakable spots on their bodies especially during Fall/Winter and have iridescent greenish blue hues.  I happened to notice a flock of Starlings that had taken a break from their acrobatics and were resting on a tree branch.  Here are some pictures taken with Canon T2i, 100-400 mm lens, f/5.6, 1/1000 s, ISO 200 at the Celery Bog in West Lafayette.

European Starling

European Starling

European Starling side adn front pose

 

European starling eyes closed

 

Prey vs Predator

Despite its name, the Yellow-Crowned Night-heron (YCNH) forages during the day as well as night and is found mostly in the coastal regions of the Southeast.   Typically a solitary creature, it loves to feed on crustaceans, with crab delicacy an all time favorite.   I chanced upon this juvenile YCNH that appeared to catch a crab or was it the other way round!  It was hard to distinguish prey from predator as the drama unfolded, until finally…

Prey1

Prey2

Prey3

Prey4

 

Spring at last!

Spring has been playing hide and seek this season and I finally managed to get a glimpse of migratory birds at the Celery Bog…

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

IMG_0980

Northern Waterthrush

swallows

Tree Swallows

Great blue heron

Great Blue Heron

chickadee

Chickadee

spotted sandpiper amongst turtles

Spotted Sandpiper amidst turtles

IMG_1170

Wood Ducks

 

 

Fishing 101

It was dusk and the sun was setting in the horizon when I noticed this Little Blue Heron intently gazing at something.  I wasn’t expecting any action when all of a sudden it spread its wings in its classic pose before striking gold!