Barred Owl in Repose

I had a very fun excursion on a birding field trip hosted by the local Audubon society. There were eight of us, including the leader and co-leader of the outing who were very knowledgeable, enthusiastic individuals. The temperatures that day were as they have been for a while – single digit forecasts with wind chills below zero. I had ordered snow pants to add to my birding in cold weather gear and decided to use this excursion as a field test of whether or not they would keep me warm and dry as we tromped through the snow. I am pleased to say that they worked wonderfully and am very glad that I decided to invest in them.

The highlight of the trip for me was the Barred Owl I spotted sitting silently next to the trunk of the tree. There was a comical couple of minutes while I, the last in our single-file line of marchers in the snow, tried to *silently* get everyone’s attention to look at the owl. Eventually we caught everyone and they got a glimpse of the beautiful bird in what may actually have been it’s nesting cavity. The idea of being able to watch for Barred Owl babies is an exciting one to me, but we will see what happens. The other highlight was a Merlin perched near the parking lot of the nature preserve. Overall the trip was very productive with me adding two new species to my life list – the Barred Owl and the Merlin. Other notable sightings during the trip were several Red-headed Woodpeckers, a very large gaggle of turkeys, and a Great Blue Heron wintering over in a local spring. I was not able to get a very good picture of the Merlin unfortunately because of how dark it was that early in the morning, but here at some of the other pictures I took during the trip.

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Birds, Mosquitos and an Epic Binocular Harness

I took my new binoculars and binocular harness out for their first field test yesterday. I was very much excited to give everything a try and see how it all worked together. As far as birding goes I am still squarely in the “novice” category but I am trying to slowly add to my skills and knowledge of birding.

I am very pleased with my binoculars and how well they do in terms of clarity, ease of use, and color even in low light. The highlight of my trip though was getting to see an Indigo Bunting in person. I have never seen one of those before and it has always been on my list of omg-must-sees. Ironically seeing the bunting was completely by accident. I was trying to focus farther away (thinking that that was where the bird was) and he just happened to come into my field of view as I was scanning the foliage. What an amazing feeling to see him there, in person, and get to hear such a beautiful song. The one bummer of the experience was that I was not able to snap a picture before he flew away.

Overall though the trip was a success. My birding compatriot and I successfully identified the Indigo Bunting, Great Blue Heron, Wild Turkey, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Downy Woodpecker. All of these were new additions to my birding list. I started my list earlier this year when I decided to really try and get better at birding. Right now there really isn’t a whole lot checked off on there, but I am definitely working on changing that.

Here are some pictures from my excursion below. For some reason the bunnies in the area were not scared of hikers and kept posing for pictures which was kind of neat. Also got to snap a few photos of a white-tailed deer that had wandered into the area.

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Einstein’s Long Lost Mutant Offspring

As you have probably noticed (and maybe if you haven’t) I love birds. I am also an avid follower of various livefeeds depicting birds in their natural habitat. Most of these livefeeds are on nest sites where you can view mom, dad and little babies. The Decorah Eagles of course are my favorite and have been the family I have followed the longest. More recently however I have started following several other live feeds, including one for a Great Blue Heron. The livefeed for this nest site is hosted through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell’s Ornithology Lab does a lot of great work with preservation efforts and offers many wonderful services for those interested in birds. I am planning on taking advantage of some of their enrichment options like classes in the near future.

Within a few days of me watching Mama Heron, 4 out of the 5 eggs have hatched producing some of the weirdest? cutest? einstein-iest? baby birds I have ever seen. You have got to check out their ‘hair,’ it is amazing! Mama looks so grand in all of her elegant plumage and it is hard to imagine these little Einsteins growing up to look just like her. I find it amazing how much the feathers on both Mama and babies look like hair. Truly the Great Blue Heron is a majestic bird. I would love to get a chance to photograph one in real life. *crosses fingers*