Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Late November Birding

Common Loon on Lake Mendota

Check out this cool app showing migration of individual loons that currently have satellite transmitters on them:

Link: Common Loon Migration Study

Location: Pheasant Branch
Observation date: 11/27/10
Number of species: 41

Canada Goose
Tundra Swan
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Common Loon
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

© 2010 Mike McDowell

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Old Owl

Docile in daylight
Fierce hunter during the night
All rodents beware!

Hunter's focus true
Winter flights above snow, ice
Talons leave a branch

Silent wings on air
Creates dancing moon shadows
On the forest floor

Old owl, I see you
Shining spirit of the night
Rest your wings today

© 2010 Mike McDowell

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Color of November

The drumlin oaks are bare. It's been too warm for snow, but November's paintbrush has finally overtaken summer’s colors; most everything on the prairie seems to have been brushed by bronze, including the birds that will spend the winter at Pheasant Branch.

Fox Sparrow

While the majority of Fox Sparrows have moved on, I often find a few of them on the north side of the creek corridor near the small springs during winter – they remain close to the condominiums which have plenty of feeders. American Tree Sparrows are now the most numerous bird in the grasses and edges of the prairie. Fresh from the north, some are still singing fragments of their summer song, but these will eventually be replaced by trilly and diminutive calls. Even on the coldest days in January, they greet the morning sun with their cheerful voices.

American Tree Sparrow

There might be less to see during this particular time of year, but there are opportunities to learn more about general bird behavior. While I encourage people to appreciate and explore nature, I enjoy that fewer people are outside during late fall, winter, and early spring. I find myself in different mental modes; when people stop and ask me what I'm looking at or photographing, I'm more of a teacher, when I'm alone I'm a student, because there are infinite things to know about Nature.

All images © 2010 Mike McDowell

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Legend of Pale Male

This ought to be good...

Pale Male image used with permission.