Monday, June 25, 2012
Late June at Pheasant Branch
It was early Sunday morning at Pheasant Branch Conservancy. A pair of Sandhill Cranes ambled through the tall prairie grass and bugled loudly as I came around the corner of the drumlin trail. I was the intruder and accepted the scolding without any indignation and waited for them to cross the trail before continuing on to the top of the hill. They were a beautiful sight!
Purple Prairie Clover
The prairie is in peak bloom. Wildflowers are thriving despite the lack of rain. There's Purple Prairie Clover, Rattlesnake Master, Purple Coneflower, Bergamot, Culver's Root, Black-eyed Susan, Hoary Vervain, Compass Plant, Lead Plant, Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, and more. Chicory may be non-native (though naturalized), but I love the way it accents the other wildflowers of the prairie.
I observed the Yellow-breasted Chats carrying food to their nesting area over the weekend. Hopefully they're not feeding Brown-headed Cowbird chicks. I don't believe that's the case because I'm not hearing cowbird begging calls whenever the chats return with food. The male enters the nesting area from a variety of access points, so I'm not positive on the exact location of the nest.
The male's behavior has been fairly predictable. He'll sing for a few minutes before going off to catch food. He's often gone for several minutes at a time. When he returns he often gives a few calls (see this video) before heading down to the nest. One time I saw the male bring her food. While both birds are pretty skulky, the female is far less gregarious than her mate; I rarely see her outside the nest area. We probably only have a few more weeks with the chats, as they become almost impossible to find by the middle July when they stop vocalizing. Most of the time I hear them first, and then see them; a silent chat is a very stealthy being.
While waiting for the chat, I've been able to get a lot of other bird portraits. Haven taken a few hundred photographs of this Common Yellowthroat, I feel like I've gotten to know him over the course of the past few weeks. He doesn't seem to mind my presence at all.
There are three male Common Yellowthroats within earshot of one another, but they don't seem to have any territorial concerns. Each one has distinctive molt and plumage characteristics that I use to tell them apart.
Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Jun 24, 2012 6:15 AM - 10:15 AM
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
All images © 2012 Mike McDowell