Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Monochromatic Morning

Happy New Year!

After breakfast this morning, I headed out to Pheasant Branch Conservancy for my first 2014 birding excursion. Apart from abundant Northern Cardinals, there was very little color in the woods. Whenever I find the conservancy in this state, I'm more inclined to switch my camera to B&W mode. I think it better represents the wintery mood I feel when I'm there.

This female Great Horned Owl was roosting at her usual spot along the creek corridor. The male was busy with American Crows a couple hundred yards to the east.  The ornery mobbing calls are annoying even to me and I can only imagine what it's like for an owl. If a Great Horned Owl really wanted to, it could easily take out a crow. In fact, a couple of times over the years I discovered a pile of crow feathers beneath Great Horned nest and roost sites. Did the owl do it? Whooo knows!

There are a few spots like this along the creek corridor where there are windows to the water throughout winter. Interesting ice formations often grow where water splashes on rocks. I've actually observed songbirds access the water by hovering or making a diving flight to get a quick drink.

Birds weren't the only active wildlife enduring the cold temperatures for sustanence. Several Eastern Gray Squirrels were busy digging through snow in search for nuts to eat. Temperatures were in the single digits when I started out, but rose to a balmy 12 degrees Fahrenheit by the time I left. I'm perpetually impressed with all the strategies critters employ to stay warm in the bitter cold weather.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Jan 1, 2014 9:15 AM - 12:00 PM
30 species

Canada Goose
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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