Sunday, February 23, 2014

Late February Birding

"Walking is far more than mere therapy for a neurotic mind, of course; it's a way to enter the equation, to rejoice in life—my life, the larger life around me. It's a way to lose myself in what I see and hear and feel."

~ Cathy Johnson, Nature Walks


Pheasant Branch Conservancy

The early morning light began to illuminate a woods full of winter birds getting on with matters concerning spring. Here, near the end of February, more and more birds are busy making preparations. The drumming of woodpeckers and birdsong steadily increases with each visit to the conservancy. The accumulation of spring cues is a delightful time of the waning winter season.


Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinals are spreading out and choosing higher perches to broadcast their songs. Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees are singing with greater verve, too. As I stood and listened, I imagined a nearby Great Horned Owl hearing everything I that was. Well, that, and likely much more. But I wondered if the neural wiring of their minds and memory allows them to realize they've heard these songs before. Perhaps they recognize songs as seasonal cues. The late winter songs of birds render perfectly natural reminiscence of past springs for me. Perhaps owls sense or feel something from the songs, too.


Great Horned Owl


Red-bellied Woodpecker

This male Red-bellied Woodpecker was busy excavating. Little bits of wood were sent flying into the air as it alternated between hammering and calling. Perhaps a nearby female will be attracted to his kwirr calls, drumming, and posturing. He looked awfully proud of his creation.





The trail was rather icy and slippery in spots. In addition to making the going a little hazardous, recent thaws and freezes have opened up a few spots along the creek near small falls, rendering fantastic looking ice formations. I've photographed these frozen sculptures in the past. The forces of nature that build them follow the same rules, so they have a similar appearance, but are never exactly the same. I love the way sunlight filters through these bubbly structures.













Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Feb 22, 2014 7:00 AM - 9:00 AM
30 species

Canada Goose
Mallard
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Barred Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
American Robin
European Starling
American Tree 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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