Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sparrow Portraits!

New England Aster

I'm on the prowl for Harris's Sparrow. I birded the prairie parcel for over five hours this morning and found 58 species, but no HASP yet. I think I'll need another blast of cold weather to bring down more zonothricia sparrows to improve my chances. The best time to look is when White-crowned Sparrows appear in high numbers and I've only seen a couple so far. For the moment I'm perfectly content with the variety of birds at the prairie and savanna.

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Superficially similar at a distance, these close-up photographs of Swamp and Lincoln's Sparrows reveal just how different they are in plumage color. As sparrows go, they're both rather small and skulky. The Lincoln's Sparrow was ruffling its feathers in the warming sunlight. Though we had a high temperature today of 82°, the morning began cooler with temps in the upper 40s. The best time to capture portraits is between an hour after sunrise and 9:30am as the birds forage and preen. By 10:00am sparrows are less active. Plus, I like the low sunlight angle for photography.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

At the north end of the oak savanna there's a dense tree line that attracts a wide variety of birds. This morning I found dozens of Cedar Waxwings, Brown Thrasher, a few American Redstarts, a Magnolia Warbler, and this Swainson's Thrush there. For the thrush, I had to change my Nikon 1 V1 to ISO 800 to get a fast enough shutter speed in the low light, but the quality didn't turn out too bad. There wasn't anything I could do about the obstructing branch, but that's authentic nature photography for you!

Swainson's Thrush

American Goldfinch

Chuck, Pam, and I found 28 bird species standing right from the platform at the springs! It seemed like we would find a new bird every minute. First a Nashville Warbler came in, then a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and even my first-of-fall Orange-crowned Warbler popped into view from seemingly out of nowhere. While American Goldfinches and House Finches remained close to the springs after drinking or bathing, many of the other birds left after wetting their whistle or conducting feather maintenance.

Watching birds at the springs.

The glorious prairie.

Pheasant Branch, Dane, US-WI
Sep 27, 2014 6:45 AM - 12:00 PM
58 species

Canada Goose
Ring-necked Pheasant
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Sedge Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Swainson's Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2014 Mike McDowell

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