Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sparrow Parade!

"I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism."

― Albert Einstein

White-crowned Sparrow (adult)

While there's an impressive party of White-crowned Sparrows at the prairie right now, there seems to be a dearth of Lincoln's Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows so far this fall. However, we haven't reached the peak of the "Sparrow Parade" just yet. To be sure, thousands of Fox Sparrows and even more Dark-eyed Juncos have yet to reach southern Wisconsin. Perhaps some of the other sparrow species will migrate with them once the northerly winds return.

White-crowned Sparrow (immature)

Obtaining nice portraits of sparrows is relatively easy when there are plenty of cooperative subjects.

Dark-eyed Junco

Field Sparrow

Even a wary Eastern Towhee briefly popped out long enough for me to get a decent picture of it.

Eastern Towhee

But then there's this stinker...

Harris's Sparrow

It seems like whenever I'm around, this particular Harris's Sparrow has a penchant for perching behind twigs when the photographic light is perfect. When lighting is rather lousy, only then does it pop out into the open to forage on the ground. In the photograph below the sun hadn't yet risen above the hill behind me, so I had to set my camera to ISO 1600 to get a fast enough shutter speed, sacrificing detail for a documentation shot. Oh well, it's still an awesome bird to have at the conservancy. Apart from trying to get a good photograph of it, I've enjoyed helping other birders get a glimpse of this gorgeous sparrow.

Harris's Sparrow

Some fall colors...

This evening I found a family of Sandhill Cranes searching for food in a grassy field across the street from my apartment. After observing them for a few minutes, I noticed that whenever one parent foraged with the colt, the other would act as lookout. They switched roles a few times during the twenty or so minutes I was photographing them. Not once did both adults forage at the same time.

Sandhill Crane (parent #1)

Sandhill Crane (parent #2 with colt)

Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Oct 10th & 11th, 2015
55 species

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Sandhill Crane
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren
Sedge Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Waterthrush
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
White-crowned Sparrow
Harris's Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2015 Mike McDowell

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