Mondays Are For The Birds – Red-shouldered Hawks

Monday greetings, human.  Another great day at work instead of taking pictures of birds.  I heard the migratory songbird fallout was quite nice around the St. Louis area today.  Good thing I was at work.  One or two days a week being able to do what I want just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.  I will have a week’s vacation coming up next month, but that seems a long way off.

Anyway, I’m finally getting around to processing some photos of the Red-shouldered Hawk nest I photographed over several weeks this past May.  Here, this little one is showing off one of those innate behaviors.  I’m sure those of you with human babies wish they could do something like this a lot earlier than they do.  Have a great week.

“Red-shouldered Hawk Nest”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/6.3, 1/250 sec
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Mondays Are For The Birds – Red-Eyed Vireo

Hello again.  Today I am starting a new blog series that I am calling “Mondays Are For The Birds” and today’s first spotlight bird is this Red-eyed Vireo.  For anyone fool-hardy enough to do some summer hiking in the deciduous woodlands and forests of the Missouri Ozarks, the Red-eyed Vireo shouldn’t be new to you.  When almost all other songbirds have given up claims to their nesting grounds and quit vocalizing for the season, the REVI is just warming up.  In the middle of a sweltering summer’s day one will still hear the questions this guy’s song seems to ask. “Who are you, who am I, Here I am, Look at me, In this tree!”

This photo was taken recently during the fall migration.  This species along with other vireos and warblers will eat primarily caterpillars and other arthropods during spring migration and throughout the summer breeding season, but in fall will switch to a diet primarily consisting of berries, such as those found on the wild grape.

Thanks for visiting today.  I hope you like the photo and I hope you had the best possible Monday.

“Red-Eyed Vireo”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 800,  f/5.6, 1/250 sec

Sunshine On My Shoulders Makes Me Happy

Hi everyone.  It’s an absolute gorgeous Saturday here in the northern Ozarks.  I hope the weather is to your liking wherever you are reading this.

This post is dedicated to my grandmother, Genny, who is currently recovering from a health crisis.  Sarah and I are so glad you are getting better and we wish you all the best in a speedy recovery.

Today’s post is a result of one of the magical times I spent recently at Ellis Island at Riverlands.  During an evening hike I noticed I was in the middle of a huge mayfly hatch.  There seemed to mayflys in the millions.  This rang the dinner bell for migrating passerines for miles around the confluence!  This was definitely one of the coolest bird experiences ever for me.  The bird pictured below, a Yellow Warbler, was one of near 50 of this species I came across.  Also in huge abundance were Black and White Warblers, Empidonax Flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireo and many others.  Thirteen total warblers, four vireos and a large handful of other species were all gorging on this insect feast.  The swarm, so thick the flies were perching on me, lasted until sunset and unfortunately I had limited opportunities for getting decent lighting for photographs.  That was frustrating, but being able to watch this natural wonder was reward enough.

This is one of those species that I’ll always remember the first time I found.  It was a springtime male perched on a dead branch singing his heart out and touched by the morning sun.  I never truly saw the color yellow until that morning!  The image bellow does that guy no justice.

Enjoy the weekend and remember, in Missouri, dove and teal are in season so hunters will be out there doing their thing.  There are places nature watchers and hunters use in close proximity, so be careful and considerate.

“Sunshine On My Shoulder”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 400,  f/5.6, 1/800 sec

King’s Realm

In the field, the brief views I was fortunate enough to get suggested to me this was a Virginia Rail.  The Virginia is only about half the size of the King and this obvious difference should usually make the identification quite easy.  Unfortunately my brief, distant and mostly obscured view of this bird did not allow me to get a good estimate on the bird’s size.  Once back home with the photo and field guides open I began to doubt my original ID call.  I listed as many reasons to feel KIRA as VIRA.  I quickly realized I needed help and rushed the photo and my thoughts to the three wise men of the birding community I knew would love the challenge.  The single photo was less than the smoking gun I was hoping it was.  All three agreed it was most-likely a King Rail, but there is still room for doubt.  Although a photo of a Virginia Rail would have added a new species to my bird-photo-life-list it always makes me happy to find and watch a bird of conservation concern, as is the King.

You can see in this “bird in habitat” photo just the sort of habitat that rails and other waders need.  Rails love to be in water about up to their knees with plenty of vegetation to use for cover.  Most shorebirds like the mud, while larger waterfowl, obviously like a little more water.  Heron Pond at RMBS is being managed to provide the habitat these groups of birds need.  Check out a few images of young KIRA I took a while ago.

“King Rail”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera,  EF400mm f/5.6L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/5.6, 1/400 sec