Nesting Birds of Missouri – Pine Warbler

Perhaps the most appropriately named warbler, this special bird is said to nest almost exclusively in pine trees and is one of the earliest nesting warblers within it’s range.  These special birds were a thrill for us to find and watch.  Closeup images of the male bird were taken at Big Spring State Park, while the nest was located in a Short-leaf Pine located on a parking lot within Shaw Nature Reserve.

Male Pine Warbler, Big Spring State Park, April 2014
Male Pine Warbler, Big Spring State Park, April 2014

The chicks were adorable and near-helpless, only able to open their gigantic craws at anticipation of a juicy insect meal.

Pine Warbler Chicks, Shaw Nature Reserve, May 2014

During the time Steve and I strained our necks watching the child care from ~50 ft below, we were able to observe that when dad visited the nest he always approached from the side of the nest facing us as seen in the image below.  Mom always visited on the opposite side, affording us poor looks.  It was interesting to observe that both parents approached the nest in a slow and indirect manner, usually starting low in the nest tree or an adjacent neighbor.  They would then hop from branch to branch, often in a spiral up the tree to reach the nest.  I do not remember watching either parent make a direct flight to the nest.

Pine Warbler Father with Chicks, Shaw Nature Reserve, May 2014

I’ll leave you with the Pine Warbler advertisement song and with hopes of seeing them as soon as possible in the next spring.

Male Pine Warbler, Big Spring State Park, April 2014



Mondays are for the Birds – Great-horned Owl Nest

This image was taken of a GHOW nest this year that was located in a park not too far from my house.  The owlets have recently left the nest, but will be dependent on mom until near the end of this summer.  This pair of “Cat-Owls” have used this cavity in this snag for their nest site for at least the past three years.  I will be sharing more images taken from the nest over the next week or so.


“Three Owlets”
Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF500mm f/4.5L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/6.3, 1/160 sec

Mondays are for the Birds – Red-tailed Hawk

Today’s photo is one of the Red-tailed Hawks that make a home in St. Louis’ Carondelet Park.  This is indeed, a wild bird.  Of course Sarah was with me on a Sunday when we arrived here looking to photograph some of the Crossbills that visited us this year.  While keeping my eyes peeled on the hemlocks for the Crossbills, I heard Sarah whisper, “Do yourself a favor and slowly look up”.  I did and found this hawk perched ~15″ from me!  Even once it discovered I was there it did not flush immediately but stayed and looked around a while.

Oh yeah, the MO chapter of The Nature Conservancy has prepared a slide show containing some of my bird photographs along with some pathetic creature.  Please feel free to have a look by clicking: Missouri Birds: Images From Bill Duncan


“Happy Birds!”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF500mm f/4.5L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/5.6, 1/320 sec

“It is delightful to observe the assembling of these feathered people from the woods and reedy isles; herons white as wave tops, or blue as the sky, winnowing the warm air on wide quite wing; pelicans coming with baskets to fill, and the multitude of smaller sailers of the air, swift as swallows, gracefully taking their places at Nature’s family table for their daily bread.  Happy birds!”

-John Muir-

Mondays are for the Birds – White-Crowned Sparrow

Compared to it’s close relative in the Zonotrichia genus, the White-throated Sparrow, the White-crowned Sparrow is a bravado.  These guys, especially the juveniles like the one pictured here, are quite curious and bold.  They will readily fly to the tops of the vegetation they are hiding in to get a better look and are quite responsive to pishing.  I find White-throats to be cowardly in comparison and quite a bit more difficult to get a clear photograph or looks at.  Happy snowy Monday.


“The Unstoppable Coppertop!”

Technical details: Canon EOS 7D camera, EF500mm f/4.5L USM lens, ISO 640,  f/5.6, 1/800 sec