Another Grafton Eastern Screech Owl

A gray morph Eastern Screech Owl examines its surroundings from the entrance to its roost tree.

This year it looks like the popular roosting tree at the Grafton, IL Visitor’s Center is playing host to this gray morph Eastern Screech Owl. I have photographed red morph individuals in previous years that were using this same cavity. You can find a few photos of those here and here. There have been reports of brown or “chocolate” morphs being found here or in another nearby location over the past couple of years, but as of yet, I have not been able to photograph that color morph.

My friend Dave and I made this visit and were fortunate to find this bird somewhat active. For a Screech Owl in the daytime, this is fortunate indeed. By “active” I simply mean it would move in and out of its tree cavity and open its eyes to have a look around once in a while.

An Eastern Screech Owl giving us a lookover.

We were told by a local constable that the name they have given the bird was “Winky,” which I find to be pretty apt for an owl. One thing we noticed during this visit is that the unobstructed viewing lanes are becoming harder to find due to the encroachment of the bush honeysuckle growth. Dave and I could only find two lanes that worked well for photography purposes. If I can confirm they do not use this cavity in the summer, I would like to return to do a little landscaping.

While we waited for the owl to return from its hiding inside the tree, we had a nice opportunity to photograph a Pileated Woodpecker that had flown in to forage among the dogwood berries.

Pileated Woodpecker eating a dogwood (Cornus sp.) berry.

Thanks for the visit and take care.
-OZB

White-eyed Vireo Nest – Part One

May seems such a long time ago. I don’t know how I get so behind on photo processing, but, better late than never. Here is the first of what will probably be three videos with stills of the White-eyed Vireo nest found by Miguel Acosta at Weldon Spring C.A. this past spring. I hope you like it.

-OZB

A few nesting Missouri birds from 2020

As usual, I am woefully behind on processing images this year, probably worse than usual actually. I’ve also not put much work into birds this year, a general trend over the past few years. Too much I’m interested in and not enough time. Anyway, here is some avian miscellany from 2020 so far.

Cerulean Warbler photographed at Weldon Spring C.A.

My quest is to get the perfect Cerulean Warbler shot. These are not it, but getting closer. Better luck next year.

Cerulean Warbler photographed at Weldon Spring C.A.
Cerulean Warbler photographed at Weldon Spring C.A.

This pair of Blue-grey Gnatcatchers were also photographed this spring at Weldon Spring Conservation Area.

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (female), Weldon Springs CA
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (male), Weldon Springs CA

A pair of Louisiana Waterthrush were usually easy to find in a territory that the trail ran through.

Louisiana Waterthrush, Weldon Springs C.A.

This Horned Lark was found back in March at Riverlands.

Horned Lark, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Horned Lark, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary

I was happy to fins this Hairy Woodpecker nest this past spring, but, unfortunately, the parents never got used to my presence so I didn’t spend much time here.

Hairy Woodpecker bringing food to nest, Beckemeier Conservation Area

Back in April, Casey and I visited a hotspot for the small population of Swainson’s Hawks in Greene County. These hawks are rare in Missouri and nesting pairs are limited to the southwestern portion of the state.

Swainson’s Hawk

While waiting for more interesting subjects, Killdeer can sometimes get close enough to make it worthwhile. This one was strutting in some pretty good light.

Killdeer, RMBS

Finally, this Red-winged Blackbird was captured establishing his territory outside the Audubon Center in early spring.

Red-winged Blackbird, RMBS

-OZB

Bird #275

Eastern Screech Owl - Strigidae - Megascops asio, Grafton IL
Eastern Screech Owl – Strigidae – Megascops asio – Grafton IL

The 275th bird species I have photographed in Missouri and contiguous states turned out to be a special one.  This Eastern Screech Owl is definitely the current most famous bird in the bi-state area.  Many thanks to Miguel Acosta for the information.  A long time coming.

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Eastern Screech Owl – Strigidae – Megascops asio – Grafton IL

-OZB

Nesting Birds of Missouri – Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker - Picidae - Melanerpes carolinus. Wild Acres Park, Overland MO.
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Picidae – Melanerpes carolinus. Wild Acres Park, Overland MO.

Today I watched as park workers cut down this tree at Wild Acres Park in Overland, MO, a municipality in St. Louis County.  I estimate they have removed nearly 75% of all standing dead trees in this park during the last six months.  This tree, that provided shelter and food to a number of Woodpeckers, the tree I watched and photographed an Olive-sided Flycatcher this past spring, two dead oaks that I watched Great-horned Owls display and duet in numerous times over the past 6+ years, a tree that provided a place for a nesting Great-horned Owl, dead snags near the pond that provided perches to herons and wood ducks that were stopping to rest on their way to somewhere more worthy.  Even if the trees must come down due to “safety”, I wish that they would see the benefit that these trees can bring while decomposing in a forest.  Lately, they are even hauling away the carcasses.

The original plans for the park when first established seem to suggest that the park was conceived to provide wildlife with an oasis amidst a suburban desert as much as it was to be a benefit to the humans with similar desires.  I find little evidence in recent years that the park management has goals to this effect.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker – Picidae – Melanerpes carolinus. Wild Acres Park, Overland MO.

Mulberries and insects were what was on the menu when I was at the nest tree to watch.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker – Picidae – Melanerpes carolinus. Wild Acres Park, Overland MO.

As seems to be pretty typical of species that provide bi-parental care, the ratio of female to male visits seemed to be ~ 3:1… 😉

red-bellied-woodpecker-picidae-melanerpes-carolinus-520a2663
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Picidae – Melanerpes carolinus. Wild Acres Park, Overland MO.

I’m not sure what the next couple of years might show me in the park.  It sure looks as though there will be fewer resources for feathered friends.

red-bellied-woodpecker-picidae-melanerpes-carolinus-520a1750
Red-bellied Woodpecker – Picidae – Melanerpes carolinus. Wild Acres Park, Overland MO.

-OZB

The Grassland’s Cutie – Bell’s Vireo – Again

Bell's Vireo - Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Missouri
Bell’s Vireo – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Missouri

I have featured Bell’s Vireo on this site before, but it is one of my favorites and I never get tired of hunting, watching and photographing this grassland cutie.

Bell's Vireo - Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Missouri
Bell’s Vireo – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Missouri

Bell's Vireo - 6A1A1234
Bell’s Vireo – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Missouri

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

The Goldfinch have really taken a liking to the Silphium in my garden this year.  Every time I’m out there I observe at least a couple picking the seeds.  The two images of this post show them with their more famous plant source, the thistle, taken this summer at RMBS.

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

-OZB

Nesting Birds of Missouri – Northern Flicker

Northern Flickr - Male
Northern Flicker – Male

Earlier this spring I watched with anticipation as a pair of Flickers inspected a potential nest cavity in a wood lot where I work.  I watched over several mornings as they came and went and made a ruckus.  Here, the male admires the view from the front door.

Northern Flicker - Female
Northern Flicker – Female

The female is pictured above, inspecting the potential nest sight.

No Thanks!
No Thanks!

But alas, for whatever reason, the pair decided this wasn’t the spot for them this year.  Ah well.

-OZB

 

Killdeer Nest

Killdeer on Nest
Killdeer on Nest

Sarah and I found this girl on her eggs this spring at Clarence Cannon NWR.  According to Harrison (Peterson Field Guides – Eastern Birds’ Nests), the male of the species will “make various scrapes in the ground” and one is chosen by the female to deposit and incubate her eggs.  As most of us familiar with the bird know, the Killdeer will usually nest far from water and often within human disturbed habitat.  This girl’s nest was along the side of a gravel road within the refuge.

Killdeer! Killdeer! Killdeer!
Killdeer! Killdeer! Killdeer!