This spring has been flying by. With great cool and wet weather, the spring ephemeral wildflower season has been one of the best I’ve experienced and in the past two weeks the bird diversity has been on the rise. Just today, I had a Wood Thrush, a Cooper’s Hawk and a Barn Swallow from my suburban yard alone! This morning I found a Sedge Wren in the grasses at Beckemeier Conservation Area among about half a dozen warblers.
I hope you are getting out to enjoy some of this action and I want to share a few photos of one of my many favorites, this Worm-eating Warbler that is already setting up territory at Bush Wildlife Conservation Area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My quest is to get the perfect Cerulean Warbler shot. These are not it, but getting closer. Better luck next year.
This pair of Blue-grey Gnatcatchers were also photographed this spring at Weldon Spring Conservation Area.
A pair of Louisiana Waterthrush were usually easy to find in a territory that the trail ran through.
This Horned Lark was found back in March at Riverlands.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, this Red-winged Blackbird was captured establishing his territory outside the Audubon Center in early spring.
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.
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.
Mulberries and insects were what was on the menu when I was at the nest tree to watch.
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… 😉
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.
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.
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.
The female is pictured above, inspecting the potential nest sight.
But alas, for whatever reason, the pair decided this wasn’t the spot for them this year. Ah well.