The Goldeneye

6a1a5708
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

Just a few of my favorite Goldeneye shots from RMBS this season.

6a1a6687
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a6575
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a6754
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a6636
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a6824
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a6626
Common Goldeneye, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

Until next time…
-OZB

It’s Swan Season!

Trumpeter Swans - Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO
Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a3601
Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a3610
Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

6a1a3623
Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

Wilson’s Snipe on the Confluence Road

Wilson's Snipe - Scolopacidae - Gallinago delicata - Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.
Wilson’s Snipe – Scolopacidae – Gallinago delicata – Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.

With everyone on Facebook posting their great photos of our Thanksgiving Snipe, I thought I would go ahead and process and share before they got lost and forgotten for months.  The photo above is, in my opinion, the most pleasing way of capturing a shore bird.  The back of most shore birds are often their most colorful and patterned side.  I like to try and capture the from behind with their head turned so to see their eye and the length/shape of their bill.

6a1a3696
Wilson’s Snipe – Scolopacidae – Gallinago delicata – Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.

I did not bring a wider lens on this morning, but I wish that I had.  I counted 17 Snipe within a pretty close distance of each other in a section of sweet and soft mud.

6a1a3703
Nares Deep! Wilson’s Snipe – Scolopacidae – Gallinago delicata – Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.

In the image above one can imagine the depth they can get with those lance-like bills as they probe the mud for invertebrates.  Check out the video below to get an idea of how these guys feed.

-OZB

Coastal Wanderer – The Brown Pelican Visits the Show-Me State

Brown Pelican - 6A1A7149
One of these is not like the other…

Typically found in warmer coastal waters of the Americas, St. Louis birders were in for a treat by the visit of this Brown Pelican that arrived about a month ago.

Brown Pelican - Preening
Brown Pelican – Preening

The bird has been seen consistently and may stick around at RMBS for the rest of the summer.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Unfortunately, these photos were strongly affected by heat wave distortion that was prominant on this clear day.

The Brown Bomber
The Brown Bomber

Thanks for stopping by.
-OZB

 

A Tale of Three White Giants

Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans

Missouri is home to three giant white swan species that can be difficult to distinguish without a bit of training or education.  All three swans belong to the genus Cygnus and rank among the largest waterfowl on the planet.  The first species we will consider is the Trumpeter Swan (C. buccinator).  Ranked as both the largest waterfowl species in the world and the largest flying bird of North America, the Trumpeter Swan is considered a conservation success.  Beginning in the 1600s the birds were collected for their meat, skins and feathers.  This unregulated slaughter lasted until the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which provided the species some protection. Their population rebounded from a level as low as 32 birds documented in 1932 to 15,000 – 20,000 estimated today.  Trumpeter Swans only winter in Missouri, spending their summer nesting season from the upper great plains up to Alaska.  As many as 600 birds have been counted at Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary during a winter season.

Trumpeter Swans
Trumpeter Swans

The Tundra Swan  (C. columbianus) are more widespread across North America compared to its larger relative, the Trumpeter.  And, although they far outnumber the Trumpeter in total population, the Trumpeter is actually the more abundant winter resident in Missouri.  For reasons unknown, this winter we have seen an unusually high number of the comparatively rare Tundra, giving birders something to be excited about.

In single species groups, especially at a distance, the two species can be challenging to tell apart.  However, when seen up close and spaced closely together, the differences are more easily identified.  On average, the Tundra is 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the Trumpeter.  In addition the border of the black color surrounding the bill is different in the two species and the Tundra usually has a yellow spot on the lores, near the base of the bill.  I’ll guide you to your favorite field guide for more specifics.  With this information, can you spot the four Tundras in the image below?

Mix of Swans
Mix of Swans

Here is a closeup of the two species in flight.  Easy to spot the Tundra here.  Right?

Trumpeter : Tundra - 2.1
Trumpeter : Tundra – 2.1

It was such a treat being able to watch a group of Tundras carrying on…

Tundra Swans
Tundra Swans

Finally, our last (and quietest) of Missouri’s Cygnus – the Mute Swan (Color).  The Mute is native to the old world and exists in North America as a naturalized resident.  Still raised and sold on the captive market, the Mute is typically a year-round resident in these parts, moving only to find open water in the dead of winter.  These birds are easily recognized by the large, orange-collored bills, often with a bulge at its base.  I photographed this pair at Binder Lake S.P.

Mute Swans
Mute Swans

There you are, a quick overview of the Missouri’s white giants.

Thanks for the visit.
-OZB

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