Posts Tagged With: birds

Bison bike ride

Andy and I took a 15 mile ride on rolling roads around the patch yesterday. I could begin to love summer again with temps below 80.

Look who we came across…

In the foreground is a 4" wire fence with a sign posted to the right. Blue letters state that there is no shooting of the animals is allowed. Coming into view, and out of focus, is a large brown bufallo, with a baby following behind her.

Momma stomped out of the woods to greet me at the fence.

A close up shot of the nose of a buffalo against a 4" wire fence.

FEED ME!

I pulled shocks of long grasses and wild flowers and offered them through the fence. She raked them away with her thick, rough tongue. I imagined steam puffing out of her nose; she breathed so heavily Andy could hear her from twenty feet away.

A close up shot of the side of the buffalo's face--the eye has a fly near the tear duct, the horn is sticking up at the center of the frame, and you can see the wiry hair around the ear.

…but do not touch!

I reached in to feel the wiry mat of fur on her forehead. I did not think a creature so big could move so quickly; I scraped the back of my hand against the wire fence in retreat as she reared her head in protest. She rammed against the fence, which bowed but held, her horns thrusting through a warning.

A large brown buffalo stands looking through a wire fence.

Standing ground.

The momma buffalo kept her body between me and the baby. Before long, she grew bored and shuffled the youngster off to join another adult and juvenile buffalo that had kept their distance.

As Andy and I turned the last corner to climb home we heard a high pitched scream and a drone above us. Looking up we saw a young eagle rising into the sun, pursued by a small airplane. I was glad to see the plane eventually veer away from the powerful bird of prey.

Who do you see on your bike rides?

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Families

We recently enjoyed our annual “campout” at Grandpa Andy’s, aka “the patch.” Two of Andy’s four kids had other commitments, so we were short our usual gang. Still, we had nine adults, five kids, and six dogs ripping around over the 4th of July long week-end.

After everyone left, I went on a photo-shoot to take in the quiet. In our front yard. Seems the Brownheaded Cowbird eggs had hatched and were keeping the Eastern Bluebirds very busy. Those cowbirds are pretty tricky, leaving their young for someone else to feed.

I felt like I could sympathize.

A close shot of the hole in a wooden birdhouse, the wood is faded teal colored paint. The beak of a baby brownheaded cow bird is sticking out of the hole. There is a flie on the wood just below and to the left of the hole.

“Where’s dinner?”

An Eastern Bluebird is perched on the top of a wooden birdhouse. The bird has a white belly and a red-orange chest, its head and wings are blue and its eye is black. It is holding some sort of catepiller in its beak.

First course on its way.

The bluebird is now perched on the edge of the hole to the birdhouse, facing toward the hole. Inside the hole are two yellow beaks wide open facing out.

“More, more, we want more!”

The bluebird has its wings spread as it flies to the hole in the birdhouse. It has a grasshopper in its mouth and the baby bird is stretching its neck out with its beak wide open to snatch up the bug.

Second course coming right up.

The bluebird is perched on the edge of the hole again and is sticking the grasshopper down the throat of the baby bird, which is really stretching out to receive it. The baby bird is at least as large as the bluebird, and is scraggly looking, with brown and white markings.

“Okay already! Let me get it in there.”

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unexpected

 

On assignment for the Ogemaw County Voice: Cover the Open House at the West Branch Area Wastewater Treatment Plant.

One advantage to living in a county with less than 22,000 residents is that events tend to be less crowded. I was privileged with a personal tour of the facility by Joe, one of three full-time employees at the plant.

Very impressive.

Especially the “ear-full” of Cedar Waxwings flitting about the dredging tanks. They must have thought it was a water museum.

An alert Cedar Waxwing bird perches on the edge of a water treatment tank at the West Branch Wastewater Treatment plant. A group of these birds were flitting about the tank.

A Cedar Waxwing on alert.

This photo of the previous Cedar Waxwing is of the bird just after taking flight off the edge of the water treatment tank. His bill is wide open and his eyes have a small flying insect in sight. He has some "fluff" clutched in one talon.

Take off! Dinner in sight.

 

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a bird haiku

 

sand pit velodrome

swallows chatter in pursuit

swoop in for feeding

 

A swallow wings in to two baby birds that have their mouths wide open, anticipating breakfast. The babies are sitting at the opening of a hole in the side of a sandy cliff.

Breakfast arriveth.

 

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A thought occurred.

I bought another box of suet cakes. Seems we have hungry hairy woodpeckers nesting nearby.

A male hairy woodpecker hangs from a suet cake that is in a green cage. He is busy pecking at the suet, using his tail feathers to keep his balance.

Chowing down on the suet cake.

I wonder if things aren’t getting a bit too easy around here.

A male hairy woodpecker sits on his belly on a wooden porch ledge, picking up dropped seeds from the suet cake. His feet are splayed like out-riggers.

Sitting like a dork.

 

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Camera. CHECK!

A few weeks back I lamented the lack of my camera. I was leashing up the three dogs for a walk down Brady Road and for half a second I thought about throwing the strap around my neck. Nah, too much to handle with the three of them.

I was more than sorry when we reached the woods/field boundary about a half-mile south. A whoosh of wings startled all of us as four or five turkey vultures lit up from the ditch ahead. We stopped. As my camera-less eye followed the big birds I caught sight of an eagle perched high in a dead tree a few yards from the road.

We four stood and watched in awe, long enough for me to bury myself in regret. The eagle sat and watched us in return. The dogs stood alert, but easy.

Would of, could of, should of. Ah well.

We continued and found the vulture’s breakfast…a decimated deer carcass.

I turned and the eagle finally dropped from his branch, wings spread like a hang-glider. He dropped earthward, and at the last, one flap lifted him toward the sky. A second flap later he caught an updraft and soared. Out of nowhere a kamikaze-crow (less than half his size) flew in from the starboard side, cawing.

Not only did I lament not having my camera, I wished I had attached my 300-500mm lens!

But. Today. I had my camera. And my long lens.

On the way home from an assignment covering the West Branch Classic Road Race, I spotted two eagles enjoying brunch in a farmer’s field. Enjoy….

Two adult eagles in a farmer's field. One appears to be on look-out duty while the other pecks away at an unknown dead critter.

Two eagles in a field. One stands guard while the other chows down.

A large eagle attempts take off with the carcess of something brown, perhaps a ground hog? His winds are fully spread and he is gripping the carcass with his talons. Part of the carcass is still on the ground.

The eagle that was eating bails when I get out of the van to get closer. The sentry attempts take off with the loot, but the dead groundhog (?) is too heavy.

The second eagle settles down to eat. He looks around after each beak-full. The carcass is in front of him; he uses his talons to hold it down while ripping off bites.

The eagle settles. He watches as I position myself in the nearer ditch. I come no further. He decides that eating is worth the risk, peering at me in between ripped-off chunks.

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Blue tenants

After a mild winter, Andy checks the propane level on the pig tank.

A close up of the blue lid of our propane tank in our backyard behind our potting shed. Andy is just visible in the background, walking over.

Something is under the cap.

He calls me over.

“Isn’t the sky the most amazing blue?” I say. “It’s like we’re wearing polarizing lenses over our eyes.”

Shot of a soaring turkey buzzard high in a deep blue sky.

Turkey buzzard looking for lunch.

“Talk about blue,” he responds, and lifts the peeling and somewhat rusty blue lid of the propane tank.

The blue lid of the propane tank is lifted to expose a large bird's nest filled with five blue robin's eggs!

Five new tenants.

Smart momma-robin to build her nest under a roof!

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March 29. March 30.

A chipmunk wrings his front paws in joy in the wooden birdfeeder, cheeks jammed full with seeds.

Fatcheeks in the birdfeeder.

Chippy’s mantra: Gotta fill my cheeks. Gotta fill my cheeks. Gotta fill my cheeks.

What does he know that we don’t?

 

An threatening red-winged blackbird flexes his wings from the wooden birdfeeder, daring any other bird (or creature) to approach.

“Ha, ha, ha–April Fools!” shrieked the red-winged blackbird, who really should have been announcing spring.

 

Crocus buds, only a few inches tall, stretch in the sunshine on March 29. Grasses and Lamb's Ear are in the background.

Come sunshine...

The same crocus buds photographed the next day with about one inch of fresh, wet snow on the ground.

...come snowfall.

Cheery crocuses sing spring, thrifty in their waxy sheathes.

April Fools is for fools.
 

A lone dark-eyed-junco seems to enjoy his private covered porch that is our wooden birdhouse, even though it is snowing like mad.

Snowbird Lodge

“I’m in heaven,” twitters the dark-eyed-junco, with a roof over his head and millet at his feet.

What more could he ask for?

 

A dark-eyed-junco, perched on a snow-covered bird feeder that looks like a bait-house, appears to be speaking with a white-breasted nuthatch, who is hanging on at his feeet.

Front yard feeder, open at 5am.

Mr. Junco says to Mr. Nuthatch, “Look, there’s plenty here for both of us. Just kick away the snow and you’ll find your stinking sunflower seeds. Leave the millet to me.”

 

At the base of the front yard birdfeeder, two dark-eyed-juncos scratch into the earth through the snow, searching for spilt seeds. One looks like he's talking to the other, who looks like he is bowing down to him.

Junco strategies.

General Black-Eyed doesn’t approve of Lieutenant Junco’s scratching technique.

 

A fluffy dark-eyed-junco poses on a snowy wood porch railing, with his head tilted as if to say, "Aren't I pretty?"

Puffy junco.

“What’s all the fuss about?”

 

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Bluejays and Porcupines

Saturday, January 21.

 

It was a day for bouncing bluejays.

And porcupines.

 

At least 20 of the cawking birds enjoyed the sunshine in our tree tops.

 

This was not the first porcupine sighting of the day. Earlier, on a snowshoe hike in the Rifle River Recreation Area the dogs sniffed out a big porcupine holed up in the base of a tree. Luckily, only one barb had to be pulled from the lip of Gauge, a German Shorthair Pointer.

This little guy guarded the ski trail at Ogemaw Hills Pathway in the afternoon. We didn’t have anything to pay as a toll, but he let us pass.

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