Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Great-horned Owlet

Not the best shots, but getting just a glimpse of owlets still in their white downy is much tougher than older owlets in their grey downy who are far more curious than newborns. These are all I could muster.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Rooster Pheasant Portrait

I found a cooperative rooster willing to do a brief photo session. Mating season is just about the only time you get lucky with these guys, so I took advantage of his vulnerability as he posed for his close up. The details in this bird are so amazing, I could admire him all day, rooster-willing...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strutting His Stuff

Male Wild Turkeys are polygamous, mating with as many hens as they can. Males display for females by puffing out their feathers, spreading out their tails and dragging their wings. This behavior is most commonly referred to as strutting. Their heads and necks are colored brilliantly with red, blue and white. The color can change with the turkey's mood, with a solid white head and neck (photo below) being the most excited. They use gobbling, drumming/booming and spitting as signs of social dominance, and to attract females. Courtship begins during the months of March and April, which is when turkeys are still flocked together in winter areas. Males may be seen courting in groups, often with the dominant male gobbling, spreading their tail feathers (strutting), drumming/booming and spitting.

This last photo shows the male color-morphing into a very excited white head and neck.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Snipe Hunting: The REAL Snipe and the Joke....

Wilsons Snipe

snipe br lk 2   3-12

The snipe is part of the wader family Scolopacidae. The 15 typical snipes in the genus Gallinago are the closest relatives of the woodcocks.

Snipe search for invertebrates in the mud with a "sewing-machine" action of their long bills. The sensitiveness of the bill, though to some extent noticeable in many sandpipers, is in snipes carried to an extreme by a number of filaments, belonging to the fifth pair of nerves, which run almost to the tip and open immediately under the soft cuticle in a series of cells. They give this portion of the surface of the premaxillaries, when exposed, a honeycomb-like appearance. Thus the bill becomes a most delicate organ of sensation, and by its means the bird, while probing for food, is at once able to distinguish the nature of the objects it encounters, though these are wholly out of sight.

For the truly gullible:

A snipe hunt, a form of wild-goose chase that is also known as a fool's errand, is a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task. The origin of the term is a practical joke where inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the snipe as well as a usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together. Incidentally, the snipe (a family of shorebirds) is difficult to catch for experienced hunters, so much so that the word "sniper" is derived from it to refer to anyone skilled enough to shoot one.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rooster Pheasant Displaying

Getting ready...

The crow...

Wing flapping

wing flapping

Shaking it all off.

Killdeer Getting Their Groove On!

I got an upclose look at the beginning of the mating season a few days ago when I happened across these 2 killdeer sharing an intimate moment. The bad part was running out of memory card for the finale. I hate it when that happens!

Spring has brought about lots of cool mating rituals so hold on folks, there's more to come in the next few weeks! I have lots to share and plenty I expect to capture in the coming days!

I LOVE this time of year!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crayfish with Babies

I crossed the path of about 10 crayfish on my morning hike and discovered every single one of them had babies on board. Every size from 3 inches long to 6 inches all were mothers. How these little guys hang on is a wonder! A fascinating morning...

Reproduction: Males and females, spurred on by messages communicated to each other, join periodically for mating, especially in the spring. Males can be told from females by the generally larger pincers and narrower tails, but these characteristics are not absolute. To tell for sure, you must pick them up and look underneath. Males have two pairs of modified swimmerets (the small leglike appendages under the tail) that are white-tipped and lay between the last pair of walking legs. The females have longer, softer-looking swimmerets (for holding the eggs) and a little white pore centered between the walking legs. Some time after mating the female lays about 200 eggs, which she carries in a mass under her tail.

After several weeks the eggs hatch, and a hoard of minute, perfectly formed, ravenous baby crayfish emerge. At first they continue to ride along under the female's tail, eating tiny waterborne bits of food, but soon they leave this security and head out on their own. During these early days many are eaten by fish, insects, and other crayfish, but some always survive to fulfill their destiny.

(No crayfish was harmed, only gently turned and then turned back.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Great-horned Owl

Not the best photos but a cool sighting none-the-less!

Sandhill Crane

An 83 degree day on March 14th? What a year we have had so far! Spring seems to have started in February as our local Sandhill Cranes made their journey back. This morning I got a close encounter with one returning to its wetland area as I was hiking through. I also had a Timberdoodle this morning which REALLY seals the Springtime deal! Add to that the Meadowlarks, Chorus Frogs & Tree Swallows makes for an excellent morning hike!


(Click on photo to see larger)

A 2nd experience in terms of seeing these elusive woodcocks, but a 1st in finding one on my own, I was thrilled to see this lil guy doing his mating ritual of bobbing and bowing for his lady, but..I never could locate where she was. What a great dance!

The American Woodcock (Scolopax minor), sometimes referred to as the Timberdoodle is a small chunky shorebird species found primarily in the eastern half of North America. Woodcock spend most of their time on the ground in brushy, young-forest habitats, where the birds' brown, black, and gray plumage provides excellent camouflage.
Because of the male Woodcock's unique, beautiful courtship flights, the bird is welcomed as a harbinger of spring in northern areas.