Thursday, June 25, 2009

belated spring observations!

One of the exciting things about spring, is being able to watch the natural landscape around you change. Through my job I bounce around a lot during spring migration, but it seems no matter where I land these changes are evident.
male Northern Cardinal sings on territory

Sometimes it's a subtle change like when a common local species begins to sing, and other times it's a bit more flashy! Either way these changes are readily apparent for any wishing to take notice.

Blackbirds digiscoped with Leica APO Televid 82 spotting scope & D-lux 4 camera
Red-winged Blackbirds may be the local king of dramatic displays. This widespread bird can be seen almost anywhere in the US and they almost dare you to NOT notice them with their showy displays.

male Red-winged Blackbirds flash their red epaulettes in showy territorial displays

Herons & Egrets rarely display away from nesting colonies, but it is hard not to notice the dramatic color changes in their exposed skin when they move into their high-breeding condition. Note the dramatic differences in the two adult Tricolored Herons below digiscoped on the same morning just feet apart.

adult Tricolored Heron in typical plumage digiscoped in Galveston, TX 4/2009

Note the electric blue skin on the face on the Heron below!

adult Tricolored in high-breeding condition, digiscoped Galveston, TX, 4/09

Shorebirds like a Willet have comparatively drab plumage year round, adding only brown barring on the undersides and dark streaks and bars on the back feathers during breeding season.

"Eastern" Willet, digiscoped with Leica APO Televid scope & D-Lux 4 camera

However, what they lack in splashy colors they more than make up for in behavior and song. When displaying, nearly all shorebirds partake in elaborate flight displays with loud, drawn out songs. It seems these birds vocalize all day long and will often perch high on short shrubs, trees, power-lines, whatever... A very pronounced departure from their typical behavior of feeding and resting at the water's edge!

"Eastern" Willet digiscoped atop a shrub at the marsh edge, Galveston, TX 4/09
These few sample images proving spring was in the air, were captured through my scope in just a couple hours on my way to the Galveston Featherfest vendor display area. A nice distraction before officially going to work for the day! ;)

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