Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grandma's Farm

The past three weeks I was at my grandma's farm in Oklahoma, and I just love going there! It's like a perfect country place surrounded by forests, fields, and there's a creek! Also very perfect for all sorts of wildlife, including birds! We went a lot of places around there too, like the Wildcat Glades Center, and a couple other places. So I went birding a lot, and got lots of yearbirds (bird species this year), and lots of lifebirds (new bird species to me). This was a really exiting experience for me, but the time went so fast it felt more like three days than three weeks. I really wish I could have stayed longer. In the last week my cousin came and I had a lot of fun with her. We played in the creek, we even dared each other to get in up to the shoulders! I did, and she went underwater, even though it was really cold... But the next day I had to go home.
Singing male Yellow-rumped Warbler

Red-shouldered Hawk 
Barn Swallow

The elusive Red-headed Woodpecker!

Singing Carolina Wren

Yellow-throated Warbler

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Yesterday, the family and I went to Jester Park, which is near Saylorville lake. While my siblings went to play on the playground, me and mom went up to the lake, and we saw some awesome birds. The first thing we noticed was there were a bunch of white birds sitting on the lake. And by a bunch, I mean thousands. I took some pictures and figured out they were Snow and Ross's Geese. Then they took to the air, and it sounded like thunder! They would just fly back and forth for a bit, then settle down into the water again.

The middle right goose is possibly a Ross's.

There was also a flock of Canada Geese, which I took pictures of, but upon further inspection of the pictures, it turns out there were a couple of Greater White-fronted Geese mixed in!

Canada Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese.

There were some Northern Pintails flying around also, and some Mallards foraging in a large puddle.

Northern Pintails.
We also went to the visitors center, where they have a bunch of bird feeders in the winter. While we were looking there, I spotted this cutie!

Adorable Tufted Titmouse!

Friday, March 7, 2014


So, a couple days ago, at Saylorville lake, I got my first Trumpeter Swans! We saw them because of mom's friend who told us there were a dozen or so at the lake. So we went to look around, and when we did see them, there were quite a few flying with some Canada Geese! After they flew around for a while, they went to go sleep in the snow on the lake. That couldn't have been too comfortable. After we watched them sleep for a bit, mom decided to go look by a little river nearby. I couldn't see anything at first, just a lot of geese. There was a steep bank that led down to the river, and it turns out that a pair were hiding right next to the bank, just enough that we couldn't see them. But I got out of the car, and they started to swim away so I got some nice close pictures.
Flying swans.

Adults with some grayish younger ones.

The pair swimming away.

The white ones are swans.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Saylorville Birds

I went to Saylorville Lake a couple of times last week, and I saw lots of birds. Day One: There were a lot of Canada Geese, a pair of Mallards in a tiny pond, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers at the visitor center, a pair of Northern Cardinals, an American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and I saw a Bald Eagle while we were driving there.
Actually two Mallards.

Hairy Woodpecker.

Day Two: This time I went with my dad, and I got a life bird, Common Goldeneye! Dad also
spotted what might be a Rough-legged Hawk. We saw twice as much Canada Geese as last time, a couple of chickadees, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, lots of Downy Woodpeckers, a Tufted Titmouse, four Mallards, some Bald Eagles, plenty of Red-tailed Hawks, and we heard some Blue Jays. It was a very nice trip.

Canada Goose landing.

Life bird Common Goldeneye.

Better picture of the Common Goldeneye.

One of my best photos, White-breasted Nuthatch.

Another one of my best photos of the day, Downy Woodpecker.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feeder Birds

I put up some feeders about a month ago, and lots of birds have come to them. Most of these birds are year-round here, except for the junco. I have a wooden feeder with safflower and sunflower seeds, a suet log filled with homemade suet, and a completely steel feeder filled with black oil sunflower, peanuts, a little bit of safflower, and some dried cranberries. Almost all the birds have been to the steel feeder, but the woodpeckers prefer suet. The cardinals like the sunflower and safflower, the junco eats whatever is on the ground, the nuthatch likes the sunflower and the suet, and the goldfinches like the sunflower.
Male Northern Cardinal.

Female Northern Cardinal.
Dark-eyed Junco. I think he has some leucism in his tail.
Female House Finch gaping at the safflower.
American Goldfinch and Male House Finch.
House Finches and Goldfinches.
White-breasted Nuthatch.
Male Downy Woodpecker.
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Five New Birds

I have seen five new birds in three days! That's a new record for me! The first bird I saw was a Towhee. Spotted or Eastern? I don't know! But I'm leaning towards Spotted Towhee. Oh, and did you know, that just like the Baltimore Oriole and the Bullock's Oriole were lumped together as one species(Northern Oriole), the Eastern Towhee and the Spotted Towhee were lumped together as the Rufous Sided Towhee. But, since I can't really say I saw a Rufous Sided Towhee, it has to be Spotted or Eastern! What do you think? The next bird I saw was a Fox Sparrow. I may have seen one last year, but I don't remember, so I'm just gonna call it new. Another bird was a Golden Crowned Kinglet. When I saw this, I just went 'gasp' and snapped a picture. the next one that showed up was a American Tree Sparrow. Nothing much to say about this bird except that I got a good picture. The last bird was a Bonaparte's Gull. Dad and I went to Saylorville lake and saw some fish skeletons and a big flock of Ring Billed Gulls. I started taking pictures and looking at them closely, hoping to find a Herring Gull. But what I found was the Bonaparte's Gull, and that's good enough for me!
Towhee. But is it Spotted or Eastern? I'm thinking Spotted!

Another look at the Towhee's wings and tail.

Fox Sparrow.

Golden Crowned Kinglet.

American Tree Sparrow.

The small gull in the middle with the black spot is the Bonaparte's gull. The rest are Ring billed gulls.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bald Eagles

I live near a small river, and there are at least two bald eagles living there. In the first picture, notice how that looks nothing like an eagle! That's because bald eagles don't get their white head and tail until they are five years old. In first and second years, they have mottled brown and white feathers all over their body. In the third year, their plumage is still mottled, but with more white on the head. In the fourth year, they have a solid brown body, but a thick brown stripe behind their eye, making them look a lot like an osprey. The first time I saw an adult bald eagle at the creek, I didn't have my camera! Of all the things! So I actually ran back home to get it, but just as I was coming back, the eagle left. I knew I would probably see him again, I just didn't know when. But I did see him again, this time with my camera.

The reason this bald eagle's eye looks so strange is because he is showing his nictitating membrane. It's kind of like a third eyelid that goes sideways over the eye to clear debris from the eye, or to protect it's eye while going underwater. I think most birds have it,  even some animals that aren't birds have it!