Sunday, March 08, 2009

De Crane, De Crane!

Imagine three different groups of birders, braving the severe weather warnings, shivering in the wind (since everyone expected warmer conditions), tracking each other from one lake to another at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. Suddenly, all binoculars point straight up as the smallest birder shouts, "De Cranes, De Cranes!" None of the Cranes actually land, but they squawk softly for several minutes, to the great enjoyment of the birders. I've been waiting months for an opportunity to use this line in a blog!

As in the old Fantasy Island television show, a cast of feathered characters are in the program today. Red Winged Blackbirds puff their feathers and sing Con-Ko-Ree at the top of their lungs, from every other reed along the marshes. Look at me, baby! I'm beautiful and I sing better than any other bird you will find today. Don't get in my way, dude! Con-ko-ree!

Today, all the lakes have melted, and the Canada Geese swim serenely, pairing off with a good looking partner. The White-fronted Geese are gone, as are the Mute Swans from last Tuesday. A mature Bald Eagle surveys the first lake on our route. A variety of ducks swim in pairs or small rafts on each lake, including Ruddy Duck, Wood Duck, Gadwall, Pintails, Bufflehead, Northern Shoveler, and others.

We especially enjoy some of the less common birds, including several lifers for Dick and me. A Turkey waits for us at the Visitor Center before lunch. Purple Finches (LIFER) stop for lunch at the Center too, jostling with White Throated and White Crowned Sparrows at the feeders. I finally get a chance to closely examine some Tree Sparrows, a Fox Sparrow, and Song Sparrows in full breeding plumage. I thought it was another kind of sparrow altogether! They don't look that bright and colorful later in the summer. A Rusty Blackbird (LIFER) joined the Red Headed Woodpecker. One Common Loon dived out of sight whenever we turned the scopes to it. Overall, we counted 63 species today, pretty good considering the unpleasant weather.

Happy Daylight Savings Time to all of you!


Bob Kaufman said...

Congratulations on your lifers! Spring is here! :-)

Tabib said...

Beautiful Cranes in flight silhouette.

denapple said...

Thanks all. Welcome to my life and birds!

Bob Lenning said...

Oh, you made me homesick for the north woods when you mentioned the loon! I haven't seen one since coming to Kentucky. Like the smell of campfires and fungus, the sound of the loon on a lake at night defines my memories of time in the woods.

I also saw a Purple Finch at the Bernheim feeders the other day, but I've never seen a Rusty Blackbird! I've heard that they've been around. I'm jealous! :-)

Anonymous said...

I would say that 63 species makes for a great birding day! Love the silhouette captures of de cranes and I imagine you had to focus pretty quickly to get those Red-winged Blackbird captures!