American Coot photographed at Whitewater Draw in southeastern Arizona.
In mid-August, a female American Goldfinch collects thistledown to build her next near a creek in central Ohio.
Goldfinches are among the last birds to raise a brood in the American midwest, largely because they rely on mildewed and thistle as nesting materials.
Orange Sulphur Butterflies congregated on our gravel lane.
This young Song Sparrow is drying out from a morning bath.
Brown Pelicans fly in the famous “roller” formation off Folly Island, SC.
Tall yet graceful, social yet independent, Sandhill Cranes have long fascinated people.
Sandhills are named for their breeding grounds on the Nebraska prairie, which bleeds into Sandhill Region of the state. Huge flocks migrate to winter in such places as Florida, Texas and Mexico.
Some 10,000 Sandhills migrate to southeastern Arizona for the winter. These birds were photographed at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, near Wilcox, AZ.
The sight of thousands upon thousands of Sandhill taking flight is awesome. Yet that’s not what was most memorable about the cranes. My friend Tom and I parked a good half mile from the wetlands where we hoped the Sandhills were congregated. As we hiked toward the water, we started to hear an unfamiliar sound. Before long the loud, rolling, raucous sound stopped us in our tracks. It was the cranes.
The cranes left the wetlands in small groups, heading to feed before nightfall.
It can’t be easy, preening with a Great Blue Heron’s beak. Yet this Great Blue took a moment for a feather adjustment on the Little Pigeon River in Sevierville, TN.
I present the American Buckeye. This tree has odorous flowers, poisonous fruit and wood too weak for carpentry. It’s also absolutely one of my favorite trees. Allow me to explain.
American Buckeye trees use every excuse possible to bud, with several false starts late each winter. It’s as if our backyard Buckeye drew this American Robin from its winter shelter by budding this February.
As mentioned earlier, the flowers and even broken branches have a faint odorous scent. This led some pioneers (and I imagine University of Michigan fans) to call it the “fetid buckeye.”
Despite the scent, I think the flowers attract Baltimore Orioles. And I love seeing Baltimore Orioles in the yard, enough to declare the Buckeye one of my favorite trees. A few other birds seem to enjoy the Buckeye in spring as well.
The heat of summer wilts the flowers, which produce fruit better know as “buckeye nuts.” The deep brown color of the nuts is thought to have inspired the name “buckeye.” The nuts really are poisonous for humans. However, the nuts are used to create ornaments and necklaces.
A Yellow Warbler hides in the brush at Magee Marsh along Lake Erie.
Brown-headed Cowbirds sunning on a pasture fence somewhere in rural South Dakota.