I have said this before, but the "anticipation" of a favorite event is almost intoxicating. That pretty much describes the wait for my favorite photography subjects... the wood warblers.
2009 shot of the Black & White Warbler... chosen for the inside back cover of the "Loon", a MOU magazine.
There is some truth to the old adage I recall as a kid, "A watched pot never boils". I find I am better served, if I use the approach of enjoying what nature serves up each day.
The Lapland Longspur is one of the first migrants that proceeds the warblers. It is a stunning little bird, that is on it's way to the breeding grounds of the high arctic. It makes a relatively short stay here in the spring and a longer stop over in the fall. The following image is one I took April 12. It is the first time I had ever seen a male longspur in breeding plumage; thus the black auriculars. A fascinating fact, is that some flocks of these birds can reach into the "millions"... my little flock numbered in the teens.
Another bird that is prevalent here in the early spring is the Pine Siskin. This tiny, gentle bird is a finch, it is a year around resident of my area and is now in the nesting process. I saw one of the little birds carrying a bill full of feathers into the top of a spruce tree last week... I suspect the egg laying is now in progress.
The Dark-eyed Juncos arrived in large flocks this April. I did have two of them that stayed all winter in our yard. Since they are ground feeders, I threw seeds out to them each morning and evening throughout the winter. When the larger flocks of juncos arrived, they left for the breeding grounds, not far from us in Canada.
Thankfully, the Pileated Woodpecker, one of my favorite birds, is here on the ridge twelve months of the year. Big Woody is a treat. I have a pair that is now nesting in a dead white birch tree. They both took turns hollowing it out and are now sitting on eggs. Hopefully I can keep the Pine Marten out of there this year; in the spring of 2009 the marten destroyed the chicks in their nest. The first photo is dad Pileated sitting on eggs and the second is the female "communicating" with the male. You can hear their calls to each other every day, echoing throughout the forest.
Spring would not be complete without the arrival of the Brown Creeper. This little bird is a "stitch" to watch work a tree. They start from the bottom and encircle the entire tree from the bottom to the top. I don't get the "creeping" aspect of the name, to get them in focus is a trying circumstance. I have found if you get the camera focused mid way up the tree, you have a 50/50 chance of capturing this elusive bird.
One of the more beautiful spring bird songs is that of the Purple Finch. I take this bird for granted sometimes because of their numbers; we have them here year around. They nest in our area, so there are many in the forest and at our feeders. I love their sweet song and the feather glint of the male in the morning sun is spectacular.
The advent of the sparrows is the prelude to the warblers. Each spring the first sparrow arriving on the ridge is the American Tree Sparrow. This sparrow is on it's way to the far reaches of northern Canada and Alaska. They are also the last sparrow through here in the fall.
My favorite sparrow nests here on the ridge. The White-throated Sparrow is not only beautiful, but it mingles with my tame chickadees. I get to "talk" to them all spring and summer. The "talking" takes place when the territorial males are setting up residence on the ridge. I whistle the White-throated Sparrow song and the male flies in with gusto and answers my call. I have done this for many minutes a day during the breeding season. This little beauty answered my call and I got this shot of him.
If you go back to my past posts in the archives, you can see and read about my little friend "Stubby." This little White-throated Sparrow arrived in the fall of 2008 and again in the spring of 2009... and now I think she is back again. She meets me in the same area and flies to my feet and eats hulled sunflower seeds. I have no way of proving it is her each year, but I have no other White-throated Sparrow that acts like this.
The Song Sparrow has a beautiful voice and song... I can hear it echoing along the woodland edge all of April. These sparrows also nest here, so I see them all summer. I took this photo along our driveway a few days ago.
The Chipping Sparrow is the last to arrive, so I should be seeing his return any day now. I have them nesting in our yard each spring.
Arguably the longest and most beautiful song in the forest emits from one of the tiniest birds. That would be the Winter Wren; her song is lovely and long... also, she is perhaps the most difficult bird in the forest to photograph. At least for me. She also nests in our area, I hope this is the year I find her fledglings, for I missed them last year.
My previous post was on the Ruffed Grouse, but I would be remiss not to add this final composition of the "little drummer boy."
"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." Chinese Proverb