Horicon Marsh and Hustisford August 20, 2013

Photographs taken at Horicon Marsh and Hustisford on August 20, 2013.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

Blue-winged Teal Family

Blue-winged Teal Family

Stilt Sandpipers

Stilt Sandpipers

Lesser Yellowlegs, Hustisford

Lesser Yellowlegs, Hustisford

Pectoral Sandpiper, Hustisford

Pectoral Sandpiper, Hustisford

Least Sandpipers, Hustisford

Least Sandpipers, Hustisford

Least Sandpiper, Hustisford

Least Sandpiper, Hustisford

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Pectoral Sandpipers, Hustisford

Pectoral Sandpipers, Hustisford

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

Horicon Marsh, WI August 13, 2013

Photographs from Horicon Marsh, Fond du lac/Dodge County, Wisconsin taken August 13, 2013.

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit

Common Moorhen with young

Common Moorhen with young

Red-necked Phalaropes

3 – Red-necked Phalaropes (background)

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Juvenile Stilt Sandpiper

Juvenile Stilt Sandpiper

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

Horicon Marsh, WI July 29, 2013

Photographs from Horicon Marsh, Fond du lac/Dodge County, Wisconsin taken July 29, 2013.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Baby Common Moorhen

Baby Common Moorhen

Juvenile American White Pelicans

Juvenile American White Pelicans

Juvenile American White Pelicans

Juvenile American White Pelicans

Juvenile American White Pelicans

Juvenile American White Pelicans

Juvenile American White Pelican

Juvenile American White Pelican

Juvenile Black Tern

Juvenile Black Tern

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

Cattle Egret

The Cattle Egret is one of my nemesis birds this year. After many miles of driving through areas where Cattle Egrets had been reported, this was my first real chance to photograph one. This time it did not disappoint me. I saw not one bird, but two.  They were in a double pasture with cows just northeast of Horicon Marsh on Stumpf Road in Fond du lac County, Wisconsin.

I’ve also included images of some Wilson’s Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) from Horicon Marsh.

Photographs taken July 23, 2013.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Binomial name: Bubulcus ibis

Category: Bitterns, Herons, and Allies

Description: White plumage with cream-colored feathers on its chest, head, and tail during breeding season.  Yellow bill and gray legs.

Size: 18”-22” long, 35” – 38” wingspan

Weight: 9.5 oz. – 18 oz.

Habitat: Pastures, grasslands, meadows, and wetlands

Diet: Insects (grasshoppers and crickets), spiders, amphibians, and worms

Nesting: Cattle Egrets nest in colonies, typically near a body of water.  Both males and females build the nest; males collect twigs and sticks while the female assembles them into jumbled pile in a tree or shrub.  It is common for these birds to steal nest materials from others.  The female will lay 1 to 5 eggs and raise 1 brood each season.  Both parents incubate the eggs.  Chicks are born with down feathers but are still helpless.  The fledglings leave the nest after about 45 days.

Notes: Cattle Egrets are appropriately named as they tend to forage for food near cattle or other large, grazing animals.  They eat insects and other vertebrates spread by these animals.  The birds have also been known to forage behind farm machinery.  Farmers may welcome these birds to their pastures as Cattle Egrets will help control fly and tick populations among cattle.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Royal Catchfly

I had another opportunity to photograph the Ruby-throated Hummingbird in my backyard, this time enjoying Royal Catchfly (Silene regia).  As I mentioned in my last post on this fascinating species (Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Bee Balm), these hummingbirds favor red tubular flowers most of all.  Royal Catchfly, a native of Missouri, is an excellent candidate here.

Photographs taken July 21, 2013 in Waukesha County, WI.

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To see the full gallery of images, please click here.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Just this week, I had the chance to photograph a Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Bee Balm at length in our yard in Waukesha, WI.  The action I captured was of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird repeatedly visiting a bed of Red Bee Balm in our yard. This solitary species is enjoyable to watch as it darts, hovers, rotates, perches, and flies both forwards and backwards (Hummingbirds are the only bird species currently known to fly backwards).  They favor red tubular flowers for nectar as is demonstrated by the vibrant Red Bee Balm pictured (Monarda didyma).

Pictures taken on July 15, 2013 in Waukesha County.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Binomial name: Archilochus colubris

Category: Hummingbirds

Description: Metallic green feathers on back, grayish-white on underparts.  Males have a vibrant red throat which may appear dark in poor lighting. Wings are dark gray, almost black.  Long, slender bill is black in color and mostly straight with a slight curve at the tip.

Size: 2.8″-3.5″ long, 3” – 4” wingspan

Weight: 0.071 oz. – 0.21 oz.

Habitat: Broadleaf and pine forests, orchards, meadows, parks, and gardens

Diet: Tree and flower nectar, small insects, and spiders

Nesting: The female provides all parental care, building a nest in a protected tree or shrub on a slightly downward-sloping limb.  They favor deciduous trees such as oak, birch, or poplar.  The nest is made out of bud scales, lichen, spider silk, and dandelion or thistle down.  The same nest may be used year after year with the female making annual repairs.  The female will lay 1-3 eggs at a time, laying eggs once or twice per summer.  The young remain in the nest for 22-25 days.

Notes: A list of just some of the of native wildflowers we have planted in our yard to attract these exquisite tiny birds are: Red Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis),  Royal Catchfly (Silene regia), Butterfly Milkweed (Ascelpias tuberose), Hoary Vervain (Verbena stricta), Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum), Penstemon species, Echinacea species.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Red Bee Balm

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.

Laughing Gull

Photographs taken in North Point, Sheboygan, WI, on June 17, 2013.

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Binomial name: Leucophaeus atricilla

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Description: White body with dark gray back and wings with a black head.  In the winter, the black head will fade to white.  Dark red bill and legs.

Size: 14” – 16” long, 39” – 43” wingspan

Weight: 7 oz. – 13 oz.

Habitat: Coastal shorelines, beaches, ponds, and marshes

Diet: Insects, earthworms, snails, fish, squid, crabs, berries, garbage

Nesting: They nest in large colonies (up to 50,000 birds) on beaches or other shorelines.  The nest is made of grasses and is usually built on the ground (or on rocks or dead plant materials) by both the male and female.  Sometimes the male will build a nest in hopes of attracting a suitable breeding partner.  The female will lay 1 brood per season with 3-4 eggs.  She will incubate the eggs for 21 days.

Notes: The name “laughing gull” comes from its call which sounds like a high-pitched laugh.

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

Little Gull

Photographs taken in North Point, Sheboygan, WI, on June 17, 2013.

Little Gull

Little Gull

Binomial name: Hydrocoloeus minutus

Category: Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers

Description: Light gray body, gray wings with white wingtip and a black head.  In the winter, the black head will fade to white.  Dark red legs and a black bill.

Size: 10” – 12” long, 24” – 31” wingspan

Weight: 2.4 oz. – 5.7 oz.

Habitat: Freshwater shorelines of lakes, ponds, rivers, and marshes

Diet: Flying insects, fish, crayfish, snails, and leeches

Nesting: The nest is made of floatable grasses or other vegetation and is usually built on the ground adjacent to shallow water.  The female will lay 1 brood per season with 1-4 eggs.  Although the chicks are able to begin leaving the nest after only 3 days, they take 3 years to reach maturity.

Notes: Commonly found across Europe and Asia, Little Gulls are rare birds in North America.  However, their numbers have been increasing since the 1960’s and they are regular visitors to both the East Coast and the Great Lakes of the Midwest.  They may be seen in flocks with Bonaparte’s Gulls.

Little Gull

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

Wood Ducks in Waukesha County on September 19, 2012

I came across a small pond in northwest Waukesha County that had about a dozen Wood Ducks, male and female. Images were taken on September 19, 2012.

Wood Ducks, male right, female left

Wood Ducks, female right, male left

Wood Duck

Binomial name: Aix sponsa

Category: Ducks, Geese, and Swans

Size: 18.5” long, 30” wing span

Weight: 1.3 lb

Wood Duck, male, just relaxing!

Wood Duck, male, just relaxing!

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, male

Wood Ducks, male right, female left

Wood Ducks, male right, female left

Wood Ducks, female

Wood Ducks, female

Wood Ducks, male right front, female left back

Wood Ducks, male right front, female left back

Wood Duck, female preening

Wood Duck, female preening

Wood Duck, male

Wood Duck, male

Wood Ducks, male left, female right

Wood Ducks, male left, female right

Wood Duck, female

Wood Duck, female

White Ibis

This White Ibis was was found and reported by a local birder in Racine, WI. The location was the Wolf Lake boat landing at Richard Bong State Recreation Area in Kenosha County, WI.  Since the White Ibis was so far from its natural range, I knew I had to make the trip down to Bong SRA. When I arrived early in the morning, it was viewable from the boat landing but a long ways off.  I spent at least 5 hours there trying to get some nice pictures as it moved around the drained lake bed from one spot to another. Because of the locations of the bird and the bright sun light, I knew a return trip would be required. The next morning I returned and the bird was in a different location than the previous day. I had better views and even took a short video. The White Ibis was a new life bird for me. It is a beautiful bird and I was glad I made the trips to see it.

Photographs were taken on June 11, 2013.

White Ibis

White Ibis

Binomial name: Eudocimus albus

Category: Ibises and Spoonbills

Description: White feathers with black wingtips (typically only visible during flight), long red legs and red bill with a downward curve

Size: 22” – 27”

Weight: 26.5 oz. to 37 oz.

Habitat: Marshes, ponds, wetlands, and wet lawns

Diet: Insects, crayfish, and small fish

Nesting: Males secure and deliver nesting materials while the female constructs the nest, usually in a tree or shrub, sometimes over water.  The female will lay 1 – 5 eggs which are then incubated by the male.  During the incubation period, he will aggressively defend the nest, even going into a pattern of starvation.  2-3 weeks later, the eggs hatch both parents will feed and care for the fledglings.

Notes:  The White Ibis congregates in huge flocks for feeding, nesting, and roosting.  Despite their social nature, Ibises typically insist on grooming themselves rather than engaging in allopreening.  In fact, nearly half their day may be spent on resting and roosting activities which includes bathing, preening, and grooming their feathers.

White Ibis

White Ibis

White Ibis

White Ibis

White Ibis

White Ibis

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.

Eastern Bluebird

While out doing some normal birding in the South Kettle Moraine I came across an Eastern Bluebird nest in a natural cavity. They were feeding the young on a regular basis. I set for some shooting under a honeysuckle bush to capture some of the action. On one set of images a female comes out of the bluebird house with some new bugs that the male had just brought her, only to do a 360° turn right back into the house to feed the young.

Photographs were taken on May 30, 2013.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Binomial name: Sialia sialis

Category: Thrushes

Description: Both male and female birds have blue plumage on top with rusty-colored throat and breast.  However, the male enjoys a much brighter blue color compared to the female’s pale blue feathers.  The female also has a gray head.

Size: 6.3″-8.3″ long, 9.8” – 13” wingspan

Weight: 1.0 oz. – 1.2 oz.

Habitat: Forests adjacent to meadows or with clearings and near lakes or rivers

Diet: Insects (grasshoppers, beetles, crickets), spiders, snails, and wild fruit and seeds

Nesting: Eastern Bluebirds seek out nesting areas abandoned by other birds such as woodpecker holes.  The female will build the nest over the course of 1-2 weeks using feathers and plant materials.  She will lay 3-7 eggs at a time, raising 2 broods over the course of a summer.  Both parents will feed the young  for 2-3 weeks before the fledglings leave the nest.

Notes: If you can offer a suitable habitat with trees and a water source, invite Eastern Bluebirds into your backyard with a nestbox.  Click here for a blueprint and more information on this easy DIY project.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.

Common Loon

On a recent trip to Sawyer County in Northern Wisconsin, I had the opportunity to photograph Common Loons.  This graceful bird has an enchanting call that has inspired numerous Native American tales and even a novel.  The Common Loon has been featured on Canadian currency and is also the state bird of Minnesota.

I have also included some images taken last summer at the same location.

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon

Binomial name: Gavia immer

Category: Loons

Description: Black head with black and white checkered body in summer for breeding season; brown and white body in the winter.  Blackish-blue bill that is held horizontally and black feet.

Size: 24″-40″ long, 4′ – 5′ wingspan

Weight: 4 lbs. – 8 lbs.

Habitat: Large lakes and shorelines

Diet: Fish (perch, trout, sunfish, bass)

Nesting: Usually nests on small islands or other locations safe from land-based predators.  The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in mud or sand.  Typically 1 to 3 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents.  The parents aggressively protect their nests and share the responsibility of feeding the young.  Baby loons may be seen riding on the back of either parent in the water.

Notes: The Common Loon has legs positioned in the rear of its body.  This makes for excellent diving and graceful swimming; however, it also makes for awkward landings and clumsy walking.  In fact, Loons require a “runway” spanning 30 yards or 1/4 mile for take-off and landing AND it can only be done in water.  Loons have actually been stranded in small ponds, icy lakes, or even a parking lot without a suitable runway and must be rescued.

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

Common Loon @ Window to Wildlife

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.

Great Gray Owl

This Great Gray Owl was reported by a local resident. Two days after the posting, I made the run up to Mauston very early in the morning. The exact location of this owl was not given but I had a hunch on where the location was. Two other bird parties arrived early and the bird was located after an hour of searching. I spent the better part of the day enjoying great looks of this bird along with a couple other birders as the bird stayed most of the day with in viewing area. I was able to record a short video, too.  When it did disappear, it was only for a short period time. Photographs taken February 27, 2013 in Mauston, WI.

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Great Gray Owl

Binomial name: Strix nebulosa

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Gray feathers in various shades cover the body.  The upper parts are gray with pale streaks while the underparts are gray with dark streaks.  Yellow eyes surrounded by dark circles.

Size: 24” – 33” long, 55” – 60” wingspan

Weight: 1.3 lbs. – 4.2 lbs.

Habitat: Conifer and pine forests, near open areas such as meadows or wetlands

Diet: Rodents (especially voles), hares, weasels, thrushes, grouse, and ducks

Nesting: Great Gray Owls do not build nests.  They may occupy a nest previously built by other large birds such as hawks or other raptos.  They may also nest in broken tree tops or empty tree cavities.  A female usually lays 2 to 5 eggs and raises 1 brood per season.  Only the female incubates the eggs and the incubation period lasts about 30 days.  The male will hunts for enough food to feed both the female and the chicks until they become fledglings, 3 to 4 weeks after hatching.

Notes: The Great Gray Owl has a highly developed sense of hearing which is vital to hunting.  They may even locate and capture prey moving beneath snow or ice, plunging through to make the catch.

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To see the full gallery of images, please click here.

Northern Hawk Owl

The Northern Hawk Owl is an uncommon visitor to Wisconsin. This bird had a long stay of 4+ months in Door County, Wisconsin near Sister Bay. This bird’s normal range is Canada; the southern border of the range is the most northern edge of Minnesota. Photographs taken February 13, 2013.

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Northern Hawk Owl

Binomial name: Surnia ulula

Category: Typical Owls

Description: Dark brown feathers with cream-colored spots on upper parts; black plumage on the back of the neck.  Underparts and tail feathers are cream with brown bands.  Eyes and beak are yellow.

Size: 14” – 18”, 18” wingspan

Weight: 10.5 oz.

Habitat: Deciduous and coniferous forests near open areas such as clearings, meadows, and swamps

Diet: Rodents (especially voles), hares, weasels, thrushes, grouse, and finches

Nesting: Both parents build a nest, normally in the top of dead conifers or hollow stumps or, more rarely, on cliffsides.  The female lays 3 to 11 eggs and does most of the incubating while the male hunts.  After 25 to 30 days, the chicks will hatch and the female will hunt while the male guards the nest.  After about 3 weeks, the fledglings will begin to leave the nest.

Notes: Northern Hawk Owls are considered a rare bird due to their low population density and remote nesting habitats.  However, if you are lucky enough to find one, they may allow you to approach quite closely.  They are unusually tolerant of humans.  But, if it is breeding season, the males tend to get quite aggressive while defending their young.  Approach with caution.

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Red-headed Woodpeckers nesting and raising young in the South Kettle Moraine near Eagle Wisconsin May 2012

I came across a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers in the South Kettle Moraine near Eagle Wisconsin. It appeared they were setting their sights on a dead oak tree, a place to raise young this year. I watched this pair for almost 2 months and almost daily. I started observing them when they started cleaning out an existing hole in a dead tree. They were getting it ready for the egg laying. As days went by they started bring food to the young. As the young got older they became visible in the hole opening. One thing I’ve noticed photographing these birds was that they took the food into the nest early on. As they chicks got bigger, as they brought the food to the young, they started making the young come closer to the hole opening for it. At the end just before the young left the nest hole, they made the young almost come out of the hole for the food. I noticed too that the adults both feed the young. The adults brought in all different types of food weather it was grasshoppers, daddy long legs, berries, larvae or what ever. That way when the young  finally left the nest, they knew exactly what their diet should consist of. It was a truly amazing experience to see this all happen over a period of almost 2 months. I was there the day the young birds finally left the nest hole. I captured one flight out of the hole. Off the birds went and after that day, a big storm came through. Not sure whatever happened to the young birds that fledged the nest as I never saw them again. I did see adults after that day, maybe the adults took them off to a place on their own, not sure. Images were taken over a period from the beginning of May 2012 into the beginning of July.

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Red-headed Woodpecker

Binomial name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Category: Woodpeckers and Allies

Description: Red head with black back and white underparts.  The wings are black with white wingtips.  Adult males and females have identical plumage (sexually monomorphic).

Size: 7.5″- 9.8″ long, 16.7” wingspan

Weight: 2.0 oz. – 3.4 oz.

Habitat: Deciduous and coniferous forests, orchards, swamps, wetlands, and farmland

Diet: Insects, fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds

Nesting: Nests are built by both partners in cavities of dead trees or utility poles.  The males do most of the cavity excavation.  Females lay 3 to 10 eggs at one time, up to two broods per season.  The first brood is laid in May and incubated for 2 weeks, and hatchlings remain in the nest for 24 to 31 days.  Red-headed Woodpeckers often reuse the same nesting cavity year after year.

Notes: The Red-headed Woodpecker stores food, only one of four species in North American known to do so.  It may hide nuts, seeds, and insects.  In fact, Red-headed Woodpeckers awesome store grasshoppers still alive, stuck in tight crevices or covered with bark.  The Red-headed Woodpecker was also featured on a stamp from the United States Postal Service in 1996 and from 1999 – 2006.

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An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

An adult doing some work on the nest hole

Both adults doing some work on the nest hole

Both adults doing some work on the nest hole

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

Cleaning out the nest box

Cleaning out the nest box

An adult on a near by tree bringing food to the young

An adult on a near by tree bringing food to the young

An adult leaving the nest hole, the other adult ready to bring more in

An adult leaving the nest hole, the other adult just close by

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

An adult to leave the nest hole while the other adult is ready to bring in the next food for the young

An adult to leave the nest hole while the other adult is ready to bring in the next food for the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult storing some food on a nearby tree

An adult storing some food on a nearby tree

An adult storing some food on a nearby tree

An adult storing some food on a nearby tree

An adult feeding the young

An adult feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

 An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult leaving the nest hole after feeding the young

An adult just before leaving the nest after bringing food to the young

An adult just before leaving the nest after bringing food to the young

An adult just before landing at the nest hole with food for the young

An adult just before landing at the nest hole with food for the young

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

An adult just before landing at the nest hole with food for the young

An adult just before landing at the nest hole with food for the young

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

On going adults bring food to the young, different types of food, insects, berries, etc.

An adult just before landing at the nest hole with food for the young

An adult just before landing at the nest hole with food for the young

An adult off in a distance from the nest. This happens sometimes as they prepare the food before bringing it into the nest hole to eat. It may be compacted some what of whatever the bird does at this time in preparation

An adult off in a distance from the nest. This happens sometimes as they prepare the food before bringing it into the nest hole to eat. It may be compacted some what of whatever the bird does at this time in preparation

A young Red-headed Woodpecker sticks its head out of the nest hole waiting for an adult to bring in food

A young Red-headed Woodpecker sticks its head out of the nest hole waiting for an adult to bring in the next food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food

Adult bringing food to the young. As I noted, the adults draw the young closer to the nest hole opening till they are just about out of the hole to get the food. This bird is showing some for the red on the back of the head already

a young Red-headed Woodpecker with a berry in its bill

a young Red-headed Woodpecker with a berry in its bill

A young Red-headed Woodpecker sticks its head out of the nest hole waiting for an adult to bring in the next food

A young Red-headed Woodpecker sticks its head out of the nest hole waiting for an adult to bring in the next food

The maiden flight for this young Red-headed Woodpecker leaving the nest. It was one of 2 birds that left the nest that day

The maiden flight for this young Red-headed Woodpecker leaving the nest. It was one of 2 birds that left the nest that day

Young Red-headed Woodpecker off in a distance in some near by oaks after it left the nest. Already eating something here

Young Red-headed Woodpecker off in a distance in some near by oaks after it left the nest. Already eating something here

 

American Avocet

On May 1, 2012, the American Avocet visited McKinley Beach at Milwaukee’s lakefront.  Sometimes this bird is seen during migration if it strays from its normal course.  Along with many other photographers, I was delighted to capture images of this infrequent visitor to Wisconsin.

During migration, the American Avocet doesn’t spend much time in one location, typically 24 hours or less.  So if you hear about one, you best be on your way!

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

American Avocet

Binomial name: Recurvirostra americana

Category: Stilts and Avocets

Description: Black and white plumage on the body. Reddish-brown feathers on the head in summer for breeding season; white in the winter.  Thin, upturned bill and long, gray legs.

Size: 16″-20″ long, 27″ – 30″ tall

Weight: 10 – 15 oz.

Habitat: Ponds, lakes, and shorelines

Diet: Crustaceans and insects

Nesting: Shallow nest near water such as shorelines or small islands.  The nest may be made out of thin sticks, dried grasses, or a depression in sand.  Typically 3 or 4 eggs will be laid at one time and will be incubated by both parents.  The parents aggressively protect their nests.  After hatching, the young will leave the nest within 24 hours and feed themselves.

Notes: The American Avocet has a tricky way of dealing with predators.  When in danger, its bird call pitch may change to simulate the Doppler effect.  This confuses predators into thinking the bird is approaching more quickly than it really is!

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

American Avocet @ Window to Wildlife

To see the full gallery of images, please click here.