Tag Archives: buff

Greater Roadrunner

Bewick’s Wren and Greater Roadrunner

Bewick’s Wren and Greater Roadrunner… Two more birds added; neither are rare but both are first on the year. I always think of Wylie Coyote and cartoons from days of old when I view a Roadrunner. We located the Bewick’s Wren by his call. He was hiding in a shrub close to the first set of cabins at Lake Mineral Wells State Park. I stopped the truck and pulled up the phone app. As soon as I played his call… he popped up and started scolding me. Click!

Bewick Wren
Bewick's Wren
  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 26 February, 2013
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

Greater Roadrunner
Greater Roadrunner
  • Aperture: ƒ/6.3
  • Camera: Canon EOS REBEL T3i
  • Taken: 24 February, 2013
  • Focal length: 300mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000s

Happy Birding!!!

Red Wing Blackbird

Carolina Wren or Marsh Wren? The joys of birding…

The Carolina Wren story began as a Marsh Wren debate and still weighs on my mind. Weighs may be a bit of an overstatement. The story and the debate remains the same. Where most people say it’s a bird – others want to know its song. Some people could care less about a name; while others enjoy watching the activity and want to learn of its habitat. Desi and I have a desire simply to name them. What most people on the planet do not know is just how difficult that venture can prove to be. Naming sometimes requires identifying activity, time of year (season), habitat, song… all goes well beyond their shape, size and color. Joys of birding? Yes, it is fun but it can be frustrating. Here are two such discussions and the reason for this posting.

Red Wing Blackbird
Red Wing Blackbird

The most recent incident took place during our adventure to the Mineral Wells, Texas State Park on December 08, 2012. A bird was spotted, a flock is tracked. The reeds are full with this flock and it is by a body of water. Too large to be a Wren and it had the markings of a Finch. Now the discussion, Savannah Sparrow vs. Song Sparrow, it was neither, the bird in question was a female Red Wing Blackbird. Who would have thought? A name can seriously throw you off track. Spot one in some reeds, catch the flight and after a one to four second viewing… identify from a book. If you are new to the activity of bird watching, it can be daunting once you move beyond your backyard birds. I have several friends that help me and on more than one occasion, they have disagreed with my decision. As one friend quoted, even the Birds of North America guide says that Savannah Sparrows and female Red Wing Blackbird are commonly mistaken for one another. The message, don’t get discouraged. It was there in black and white. Take a look at the next three photos. Now remember, unless you carry a good camera and have a quick finger, this quick glimpse may be the only chance you get. From there it is all about knowledge, skill and memory. Could you tell them apart?

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

My favorite debate happened at the end of this past summer (September 22nd, 2012): Carolina Wren vs. Marsh Wren. If you are a bird watcher and this has happened to you then congratulations. You are amongst the majority. The story: It was without a doubt a small Wren and we were on a small inland marsh that feeds Holland Lake in Weatherford, Texas. A friend and I were bird watching at this small lake when we heard a sweet little bird song coming from some heavy undergrowth next to the marsh. We could hear it but no visual was available. It was tedious work but my Canon T3i and I wormed through some brush quietly until I was nearly stepping on the little bugger. IMPORTANT: It was on a shrub next to the water. Now I am not much on bird song identification so I had to rely on visuals. I snapped a couple of shots and moved on. Later during comparison, It was a perfect match for a Marsh Wren. We were by a marsh after all. Later I was corrected by a mentor that it HAD TO BE a Carolina and not a Marsh Wren. Marsh Wrens are ALWAYS over water usually perched on a reed but always over water. So six inches from a habitat made my decision wrong. Even by the water made my identification improbable and incorrect.

One can see how tediously agonizing and wonderfully difficult the world of birding can be. Desi and I love every second of it. Yesterday, we did indeed capture a little Marsh Wren (as seen below). This bird never stopped singing except to listen to our whistles. What I also learned is they rarely stop moving when agitated. This Marsh Wren worked a very predictable circle pattern within the reeds; busily hopping one to the next but never coming outside the “thatch.”

Carolina Wren from Holland Lake
CAROLINA WREN from Holland Lake
MARSH WREN from lake Mineral Wells State Park
MARSH WREN from lake Mineral Wells State Park

Bird watching, bird photography and building a bird habitat have become all so addictive for me. It is a late life hobby that is challenging, yet relaxing and rewarding. I hope that you have enjoyed me sharing another adventure with you. There are several more in the works. We took over 1200 photos while at the lake and marked off nine birds from our county list. That means it was a great week for birding in Palo Pinto County.

House Sparrow Female

House Sparrows on Mineral Wells feeder

The House Sparrow is our most common feeder bird in the Mineral Wells, Texas area. They can be found most places where there are houses and people. These birds have a tendency to drive out many of our native birds and are successfully keeping away the Cardinals. Only the squirrels, Mockingbirds, Chickadees and Titmice are able to put up with their constant presence. The Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals and American Cardinals are hanging out up on the hill from our house but I hope to draw them down with better feed. We shall see.

Texas male House Sparrows are bright brown birds with gray heads, brown crest, white cheeks, dark beaks and a black bib. Females are a light brown with dingy gray-brown underparts and yellow beaks. Their backs are noticeably striped with buff, black, and brown. The bibs on the males and yellow beaks on the females make it easy to tell what sex is currently controlling the feeder.

House Sparrow Female
Close Crop of female House Sparrow
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 15 July, 2012
  • Focal length: 158.6mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s

House_Sparrow_Male
Somebody is watching me.
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 15 July, 2012
  • Focal length: 142.7mm
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s

White Winged Dove juvenile

White-Winged Dove

The White-winged Dove is a common sight in our Mineral Wells, Texas neighborhood and the Southwest. The White-winged dove has a large white patch in its wings that make it easy to distinguish from other dove. The white patch is visible as a white line along the front of the wing when perched. It has square tail with a white tip. The skin around the eyes is bright blue and it has a black streak on its cheek.

Our White-wings are heavily mixed in with the Tits and Chickadees at all of our feeders. They especially love corn and small wild bird feeds. When nothing else is flocked at the feeders, one will always find a few of dove as well as a squirrel or two. The dove are great to watch when on feeders. Very uncoordinated and have an issue actually getting to the seed. Doves are meant to be ground feeders, like chickens. They will pick up tiny seed and rocks. The tiny rocks help in their digestion. Their behavior and bad make-up remind me of a circus act gone bad.

White Winged Dove
White Winged Dove Ruffled
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 17 June, 2012
  • Focal length: 158.6mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

White Winged Dove
White Winged Dove Posing
  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: X-S1
  • Taken: 24 June, 2012
  • Focal length: 158.6mm
  • ISO: 500
  • Shutter speed: 1/550s