Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Western Wilderness Wonders


This past August, I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Tremonton, Utah. While he attended to business, I visited a couple of birding hotspots in the surrounding areas. My favorite location was Antelope Island State Park in Syracuse, Utah.  A wide variety of beautiful birds and wildlife were seen, as well as stunning scenery. I also drove through Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City, Utah. The bird numbers were impressive and the drive quite enjoyable.

After my husband concluded his obligations in Tremonton, we drove north and spent three days exploring two majestic and extraordinary national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We meandered through stunning alpine meadows and breathed in the beauty of dramatic vertical peaks. Large herds of bison, elk and pronghorn were observed grazing in sagebrush dotted valleys. American Eagles and Osprey soared effortlessly aloft. At Yellowstone, we were mesmerized by the spectacular geothermal wonders and the radiant colors of the hot springs. A return trip will definitely be planned, as we wish we could have spent more time exploring these awe-inspiring destinations. All in all, I tallied 37 life birds!


A feisty Rufous Hummingbird perches near the wild bergamot (bee balm) patch - Life bird!


A Handsome Peregrine Falcon scans the vast fields for prey


Two American Avocets feed in a shallow salt water pool


Long-legged beauty ~ Black-necked Stilt


A striking Western Grebe floats lazily on calm waters - Life bird!


Two juvenile Western Grebes enjoy the sunny day at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge


A lone Ring-necked Pheasant steps gingerly across the road while I stop the car for its safe passage - Life bird!


A handsome Townsend's Warbler seeks nourishment in the berry laden-trees - Life bird!


Perched on a rocky peak and chattering away ~ Rock Wren - Life bird!


An adult Western Kingbird feeds its hungry offspring - Life bird!


 A second ravenous juvenile kingbird attempts to run interference


A young Mountain Bluebird perches on a dried branch - Life bird!


The always majestic American Bald Eagle


A relaxed Bison looks rather surprised when a bold Black-billed Magpie lands on its back


Shoo!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Flying Jewels of Spring


The spring season is one of my favorite times of the year. Along with milder temperatures, the greening of foliage and flowering trees, bird migration occurs. Colorful, active birds make regular stops throughout the Midwest. Some delight us with their beauty throughout the summer months and others stop for only a brief visit as they make their way north. These bright, dazzling birds decorate the blossoming trees for all to appreciate.


Always a glorious sight ~ Scarlet Tanager


A resplendent Blackburnian Warbler explores the oak tree leaves for prey


On the hunt for a buggy snack ~ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher


A brilliant Yellow Warbler pauses for a moment in the marsh


A secretive Kentucky Warbler searches for food amongst the leaf litter


A stunning Chestnut-sided Warbler among the budding pink blossoms


A bright orange beauty ~ Baltimore Oriole


A gorgeous Magnolia Warbler gleans insects from a budding tree


A striking Cedar Waxwing sups on fresh blooms


A black-capped bird in search of a meal ~ Wilson's Warbler


A Brown Thrasher forages near the forest edge


Seeking nourishment along the creek ~ Prothonotary Warbler


Sitting pretty on a branch ~ Ovenbird


A lovely Canada Warbler searches for nutrition amidst pretty pink blooms


Crooning a tune ~ Hooded Warbler


Blue brilliance ~ Eastern Bluebird


A moment of peace for this busy Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Super Sunflower Seeds


Without a doubt, the most popular seed at our bird feeders is black oil sunflower seeds. While I am in the process of refilling the feeders, scratchy-voiced Tufted Titmice, energetic Red-breasted Nuthatches and brilliant red Northern Cardinals seem to magically appear, eager for a snack of this tasty treat.

Black oil sunflower seeds are especially appealing because they are rich in oil and fat content. The meaty morsels offer much needed calories and nutrition for birds during the cold winter months. As well as supplying energy, black oil sunflower seeds have a high ratio of nutmeat to shell and are packed with essential protein. These sought after tidbits have very thin shells that can be easily broken by most seed eating birds.

During the winter season, we offer black-oil sunflower seeds at the feeders on our country property (in northwest Indiana) and at our home in the big city of Chicago. A steady stream of birds delight in the seeds. We see the above mentioned birds daily, as well as Blue Jays, House Finches, Pine Siskins, Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Wild Turkeys.

To enhance your backyard bird watching experience during the winter months, be sure to place out a bird feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds. This practice is twofold, for the benefit of the area birds and for your own viewing pleasure.


Female Northern Cardinal


Blue Jay


Tufted Titmouse


White-breasted Nuthatch


House Finches


Red-bellied Woodpecker


American Goldfinch


Red-breasted Nuthatch


Northern Cardinal


Dark-eyed Junco


Black-capped Chickadee


Red-headed Woodpecker


Pine Siskin


Dark-eyed Junco and Northern Cardinal


Sunflower seed bandit ~ Red Squirrel


Besides creating and writing posts for my own blog, Nature's Splendor, I am also a monthly contributor to the Birding is Fun! blog. The above post was originally written for the later in January of 2013.