March 2nd, 2007

It has been really windy the last couple days, probably 30-40 mph gusts.  Couldn’t find one of the cats yesterday… finally around mid-night, I went out to the barn… he was locked in from when I was working in there earlier.  I had a feeling he was out there… he was there for about 8 hours, and when I showed up he came running to me with a plaintive “meeowwwww!”  The wind was rattling the barn’s metal roof and he probably wasn’t very cozy compared to the laundry room!  We had some more avian visitors… Canada Geese and a flock of White-fronted geese.  I had never seen a Greater White-Fronted Goose before, so that was a first.  Being a “birder” from way back, I always like to see something new.  They have a higher-pitched, almost whistling kleek, kleek or kweek call, much more distinct than the nasally “honk” of the common Canada Goose.  They flew in together, in separate flocks.  Then the White-fronted geese sort of “swam after” the Canada geese… not sure what that was about.  But the White-fronted are not common here at all, just passing through.  More common in winter in the souther U.S. areas from Lousiana to Texas and south in Mexico, and western coastal U.S. areas. Their summer breeding territory is way up in the Northwest Territories and to Alaska, on tundra wetlands .  Amazing how birds migrate over such great distances.  Here’s a few pictures:

White-fronted Geese 2007 Missouri

I got this shot of the underside of a White-fronted Goose with the telephoto as they soared in overhead!

White-fronted Goose, underside, Missouri 2007

Here the White-fronted geese are swimming toward the Canada geese.

White-fronted and Canada Geese- Missouri - 2007

Mergansers, Waxwings and Martins

February 27th, 2007

Long day… but took a few pictures while taking the Lap pup for some training.  Spring may not be official, but signs are all around… lots of new birds passing through, and a warm day of 60+ degrees F.  At least on the south side of the house!  This morning, I noticed two small waterfowl on the pond… the Hooded Merganser.  They stopped by in late November on their way south, and today showed up briefly heading back again.  It was neat to see- they were conducting a courtship ritual with the male swimming proudly in circles around the female, while she flattened her head and body on the water.  I love the display of the males crest!  They saw me a few hundred yards away and took off…

Hooded Merganser courtship Hooded Merganser courtship

We’ve also had a flock of Cedar Waxwings around the house.   Beautiful birds- they’re not here close to the house very long, but they obviously love the berries on the cedar trees.  When those are picked clean, they perch in the Redbud trees- and a few at a time would fly down near the ground and eat the Juniper berries off some of the shrubs around the house. The kindergartner actually began climbing the tree, and the Waxwings stayed perched up high watching him.

 Cedar Waxwing in Redbud tree  Cedar Waxwings in Redbud tree

 I’m also waiting to see when the Purple Martins will return!  I love these guys… will show some pictures if I can. They have been in the area last year, but never here permanently at our home.  Last year I put up a new Purple Martin house- a few of the Martins flew by and perched now and then, but it was up too late in the season for any to choose as a home.  The Martins should be back in our area in the next couple weeks, so I cleaned up the house and made sure it was ready.  We would love to have a few “adopt” the house as their own… they are beautiful birds with soaring flight.  I’m watching the Purple Martin Scout Report to see their progress back north.  Pretty cool… They are already in Arkansas, so any day now we’ll see a scout or two.  You can read about their migration and life history through the link above… amazing flight travel distances. 

Purple Martin house

We also have resident Barn Swallows that return each year, I think around late March, or the first week of April… they build their nest above the garage door, below the roof eave.  Sometimes it’s a little messy, and they can be a little pesky when they are rearing their young, but they also are neat to see fly and have around for eating insects.  Last year they would swoop after the cats.   All in all- they offer more by being here…  I wonder when the Hummingbirds will return?  Stay tuned, I’ll post when they show up!

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