December 29, 2009

Feeder Watching and Christmas Bird Counting

With all of the snow recently, going out birding is a bit impractical since most good birding spots are along gravel roads which do not get plowed to often. Instead of risking my life on the hazardous roads I have just been doing some birding around my home and have found some nice birds recently. The best was the Tufted Titmouse which is a rare bird where I live. To read more about it go to this link which is to a past blog post about the bird:
A lot of birds have been drawn to the feeders because of the storm including Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, and Brown-headed Cowbird. I wouldn't be surprised if a Rusty Blackbird showed up but none have visited yet.
An American Tree Sparrow (the first at the feeders this winter) was feeding with the juncos this morning. One of the juncos was cooperative enough for me to get a nice picture of it.

Away from the feeders in the yard I saw some pheasant tracks. This was the first time I have proof that there was a pheasant in my yard. I have found feathers before but they may have blown in from somewhere else.

Before the storm I saw 32 Eurasian-collared Doves in the neighbor's tree. Not all birds are in the photo but it gives you a good idea of how many there were .Also before the storm I went on the Sioux City CBC. I wasn't out long since I had some other things to do that day but we did pick up 25 or so species including the Northern Shrike below.
This Eastern Cottontail was also seen on the CBC and posed nicely for a picture.
I really don't have time to keep blogging today (I have somewhere to go) so I will have to call that good for now!

December 26, 2009

A Very White Christmas!

Twenty inches of snow and strong winds made Christmas 2009 one for the record books. The 8 inches that fell on Christmas day alone was the most that ever fell on Christmas day in Sioux City, IA. The three day snowfall total ended up putting this storm in the top 3 worst seen in Sioux City, IA ever. Combined with the other snowfall seen in December it was the snowiest on record with 30 inches of the white stuff.
The best present I received was the news that I am going to be an uncle next August!

December 17, 2009

The Cleaners of Walmart

My dad and I saw these two tagged crows at a Walmart here in Iowa. One of the crows which was eating something nasty looking in the parking lot had the letters CW on it's tag which we said meant a Cleaner of Walmart! We later came to find out that they were part of a biology study being done at a local college.

December 16, 2009

What in the world is this?

That is exactly what I asked myself when I saw this arachnid sitting on the ground at our campsite one night at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Thanks to Internet I was able to in the matter of minutes find out that this was a spider in the genus Eremobates. These are ground dwelling spiders of the west that most often come out at night. I learned on Wikipedia that these spiders have the largest jaw size to body ratio of any creature! So next time you are out at night in the west keep your eyes on the ground to see if you can spot any of these fascinating creepy creatures for yourself.

December 10, 2009

Butterfly Laying an Egg!

There is an ANGRY MOB in My Yard!!!

Hopefully that title got your attention. Today while out in my yard I noticed a large group of birds (particularly the Blue Jays) looking at one particular hole in a tree and after doing so they would fly away calling as loudly as they could. I figured there was an Eastern Screech-Owl in the tree and when I went up there it was no surpise that one immediately flew out. I followed the angry mob of birds through my yard and caught up once again with the owl and got a photo of it hissing at the other birds! It is not every day that you get to see such interactions between birds.

Short-eared Owl in B&W

This is just one of the 13 Short-eared Owls I a few nights ago! I also saw two Great Horned Owls which makes 15 total owls. We had the same number of owls as we had number of species. The photo was done in black and white to give it the feel of a cold December night. I love especially that you can see snow falling in the photo. I saw eight with one leaft to right move of the binoculars!

Snow and Birds!

The past couple of days have been rough weather-wise in the Midwest. Where I live 10 inches of snow fell, winds got over 50 mph, and temps dropped to ten below last night. Thankfully things have improved a bit today. A couple birds have been drawn into the feeders such as Brown-headed Cowbirds and the Tufted Titmouse which both have been absent for a while. I went out to photograph the titmouse this morning (which is rare in NW Iowa) but didn't get a photo of it but I did get a photo of both a Blue Jay (my first nice one of this species) and a House Sparrow both of which turned out excellent! I have not been posting on my blog much lately because I can more quickly and easily put stuff on flickr than on blogger. To see some of my photos on flickr go to: