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My main blog; has many other pictures of birds and other wildlife.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron has always been a fascinating bird to me.  I do not like them invading my favorite fishing areas, but they are such a beautiful graceful bird in flight.  Their colors change with the season and are always beautiful.  Here a young one flies along the shore of Henrys Lake.

Several years ago this one speered a catfish and wore it for at least two days.

Here a young one hunts for minnow in the shallows.

This adult is chasing a rodent in a stubble field near Rexburg, but did not catch it.

Just another year around resident bird of Madison County.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

White-faced Ibis

 This year with all the flooding and high water, the White-faced ibis has invaded Madison County.  Flooded fields and pastures that have never been available for these birds to feed in still have water standing in them.  These create new feeding area for the long billed birds looking for worms and snails to feed on. 

Here a flock of ibis fly into a flooded pasture to look for food.

They are not really black, but their iridescent body and wing feathers are set off by a rusty brown back.

Flocks of over 300 would gather in fields and pastures.

Their long sensitive bill probes the flooded ground looking for lunch.  Here one finds a snail.  The trick is to get their food from the end of a six to eight inch bill into its throat.  Practice makes perfect.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Long-billed curlews of Madison County

Shore  birds and wading birds have always been a challenge for me to identify.  They all look the same except for their bills and sometimes I forget which way they should turn. 

The Long-billed curlew is one I have always been able to identify as the bill, flight and sounds were common to me when growing up.  Here three migrating curlews are displaying during breeding season.

They show up in Madison County in April as they search the muddy fields and marshes for worms; their probbing bills searching the soft ground. 

By the first of June, those that have raise young here are teaching them to fly, eat and protect themselves.

A rather large bird, but usually a shy and ellusive one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Red-napped Sapsucker

Madison County has had high water and many of the areas I love to bird is still not available.  But today I was able to get a picture of a Red-napped Sapsucker and will try to get some more, but for now I will use some old pictures of these beautiful birds for the Madison County bird this week.

Here a sapsucker is looking for a hollow tree to drill a nest in

To feed, the sapsuckers drill series of holes in the bark of trees.  When the holes fill up with sap and insects, they feed on them.  Each visit, they will drill another row of holes to collect the sap.

They will use any type of tree that will produce a lot of sap.

Another great bird that are summer residents of Madison County, Idaho.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Western Tanagers attack oranges

Oranges attract orange and yellow and red as fruit eating birds fill my backyard when I put out this sweet fruit.  One of the most colorful birds I enjoy at my feeder trees are the Western Tanagers.  I like them and they seem to like me.
Usually the first to appear are flocks of males where they fight and sqabble over the oranges and orange flavored suet cakes.

Individual birds prefer different food.  Some fight over a certain orange half while others perfer the suet.  Here you can see the tongue of this male savoring the sweet juice of the orange.

The females are a lot less colorful and come in a couple of days later than the males.

They seem to enjoy the oranges more than the suet and prefer to perch above the fruit to eat.

Many times they will not land on the suet to eat, but will fly to it and sally there until they get a piece.  Then they will fly to a branch to eat and clean off their bill by rubbing it on the bark.

I love trying to catch them in flight as they eat and put on a show for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bullock's Orioles return to Madison County

They are the ultimate sweet-toothed or billed bird of the kingdom.  Put out a halved orange or orange flavored suet cakes and they will find them.  The Bullock's Oriole is one of the most sleek, beautiful birds that come to Madison County.  The males range from a deep yellow to a brilliant orange.

The females are fairly subdued in color, but their funny little habits make them fun to watch.

Suet cakes, oranges and even the hummingbird feeders are emptied by these beautiful birds when they show up in flocks.

The male has a "playground" voice which is loud and very recognizable, but it very shy while feeding.  To get good pictures, a blind is almost necessary.

Thank goodness for long legs.  This gal uses them to her advantage.  I noticed that it was a habit for most of the females to keep at least one foot on the tree while feeding - most of the time.  I did catch one hanging on the lip of the cut orange while feeding.

I have wasted a lot of time watching and photographing these lovely birds from my blind. But I guess I could have wasted my time in different pursuits.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Evening Grosbeaks visit my backyard

A flash of yellow and black with a pale blue bill, the male Evening Grosbeak is always welcome in my backyard.  What a wonderful birds as they chirp in the trees above my blind.  Soon he lands on a branch and appears to be wondering what a big black eye is peering at him.

It is amazing to me that their eyes do not move, so they have to turn their head sideways to look at you.  Soon the male is joined by four females.  Not as colorful, but still a beauty.

The male and one female joins Cassin's finch and House finch females at the table.

The male leaves the feeder and four females, two on each side start fighting over the sunflower seeds.  One gets knocked off the feeder by the agressive one.

In the meantime, Mr. Evening watches the show and knows soon instead of fighting for food, they will be fighting over him.  Hopefully these will be some that nest in Island Park, just a few miles north of Rexburg.

Until they leave, I will enjoy the shows and the colors in my backyard.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trumpeter Swan - year around residents of Madison County

The beautiful Trumpeter swan, once almost gone, is a common sight in Madison County.  In the winter from 400 to 600 of these graceful birds stay on the area rivers and nearby fields. 

When the snow starts to melt and ponds develop in the fields, others start migrating through the area.

A few will stay on area waterways,pairing up and building nests to raise their young. 

Some waters near Madison County is closed to all human activity to protect the nesting swan.

In the fall many of these huge birds will once again migrate for the North Country to invade our waterways to winter.

These royal birds inspire and entertain those of us that chose to be outside year around.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mountain Bluebirds of Madison County

I love the Mountain Bluebirds.  One of the first traditions I remember growing up in Teton  Valley was when the first Bluebird showed up, Mom would make us homemade donuts.  We called them Spudnuts, because they were made from water saved over from boiling potatoes.  It was the best springtime treat - almost as good as Christmas.

First the flocks of males would show up, staking out their territory.

The female join them about a week later and pick out a nesting place.  Boxes are great.

Then the courtship begins - the sly smiles and glances followed by "accidental" bumping and touching.  Finally full blown romance.

A few weeks later out in a near by tree are two offspring of the two sparkers.  It takes both parent full time to feed themselves and their "teen-agers."

Now being empty nesters, the Mom has time to primp and rearrange her feathers.  They split the nest and she was getting cleaned up for a date.

Mr. looked a little lost with her getting ready to go out - without him.  Happens all the time after a males luster fades.

Spring will come again next year and with it new romances and a new coat of brilliant blue duds.  Find a smile.

I know it is fiction, but it sure was fun.  They are still very beautiful and some of my favorites.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Red-breasted Mergansers

Most of the Red-breasted Mergansers have migrated north to nest, but a few remain in Madison County.  Hopefully some will nest here.  I love to watch their ability to move and dive in the water and air.  I never get tired of watching them.  Here two males and a female fly in as they migrate through the area in late March.

Here a male makes almost a splashless dive to look for food near the bottom of a canal.

After a dive, this female beats the water off her wings and back as she tries to dry off.  "Use a towel, lady."

This male almost bit off more than he could chew as he tries to swallow a crayfish that does not want to go down.  The crayfish lost and the bird had "lobster" for lunch.

A raft of Red-breasted Mergansers congregate to move to their nesting ground.

I hope they have a happy flight and make it back this fall and next spring.  My camera will be waiting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Common Loons - visitors to Madison County

Right now on a pond on the Teton River just outside Rexburg there are 14 Common Loons resting and eating.  What are they eating?  Mountain lobster locally know as Crayfish.  Here one surfaces with lunch.

Last week there were 26 to 22 of them working the pond as they rest and prepare to move northward.

It appears that they have already paired up.  Some will stop in Yellowstone Park where the following were pictured last summer.  They often swim around with their head under water searching for food.  Once food is found, they will dive and may spend at least two minutes under water.

They are a striking black and white with brilliant red eyes.

I will continue watching them until they all leave the area.  I wish some would stay and nest near Rexburg, but we do not have a large enough body of water to support them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Henrys Fork Audubon Society Meeting.

We just had our first Henrys Fork Audubon Society Meeting tonight.  It was like many organizational beginnings; small in numbers but large in dreams and enthusiasm.  It may have been the presenter - me - talking about sage and sharp-tailed grouse.  But we are determined to make a go of it.

Our next meeting will be May 26 with a field trip on May 21 at Camas National Wildlife Refuge.

In the meantime, this afternoon I enjoyed a few minutes watching a few birds in the high winds.  First was some Common Loons.  There are 14 on a pond on the Teton River just outside of Rexburg.

Forster's Terns just showed up in the last few days and the wind would carry them right over my hiding place.

 I will keep you posted on the upcoming activities on this blog about the Henrys Fork Audubon Society activities