Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Bloodroot sprouts just starting to open
Today is the last day of the year. Time to reflect on the old and hope for the new. 2009 has brought many, many good things. New friendships, renewed friendships, new family members, new opportunities, new life birds, mammals, herps, insects, plants and fungi. What all will 2010 bring?

Bloodroot-I always look forward to seeing it bloom in early spring
I think that is why I like spring so much. So much promise. Everything that looks dead and lifeless is suddenly renewed. Beneath a carpet of crumbled, dry brown leaves emerges fresh green leaves and tender blossoms. Each tightly wrapped sprout that pushes through the ground and gloriously unfurls is an affirmation of life itself.

Ohio Buckeye bud
2010 is at the surface, just about to burst forth. One can choose to wander aimlessly through life and miss it all or one can eagerly await it and drink every moment of it in. I have decided this year to choose the latter.
Ohio Buckeye, when first opening, looks almost like a flower
Here is wishing all my readers a year full of beauty, wonder and joy! Don't let it pass you by.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Northern Bobwhites

About a week ago, we had some visitors in our birdfeeding area at Southeastway Park. Four adorable Northern Bobwhites!

Two male and two female Northern Bobwhites, Colinus virginianus, visited our bird feeding area and hung out for a couple days. We have heard them call a few different times in the last couple of years, their classic "Bob-white"call announcing their presence. Once, we spotted them scurrying into the grasses near the wetland. This is the first time we had a opportunity to really look at and study them. There are three of the four in this photo.

Our birdfeeding area has lots of native grasses and wildflowers for cover and natural food. They seemed to enjoy scratching around in the grasses under the bird feeders. This male is all puffed out perched up on the log.
Here is a better shot of the male. The male Northern Bobwhites have a white eye-stripe and throat patch, while the females are more buffy. There has been a documented case where a female has expressed male plumage, but this seems to be an anomaly.
Here is a nice back shot that would make Dave Lewis proud. (His site features birds' backsides because they always take off when he is trying to get a shot.) I love the pattern on the Northern Bobwhite's back. This helps it blend in with the dead leaves and grasses.

I am utterly amazed at how well their camouflage works. Can you see all three Bobwhites? The male in the center stands out, but the one in the bottom right corner is a little hidden and the one near the top blends into the background.

They are also quite adept at hunkering down. This one is hidden in a clump of grass about a foot in width and six inches high. Do you see him?

How about now?! Right there in the center of the grass are the white horizontal stripes of its face. From the bird window, I could not tell where he was hiding, but could spot him after I looked at the picture on my computer screen.
Northen Bobwhites are found year round in Indiana and neighboring states. They are just a bit tricky to observe due to their cryptic plumage and habits!