Monday, June 6, 2011

Grassland Birds at the Airport

I was driving home from Illinois Sunday evening, following I-70, and managed to overshoot my exit by quite a bit. I saw the exit for the Mt. Comfort Airport (Now called the Indianapolis Regional Airport) and remembered a post on IN-bird from Don Gorney about Upland Sandpipers a few days ago. So, to take great advantage of a unfortunate mistake, I decided to give Don a ring and ask him where I was most likely to see them. I am so glad I missed my exit!

Since I was at an airport, even though it was a small one, I was a bit nervous about taking photos. And the birds were a bit too far away to get anything worth showing anyway, so I am going to use good old Wikipedia for the photos. Hope you all don't mind too much :)

Upland Sandpiper, photo from Wikipedia

So here is the star of the show, the Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda.  I was able to get great looks at three of them, all out in the open at the same time. I also was treated to their wolf whistle call, "Wheet-woo". It always makes me laugh. :) Upland Sandpiper is a state-endangered bird for Indiana.

Savannah Sparrow, photo from Wikipedia

I soon heard the "Take it easy" song of the Savannah Sparrow. Such a pretty sparrow, with its pink legs, yellow lores and speckled breast. I had one right behind my car, not more than 8 feet away. Beautiful! I found a few more during my visit.

Eastern Meadowlark, photo from Wikipedia 

I found about 10 Eastern Meadowlarks scattered about the property. Some were perching on fences, others were flying about and quickly disappearing into the grass. Their brilliant yellow chest with the deep black "V" really stood out in the evening sun.

Horned Lark, photo from Wikipedia

There were two Horned Larks taking a dust bath on the road. They were preening their feathers and tossing about the dust from the road. Many birds use dust baths to help reduce avian parasites, like lice.

Dickcissel, photo from Wikipedia

I heard a sound behind me and turned to see a favorite grassland bird. "Dic-dic-sizzle, sizzle" called a handsome male Dickcissel which was perched up on the fence. I watched him sing for a long while, happily soaking it all in.

Bobolink, photo from Wikipedia

A few birds flew overhead and called. Bobolinks! I love their bubbly call, like a miniature R2D2 from Star Wars. "Spink-spank-spink"! They dove into the grass and disappeared from sight.

I love when I make a mistake and end up with a good result. What a nice ending to the weekend!



lildoppler said...

What was the habitat like where you saw them? Did the airport have any warm season grass/forb plantings or were the birds just in a manicured green area? Curious about what pops up at airports and their habitats.

Janet Creamer said...

Some of the areas had grasses that had grown up. Not really any plantings.