Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Indigo Bunting

All puffed up and of no mind to endure trespassers, this Indigo Bunting stood his ground along the Ozaukee Interurban Trail in Mequon. It was an hour after sunrise on the 4th of July and he was guarding his small patch of woody, swampy land called home.

The peace and pace of the early morning was about to change though. I doubt he understood how or when.

Fireworks were in his future.

Try to imagine the stresses a bird feels shortly after retiring for the night when fireworks start exploding.

The sun goes down... fireworks go up?

The fireworks came later.

For now, he faces a more immediate challenge. Looking southward down the bike trail he sees bicycles heading his way.

The holiday brings bike traffic ten times its normal rate passing through his home territory.

His stress level is rising.

To my knowledge an Indigo Bunting has been at this corner of the bike trail since at least 2012. I can't say this beautiful bunting is that same bird, but it could be. The oldest recorded Indigo Bunting was 13 years and 3 months old when banded and recaptured in Ohio.

The Fourth of July is a stressful time for many animals. Many household pets try to hide from fireworks noise.

But where does a bird go to get away?

He can turn his indigo back to the problem, maybe, but that is about all he can do.


Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Scarlet Tanager

A Scarlet Tanager strikes an impressive pose in the darker reaches of the forest. It's as if he knows he's something special...a stand-out.

Granted, Scarlet Tanagers are not your everyday Wisconsin bird, so he deserves some bragging rights.

Sheltering from the rain, he scans the canopy for something to eat.

He must be cognizant he's vulnerable to predation himself...a bright red bird in the forest has no place to hide.

Food is a priority for all forest dwellers. Scarlet Tanagers eat mostly small insects and invertebrates. Today is this Scarlet Tanager's lucky day.

A well-camouflaged hornworm munches the foliage in the upper left corner of this picture. He is about to become the Scarlet Tanager's next meal.

Somewhat perplexed by the size of this huge meal, he stares at it in understandable amazement.

Too large to be swallowed whole, he first reduces it to a manageable consistency.

Repeatedly pressing it into the branch he's standing on makes, what you might call, a blender-meal.

By late summer, Scarlet Tanagers migrate to South America for the winter. Your best chance to see one yet this year is in larger sections of deciduous forests. They move around in the treetops so you may have some difficulty, although a bright red bird in the forest shouldn't be that hard to spot, even for a casual birder.

Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds

Friday, July 1, 2016

House Wrens w/babies

Insuring baby's health and happiness is a toiling task for House Wrens parents, who only weigh 0.4 ounce themselves. Delivering the 'groceries' for two chicks is full-time work.

Insects are the preferred meal for raising baby songbirds. Almost always hungry, they will grow fast on this high protein diet.

Food gathering continues from dawn to dusk. Spending only enough time for a down-the-throat feeding, the parent quickly departs to avoid attracting attention at the nest.

It is hard to quantify the benefit of birds for the average sized garden.

But, with dozens of insects gleaned daily from your garden, imagine the damage NOT inflicted on your vegetables and flowers.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

If you are not fond of spiders and flies consider the options of making your garden bird-friendly. One bird family equals fewer insects...two bird families, fewer still and so on.

Babies score one mouthful at a time as your garden becomes pest free with these all-day, everyday feedings.

Birds may be a the best pest management system you'll ever find.