Northern Cardinal

I have three photos and three little stories or thoughts for you today. It all accumulated during this week as much as the snow did here on the bluffs above the Little Maquoketa River Valley.

All three pictures were made in the ‘backyard studio’, which means around the house. I did a “mini class” on bird photography with speed light during our “flash workshop” at the last meeting of the Dubuque Camera Club. However, no flash was used to boost colors this time because the giant reflector, called ‘snow’, took over this function. I was really happy to see some great results on social media of other photographers who applied some of the ideas I taught to their own photography (John Leicht, you are on the right track!).

This Northern Cardinal is part of the gang, joining us every morning and evening. Not a great gesture, but look at the shaft of light that hits this fellow during sunset time…

Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker (hybrid?)

I have photographed this guy before. Usually male Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers have a  deep black mustache but this must be a hybrid between a red-shafted (hence the red mustache) and the yellow shafted Northern Flicker (hence the yellow undertail). Not really uncommon, but the line where both races overlap is usually much further west. Any thoughts from other birders about this topic are more than welcome.

American Robin

When I moved to this country almost 15 years ago and started to learn about the birds of North America I quite often heard, the American Robin migrates and we don’t see them here in this part of the Midwest during the winter. The reappearance in March, or even April, was celebrated as a sure sign of spring by many people. I thought this was true for a long time, but during the last 4-5 years I have always seen American Robins during the winter. This season, now with temperatures way below 0ºF (-16ºC), the robins still come to the water sources we provide. A bird will show up only at feeders if either food, water, and/or exceptional safety are nearby. In case of the robins, they don’t eat really any of the food we provide. Ones in a great while I see an American Robin feeding on a suet feeder that we have out there for the woodpeckers. What draws them in is the abundance of juniper berries from the Red Cedars that grow on the limestone bluffs above the valley here. I guess this kind of food must make them very thirsty…. I refilled both of our bird baths with more than a gallon of water (2x 3.87 liters) today. Sure, part of it is the low humidity, letting the water evaporate more quickly, but it is amazing how much liquid these birds can consume within a short period of time.