Change Of Plans

January 06, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

My worlds of photographing wildlife and helping wildlife collided last Sunday morning.  I had my gear set up for bird photography and planed to trek into the woods early. 

After waking, I sat around long enough to get lazy and didn't even leave the house until late morning.  That's ok when photographing birds because they tend to be seen throughout the winter day when the temperatures are warmer.

My delay and choice of roads may have been very lucky for one little male Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Male)Red-bellied Woodpecker (Male)Adult male: entire crown, from bill to nape, is red; there is a suffusion of pink or red on the center of the belly.

Adult female: red on the head is limited to nasal tufts (just above the bill) and nape; wash of color on the belly is paler, less extensive
While driving, I saw red movement in a sloppy, iced up, pile of debris plowed to the side of the road by the snowplows.  I stopped to investigate.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker was mixed up in the mess.  He was alert but not healthy enough to move.  With his condition and the rain and snow and below zero temperatures coming, I couldn't leave him there.  I picked him up and placed him into an open box.  With him still clinging to one of my gloves, I drove about 25 miles to a wildlife rehabilitation center called "Skye’s Spirit Wildlife Rehabilitation Center" where, on their website, they proudly display the words "Where Wildlife Gets A Second Chance".  As of this writing, I don't have a status of its health but I know he has been given great care and opportunity to recover.

Now it was close to 12 noon and I still haven't picked up my camera.  I stopped at Jennings Nature Reserve which is about 15 miles from my home.  Jennings is one of the few places in the state where the endangered massasauga rattlesnake is found.  It favors the Wildflowers and grasses of the 20-acre prairie ecosystem but, in warm weather, if you stay on the mowed trails through the prairie, you won't be harmed.

I ventured into Big Run Valley which contains a large swampy area which used to be home to a beaver dam.  This day, I really enjoyed my time in the valley because the summer can be painful as the mosquitos and other insects find us to be a delicacy.  The Big Run Valley is also home to numerous rat snakes.  In case you didn’t know… I really try to avoid snakes.

I could hear several woodpeckers working hard in the valley.  As a matter of fact, I saw two Pileated Woodpeckers fly over leaving an unrecorded memory.   The valley and surrounding mixed hardwood and pine forest are also home, and breeding ground, to the Barred Owl.  Today, I didn’t hear their call resembling, in English, “Who cooks for you?  Who cooks for you-all?“.

My first photographic encounter was a seldom seen Brown Creeper.  The Brown Creeper starts at the base of a tree (it seems to favor larger trees) and circles upward looking for insects.  Notice the long claws for a good grip and long curved bill used to dig invertebrates out of the bark.

Brown CreeperBrown Creeper

Brown Creeper

 

When a Brown Creeper is frightened, it will freeze and flatten itself against the tree trunk making itself more difficult to see.  This Brown Creeper wasn't afraid of me because I wasn't very close.  However, you can see in the next photo how well it blends into the bark even while it's circling the tree.

Brown CreeperBrown Creeper

Brown Creeper

 

As I said earlier, there were numerous sounds of woodpeckers in the valley.  Here is a female Red-bellied Woodpecker taking off from a tree. Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)

 

Anyone who feeds birds and/or watches birds is familiar with the Black-capped Chickadee.  They are frequent visitors at backyard feeders and the friendly little birds can even be persuaded to take food from your hand.  I found several Black-capped Chickadees ripping apart the seeded tops of cattails.  I've posted several photos of Black-capped Chickadees on here and in my Chickadee gallery, but these shots offer a different perspective of these universally “cute” birds.

Black-capped ChickadeeBlack-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

 

Black-capped ChickadeeBlack-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

 

As I was hiking back up the hills through the forest, I heard the familiar high-pitched, thin whistle of the Golden-crowned Kinglet.  The male Golden-crowned Kinglet has a yellow and red crown while the female only has a yellow crown.  I can see a portion of red in the crown of this bird so I tend to believe it is a male.

Golden-crowned KingletGolden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

Golden-crowned KingletGolden-crowned Kinglet Golden-crowned Kinglet 

 

Thanks for looking and check back soon.

Dan


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