Monday, December 31, 2012

Oatka Creek Park • December 31

Winter Wren. The snowpack is still in the vicinity of a foot deep along the unbroken portions of the trails in Oatka. This means food is a bit harder to find for foragers like the resident Winter Wren along the creek. However, it is still hanging in there and broke the silence to pop up in front of me for a brief photo-op.

Winter Wren. Actually, there were two Winter Wrens along the creek today. This one and one about a half mile away by the bridge.

Golden-crowned Kinglet. On my way back across the bridge over the creek, excited chip notes over my head drew my eyes to the willow tree that partially hangs over the northern end of the bridge. A pair of kinglets worked the branches for morsels of food and gave me an excellent photo-op for these always moving birds. Look at the feet of this bird: they are yellow! I never knew kinglet feet were yellow. To be sure, the only way you might know is with a picture like this as they probably wouldn't sit still long enough in the field for you to get a good look at their feet.

Golden-crowned Kinglet. Checking the field guides to learn more about the color of kinglet feet, Sibley does the best job of illustrating them, though no mention is made in the text. Kaufman's pictures do a fair job of showing the yellow feet, and Peterson (6th edition) has a rare lapse in accuracy with a painting that shows black feet. Crossley's otherwise magnificent pictures do a surprisingly poor job with the feet, though it wins a prize for the mention of "orange feet" in its text.

Golden-crowned Kinglet. Cornell's Birds of North America provide the terse description of "Legs And Feet: Tarsus [leg] long, slender, smooth, and booted (Roberts 1955, Gabrielson and Lincoln 1959). Tarsi and feet dark brown with yellow on soles of feet and lower rear of tarsi (Paulsen 1993)." The pictures here seem to show more than just the soles of the feet and lower rear legs being yellow, though the description of the feet appearing to be in boots seems spot on!

Golden-crowned Kinglet. It is nice to get a bit of blue sky in the middle of a usually cloud locked Great Lakes winter!