Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oatka Creek Park • April 16

Sharp-lobed Hepatica. More early spring wildflowers! Yes, it was a rainy day. These flowers like the upper bank over the creek. I have found them nowhere else in the park.

Sharp-lobed Hepatica. Most of these flowers actually like the area just over the edge of a steep of the bank. One has to watch their footing when viewing these pretties, lest they end up in the water below!

Rusty Blackbird. Ah, the bird that started my whole bird photography hobby! Unlike most birds, I think the bronze fall plumage of the species is far more spectacular than the all-black mating plumage of the spring. (Of course, being shot in the rain doesn't help the picture, either.)

Rusty Blackbird. According to Cornell's Birds of North America, "The Rusty Blackbird, perhaps the least well known of North America’s blackbirds, breeds north to the tree line in wet forests of Alaska, Canada, and the northeastern United States. No other North American blackbird breeds as far north." Since this makes their breeding sites hard to get to, we don't have a good handle on the size of the breeding population, or how it is changing (or not changing) over time.

Rusty Blackbird. Birds of North America continues with "Also unlike other blackbirds, this species is seldom a nuisance depredating crops or at roosts." So, they are not the trouble makers grackles and crows can be. As a result, no one pays a lot of attention to them and, hence, they have not been studied very closely.

Rusty Blackbird. So, what studies of their population sizes do we have? We have Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) that suggest a marked decline in their numbers. However, Birds of North America is a bit circumspect of the CBC data. The most they will commit to is the need to pay closer attention to this species. Fair enough!

Species Seen
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
American Robin
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
American Goldfinch