Thursday, March 6, 2014

Batavia, Avon, and Bloomfield • March 6

Snowy Owl. As a kind of a last hurrah of winter birding, my friend Dana Kalir and I spend this afternoon in a big car-based bird photography trip that started by the Genesee County Airport in Batavia. There we found this Snowy Owl hunkered down in a field.

Snowy Owl. There are now indications that the Snowy Owls are beginning their northward journey back to the Arctic tundra.

Snowy Owl. It has certainly been a memorable invasion year!

Horned Lark. We next headed to Avon where we found several small groups of Horned Larks.

Horned Lark. These birds will also be heading back up to the upper reaches of Canada to breed. Their numbers in our area have noticeably dropped of late, so that movement north may already be started.

Horned Lark. This bird is lacking the distinctive "horn" feathers, which indicates this is a female.

Horned Lark. These birds feed on the leftover corn kernels in the harvested fields, like the one in this birds' bill.

American Kestrel. Just before leaving Avon we spotted this gorgeous falcon on the power lines along the road. I took this shot through the windshield because these birds are notorious of flying off if you stop your car by them.

American Kestrel. The kestrel is the smallest of America's falcons, though what it lacks in size it makes up for in fiercest! Normally this bird eats insects, like grasshoppers. However, this time of year small rodents (mice and voles) and small songbirds are on the menu.

American Kestrel. Unfortunately for this small bird of prey, it can be preyed upon by Red-tailed Hawks, American Crows, and Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks. Still, it is America's most common and widespread falcon.

Afterwards we headed to Taft and Sand Roads in Bloomfield to look for Short-eared Owls. Unfortunately, no owls appeared. Perhaps they, too, are beginning their movement back up to Canada for the oncoming nesting season.