Tag Archives: Peterson

Sparrow with Bluebell

The proper identification of this red-headed or rusty-headed bird continues to churn me, not only in my daylight hours, but also as I lie awake at night.  For the moment, the species identification includes: Rufous-winged Sparrow, Field Sparrow, immature White-crowned Sparrow.  (Probably another possibility looms in the Peterson’s.)  Factor analysis must wait, however, until I get some chores out of the way today. I will, however, cease all toil if I see these guys again so I can focus.  Thanks to Caralee, Rubia, Montucky and others that have further focused my attention on identification.

Here is a closeup of the Bluebell bell flower.  I discovered a patch thirty-by-twenty feet in size, east of the barn.  Walked right over the patch without noticing at first, saw this flower, bent down and looked around and there was the patch of bell flowers.  I wanted to get a closeup of the flower, so here it is.  I have seen field biologists on their hands and knees with a camera, snapping pictures.  Since I have this goal of taking pictures of every species of wildflower on the ranchito for one year, I best start kneeling with knee pads on?

Below is a wide shot of the Bluebell bell flower patch I discovered.  As you can see, the flowers are quite small, barely discernible in the photo as they are in the field.  You will have to click on the photograph to enlarge in order to see the flowers.  Looks like a lawn of sorts, but it is not.

I am off to the barn and field. I will be looking for the sparrow and flowers. The sun is shining and the temperatures are forecast in the upper 70s, lower 80s.  I shall pace myself.

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Filed under Birds, Flowers of Flying Hat

Yes, I know it’s a sparrow, but what kind?

Of course you know how it all starts out. Going to do one thing, then end up doing another! The rain ceased today, this morning actually, and I walked to the pond the see if it was overflowing (it was, but that’s another post). As I walked by the brush pile I had stacked for several years, I saw these birds flitting in the old mesquite stems and thorns. I thought: Ah, more white-crowned sparrows. I know you. I see you all the time.

Wrong.  I got back to the house, downloaded or uploaded the pics and they aren’t white-crowned, they have rufous coloring on their top.  How did I see white in the field?  Okay, I was mistaken.  Not the first time, nor the last.  Fair enough, I go to the Peterson’s.  There are several species of sparrows!  I knew that, but what rufous is it?  Ruffous-crowned, Ruffous-winged?  I finally broke down and went to the photo editor that I have, the Hewlett-Packard all-encompassing uber-editor to enlarge the photo and get some closer definition of attributes.  I take photographs with the full pixel rating: seven, eight megabytes of pixels so I can enlarge and view detail.  Yes, I know.  I am running out of space on my desktop after three years of blogging.  And, this is what I enlarged:


I go back and forth in my Peterson’s looking at all the sparrows, even the larks for goodness sakes. Tail is rounded, mustache? What’s a mustache on a bird?  I go to my Audubon field guide, but it does not even list any rufous sparrows. Oh, it’s an eastern region Audubon.  Figure that, will you?

I getting really frustrated not finding any attribute that is a definite signature until I look at the beak.  The beak.  It’s pink or brownish and the identity is finally achieved.  It is a Field sparrow with rusty cap, pink bill — a Spizella pusillad.*  It’s note is a tsee, having a ‘querulous’ quality.  Thanks to Peterson’s, I am relieved of puzzlement and doubt.

Starting out to check the pond, I end up spending time identifying a bird.  You know, the one with a pink beak and querulous quality to its note.

*Notes, corrections and additions:

For possible error in identity, please see the comments from Caralee and Rubia below.  The link provided by Caralee shows the Rufous-winged Sparrow in several colored photographs that correspond to my photographs of a ‘Field sparrow.’  A factor analysis is in progress to resolve identity.

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Filed under Birds, Field Sparrow

Meadow lark with morning sun

Early morning landing.

Early this morning as I walked down the road to feed Star, I saw these meadow larks (Sturnella neglecta) sunning on the barbed wire fence between the house and arena pasture.  I walked quickly back up to the house, grabbed my camera and took a few shots.  The larks are skittish and I did not get close, but I edited the ‘Early morning landing’ above as the sunlight pierced the feathers, creating an illumination that I saw only when I enlarged the picture.  Fascinating.

The photograph below captures the small flock on the fence.  When I came back to the house after feeding Star I looked out the front window and saw that the flock (or another group) had come around to the front of the house and was feasting on insects and seeds on the front lawn.  You can click on the ‘Larks on barbed wire’ below and obtain a larger image.  I did not get a picture of the flock at the front of the house.

Larks on barbed wire.

I have noted that birds are singing more here at the ranchito since the weather has warmed and rains have come.  I saw my first Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) a few days ago perched on a T-post beside the road to the barn.  I have a goal to photograph the bluebird this year.  I have seen as many as eleven bluebirds bathing in the runoff water from the horse trough.

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Notes, corrections and additions:

To disclose my identification of the ‘meadow larks’ above, I have to add that my confidence in typing the above birds as meadow lark is fairly high, but with a bit of doubt about western or eastern.  When I got the Peterson’s guide open and starting reading about the meadow lark, there are at least two varieties, western and eastern, and I will have to look closer for the signature attributes.  The white edges on the tail (seen in the first photograph) are specific signatures for the western variety, so I go with that identification.  Besides, this is west Texas. 

I will look again in the morning at the flock, pending their reappearance.

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Walking with Great Blue Herons

The grove peninsula. This is one of several peninsulas formed by the meandering Salt Creek (December 2011).

Blue Heron tracks along a still pool of water in Salt Creek (December 2011).

I walked in the grove this morning.  Several peninsulas emerge in the grove, cut by the swift and long-flowing water of Salt Creek.  Upon purchasing Flying Hat Ranchito eight-years ago, I found a red metal chair on the peninsula I photographed, a solitary chair for the previous owner to muse, observe or rest.  I took the chair off the peninsula.

Wet and cold the air, I saw track of the Great Blue Heron that frequents the creek that meanders among the elm, oak and juniper.  I see one or two of them each day flying to the cow tanks about the ranchito.  The heron track I identified with my Peterson’s field guide to animal tracks, a new third edition I purchased when Border’s went out of business in Fort Worth.

I was not alone as I walked in the grove.  The Great Blue Heron — past and present — walked with me in the grove today.

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Filed under Birds, Great Blue Heron, Juniper, Life in Balance

Ducks returning to pond

These ducks swim away, making no noise at all (North Erath County, Texas, October 21, 2011).

This morning I was surprised.  I drove the F-150 to the grove gate to close it, so as to keep my gelding, Star, from going into the far pasture and gorging himself on new-growth grass.  As I passed by the pond, I saw these ducks.  Many of you see ducks all the time, but here in North Erath County, Texas, ducks are uncommon until November or December.  These ducks made no quacking whatsoever.  They plunged into the pond for feeding.  I returned about two hours later and took some photographs.

In one of my earlier posts about the American Widgeon, I and my blogging friends spent time identifying the ducks.  These guys in the photographs are unidentified.  My Peterson’s guide was chewed up by my dog, Yeller, and I have yet to replace it.  My Audubon field guide does not have flying profiles or additional attributes for me to say for certain what these ducks are.  So, the ducks will be unidentified until I get my Peterson’s guide book re-ordered.

In any case, the ducks have returned to the pond.  Can cooler weather and winter days be far behind?  The ducks say, No, it’s not far behind!

Ducks in flight (North Erath County, Texas, October 21, 2011).

 

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Filed under Ducks