A Dog and his Deer: Best Buds

Dog and Fawn

We’ve all seen commercials and videos recently of interesting animal buddies, but today was the first time I witnessed a doggie/deer combo myself. Although I frequent this back road often, looking for birds, I’ve never seen a dog running around loose. And this one was accompanied by a young deer. They sauntered down the middle of the road, checking out a mailbox, the dog sniffing the post and the deer licking the rusty latch. Next they stop for a little affection, sniffing and giving little animal kisses. Awww!! After sealing […]

Pine Siskins

Pine Siskin

Siskins are Sassy! Their needle-sharp beaks and quick movements are good for two things: for eating you out of house and home, and for fighting off each other and their rivals at the thistle feeder. Not seen every year, these finches have an irruption year when food is scarce in the north where they usually winter. When they do show up, they come in big numbers and can easily go through 25-pound bags of “black gold” or thistle seed, although they will eat sunflower seeds also. Besides their high-pitched twittering, Pine […]

How do birds find enough to eat in the winter? The Horned Lark Story

Horned Lark

How do birds find enough to eat in the winter? They are very resourceful, even though there may be a thick blanket of snow on the ground.  Discovering how Horned Larks find food in the winter is both entertaining and amazing. They are ground nesters and foragers, thus a good example of adapting to the environment in difficult winters. All about Birds says this about Horned Larks: Look carefully at a bare, brown field, especially in winter, and you may be surprised to see it crawling with little brown shapes. When they […]

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

The Rough-legged Hawk, a gorgeous raptor which breeds in the Artic, comes south in the winter through Canada to stay in much of the U.S. in order to find food. We see them here in rural Central PA towards the middle of winter, in good numbers. They are also found in Asia, Europe and Greenland unlike our other buteos. Their feet are covered with feathers, hence the name “Rough-legged.” Rough-leggeds have two color morphs, light and dark, and are strikingly patterned. There are also differences according to age and sex. The bird pictured […]

Winter Birding

Ring-necked Pheasant

The sun finally came out this morning in rural Central Pa, so I braved the crazy 4 degrees with ear muffs, hand warmers, gloves, heavy coat and boots, and went birding! For four hours!! With the bright snow and the intense sunlight, I was less than happy with the umpteen pictures I took, but it was still fun. I put the seat warmer on, put the window down so I could hear the Horned Larks flying over the fields, and drove the back roads. This is winter road birding at […]

Northern Harrier–The Gray Ghost

Northern Harrier

Gray Ghost, male Northern Harrier, Marsh Hawk; all names of this unique hawk which hunts low over open ground or marsh. Long and slender, with wings often held in a dihedral or V-shape, its flat head makes it look something like an owl when it flies. Another owl-like feature is a facial disk which aids the hawk in hearing rodents below in the grasses. This is seen more easily in the female whose plumage is very different from the male, with its dark brown back and heavily streaked under-wings. Both […]

Bald Eagles at Conowingo Dam

Bald Eagle

  Photographing eagles at Conowingo Dam along the Susquehanna River in Maryland, has to be one of the most thrilling experiences of a photographer’s life. At least it is, if the eagles are there! There are no guarantees that they will show up in big numbers, or that they will be active for more than a few minutes every hour or two, but when conditions are right, the sound of thousands of camera shutters going off continuously can really raise one’s adrenaline! From early November to the end of December […]

Eurasian Wigeons and American Wigeons: Contentious Cousins

Eurasian Wigeon

The Eurasian Wigeon which breeds in Iceland, Europe, and Asia, is a common visitor to America, and is a handsome bird with its rufous head and pinkish breast.  It shares some characteristics with its American cousin, the “Baldpate,” such as the cream-colored crown, white shoulder patch, and black at the back end. As stated in Audubon birds, The Eurasian Wigeon is usually found associating with flocks of its American counterpart. Like the American Wigeon, this species is unorthodox in its feeding habits: It spends much of its time grazing on land like […]

Forster’s Tern

Forster's Terns

The Forster’s Tern is a beauty, unique among the terns in winter with its black eye patch rather than a cap or crown. It’s also the only tern which lives almost entirely in North America. On a recent visit to Cape May, NJ, we came upon these beautiful birds vying for a spot on the railing of a dock. Forester’s Terns feed on fish, small crustaceans, frogs, and mollusks. They often hover before plunge-diving into the water after prey. In the East they prefer salt water marshes, and in the […]

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s sparrows are always a treat to see in fall migration in Pennsylvania.  Their finely streaked sides and breast, along with their buffy malar stripe and upper breast, an eye ring, and white throat and belly all combine to make for one handsome bird. s This fall I discovered some wonderful habitat for migrating sparrows and warblers.  At the bottom of a private lane of a neighbor, where field, prairie (shrubby grassland), and deep woods converge; dozens, if not hundreds of mostly sparrows are often found in the grasses, multiflora […]