Saturday, June 30, 2018

Crane country

Photos almost entirely by Jessa.

Redwings and cottonwood

Agelaius phoeniceus and Populus deltoides. Both widely distributed and commonplace, but personally evocative of early spring in central Nebraska.

All summer long, I see redwings as individual birds, mostly associated with cattails, but in early March they're a superorganism inhabiting cottonwoods.

[Photos by Jessa.]

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Rock-a-bye baby

Oriole nests remind me of the old nursery rhyme:

Rock-a-bye, baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Not the most reassuring of lullabies, if the poor kid is listening for content, but baby orioles, take heart: It would just about take the bough breaking to threaten the nest.

This one, almost certainly built by a Baltimore oriole—we also have Bullock's and orchard orioles in Nebraska (Ellie and I saw an orchard oriole at Nine-Mile Prairie just a couple of days ago), but this spot in the central PRV is the domain of Lord Baltimore—not only endured the raising of a brood but also the ravages of a Nebraska winter before Jessa or I made this picture in March. It looks like it could handle another nesting season, if orioles re-used nests.

I've been asked, on occasion, what's so fascinating about birds, and this would be a good answer to that question. I hereby challenge anyone asking it to replicate the female oriole's work: Weave a hanging basket of grass, cattail fluff, and other natural materials, suitable for the raising of three to seven tiny but rapidly growing dinosaur chicks, sturdy enough to withstand thousands or more likely tens of thousands of entries and exits by the parent dinosaurs, and capable of lasting through the following winter.

Without using your hands.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sexy sexy redheads

Redheads (Aythya americana), central Platte River Valley, March.

Jessa proposed "The Red-headed League", but after a three-month hiatus I went for clickbait instead.

Not going away

A while back, Chas Clifton posted about the supposed demise and apparent comeback of blogging, and while it's true that many of my own favourite blogs have gone inactive, others—including Chas's, of course, and the one that got me started, Stephen Bodio's Querencia—are still alive and kicking. Chas explicitly committed to keeping his Southern Rockies Nature Blog going, and I intend to follow his example by getting back in the saddle and posting more regularly. So if anyone out there is still paying attention, thanks very much for your patience, and I hope it will soon be rewarded. I really do have some good material backlogged, and we may have figured out a way to get photos from our Canon to the Internet.

Talk to you soon!