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Archive for May, 2013

What a difference from last year !! The rivers are running good right now. Everything is green and this cool wet weather looks to continue for another 2 weeks; sometimes Severe. Saw a Summer Tanager in this morning’s clouds and mist; here he is in all his rosey splendor. He was feasting on mulberries even though the are green yet:

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In this map from 8 AM today the orange and red represent 2-4 inches of rain; the purple – 5 or more inches.

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Just a photo from the 27th of May:

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Two days earlier:

 

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I got this photo last weekend; it is a large, slow, methodical bird; later identified as a Yellow Billed Cuckoo. It is rare to actually seen one as they spend much of their time in the tree canopy. THis bird was breaking into tent worm webs on a Black Cherry tree.

A common, but slow-moving and secretive denizen of woodlands, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo eats large quantities of hairy caterpillars. Its loud call is heard far more frequently than the bird is actually seen.

Cool Facts

  • Like the Black-billed Cuckoo, the young Yellow-billed Cuckoo develops incredibly quickly. The entire period from egg laying to fledgling leaving the nest lasts only 17 days. On day six or seven after hatching, the feathers of the young burst out of their sheaths, allowing the nestling to become fully feathered in two hours.
  • Both parents build the nest, incubate the eggs, and brood the nestlings. They incubate and brood equally during the day, but the male takes the night shift. The male brings nest material every time he comes to the nest to take his turn. The female usually takes the offering and works it into the nest.
  • Although the Yellow-billed Cuckoo usually raises its own young, occasionally it will lay its egg in the nest of another cuckoo, or even that of a different species. It has laid eggs in the nest of at least 11 different birds, most commonly in the nest of the Black-billed Cuckoo, American Robin, Gray Catbird, or Wood Thrush. The Yellow-billed Cuckoo may itself be the inadvertent host for an egg of a Black-billed Cuckoo or Brown-headed Cowbird.

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The past 10 days have been beautiful; just like May is supposed to be (unlike last May). The rivers have plenty of water, everything is green, we had nearly 2.0 inches of gentle rain in 30 hours last week. Most of the migratory birds are busy raising their hatchlings and are not so active at this time. However, the Vireos are still busy calling and mating. I got a nice picture of a White eyed Vireo in a tussle with Blue-gray Gnatcatcher next to the Little Buffalo River over (I could not figure that out). Everyone has heard a White eyed Vireo sing, but if you dont look you probably have not seen one (taken with a Canon 50D and a EF400mm f/5.6L Lens (notice the stunning white eyes):

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I got several photos of this diminutive migratory bird. Not only are they small (very small) they are packed with energy and never, never stop moving about the tree limbs and leaves in search of insects. The tail is always up and fanned. They seem not much larger to as hummingbird to my older eyes.

Right next to Little Buffalo River this Saturday morning I found one in a squabble with a Vireo, and gnatcatcher, perplexed had to stop a few times to think. Taken with a Canon 50D and a 400mm Canon DO IS lens:

 

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Its only the 4th time in 3 years i’ve seen a Hooded Warbler here in NW Arkansas. I photographed him on Thursday at 10:35 AM in the Little Buffalo River bottom field across the river.┬áHe is a striking small bird of eastern hardwood forests, the Hooded Warbler prefers forests with some shrub understory.

Cool Fact

  • The Hooded Warbler is strongly territorial on its wintering grounds. Males and females use different habitats: males in mature forest, and females in scrubbier forest and seasonally flooded areas. If a male is removed, a female in adjacent scrub will not move into the male’s territory.

Photo taken with a Canon 50D with a Canon EF400 DO IS lens from about 25′ and I got about 100 insect bites for my effort.

 

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I believe southeastern Newton County and Pope County got a bit more rain (3-4″) the we did here near Parthenon. A Flash Flood Warning was issued for the Richland Creek Campground yesterday afternoon, then more rain came in the evening. I felt that early this morning would be the best time to drive over and check it out. Falling Water Creek was only up about 6 inches at 8 AM; which was a disappointment to me. I expected to see it in flood stage. It was pretty anyway and the azaleas are in bloom at this time:

 

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We got 1.82 inches of rain from dusk Monday until dusk Tuesday. It never rained hard, just a continuous gentle rain for 24 hours.

The White eyed Vireo, a great songster, also, has a beautiful set of white eyes. They are widespread birds across the Ozarks; heard often but rarely seen. this photo was taken right next to the LIttle Buffalo River:

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We luckily have both species here in Arkansas. The Summer Tanagers are more plentiful than the Scarlet Tanagers (by about 10 to 1). The Scarlet tanager requires a territory of about 10 acres and the Summer Tanager only about an acre or so. Notice the black-grey wings on the female Scarlet Tanager and the absence of black-grey on the female Summer Tanager. The female Summer Tanager has a bit more rose pigment in it’s feathers:

female Scarlet Tanager

female Scarlet Tanager

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female Summer Tanager

 

 

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Yesterday, I noticed a pair of Northern Orioles (Baltimore) working together to weave a nest. They were so “deep” into their work that they didn’t notice me only 30′ away. They have been eating mulberries by the hundreds every day; the supply is plentiful on one tree in particular. The female mostly weaves while the male watches.

We are expecting lots of rain and strong storms (possibly severe) over the next 3 days with a slow moving front. There is plenty of moisture in place here; its been so hazy I can’t see the mountains:

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