February 2012


This Common Redpoll photo was taken at the Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville, Wisconsin

The female Common Redpoll

Select this link to see photos or a slideshow of the Common Redpoll

The Common Redpoll is a streaked gray-brown finch with a black chin, dark streaks on the flanks, and a bright red cap. The male is pink breasted and the female not. Its range is northern Canada and Alaska and wintering irregularly in the northern and central United States. The habitat is birches, evergreens, and tundra scrub, and in winter weeds and brush. They actively feed on seeds from trees and weeds. Their flocks are seemly always on the move.

I specifically went to the Bong State Recreation Area in Kansasville, Wisconsin to find and photograph the Common Redpoll. I had struck out several times before and also at other locations where they had been seen. It was reported as seen around evergreen trees eating the berries at Bong. Upon arrival at the Bong entrance I met other Milwaukee birders who stated the Redpoll was seen at the evergreens and the bird feeders, but was not regular-good luck on finding them. I went to the bird feeders. On the first and second try at the feeders no Redpolls were seen. I asked other birders and they stated they had seen them around the evergreen tree areas. I walked by the evergreen trees at several areas, and heard birds but saw none. I tried a phishing call but nothing came out. I went back to the bird feeders and saw House Finches, American Goldfinches, Downy Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals, White Breasted Nuthatches, Ring-necked Pheasant, and American Tree Sparrows. Several Redwing Blackbirds flocked in and chased the birds at the feeders away. Upon getting ready to leave Bong I noticed different colored birds that were gray-brown with some pink and red coloring flocking in. I had never seen these before so quickly took photos at the feeders, not knowing what species I was taking. The sun was so bright that I couldn’t get a good view of the birds from the camera. While walking to the car I saw a couple of birders and asked if they had seen any Redpolls. They pointed in the direction of a parking lot, and said they had seen them in the evergreens and around the grounds. They also pointed out another birder who was also going to view them. I caught up to him and found out he was from Racine, Wisconsin and an avid birder who had just arrived for bird sightings. We slowly walked toward the evergreen trees and he started phishing, since no birds were seen, only heard. Immediately the birds started to move and flocked to a bare tree in front of us. They seemed to stop to stare at us. He stated these are Redpolls. I was amazed at the Redpolls response, but immediately started taking photos. I got four photos before the flock took off as quickly as they came.

After getting back home where I could view the bird photos better, it was determined that I had taken several male and one female Common Redpolls at the feeders, one female Common Redpoll, and two Hoary Redpolls from the evergreen trees. Also photographed at the feeder were a bright red male House Finch, and an orange variant House Finch. All in all it turned out to be a fairly good bird sighting and photo day, even though the best occurred in a short burst of time.

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The Cooper’s Hawk photo was taken from my back door as I was watching a swarm of smaller birds in the backyard at a feeder. Its height is estimated at 20 inches.

Select this link to see photos or a slideshow of the Cooper’s Hawk

The juvenile Cooper’s Hawk is a short winged long tailed bird that is brown with a streaked breast and white belly. The tail of the female is rounded, the male less so. Its range is from south Canada, United States, to northern Mexico. Its habitat is mature forest, open woodland, wood edges, and river groves. Feeding on birds and small mammals it hunts by stealth, approaching its prey through dense covering, as seen here, and then pouncing with a rapid powerful flight. Its short wings and long tail make it fast and maneuverable for quick threading among the branches of the trees.

This is my second Hawk to photograph. I was watching a swarm of smaller birds passing through my yard, landing briefly, and then passing on. I saw something larger passing overhead and landing in a tree over a bird feeder. Looking up I had just enough time to get these photos before it took off. It took awhile to identify the bird with the wide tail banding to be a Cooper’s Hawk.

This short Cooper's Hawk was photographed in Muskego, Wisconsin. It has an estimated height of 14.5 inches.

This short Cooper’s Hawk was photographed in Muskego, Wisconsin. It has an estimated height of 14.5 inches.

The male Lesser Scaup was photographed at North Point on Lake Michigan that is just north of Bradford Beach in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This is the female Lesser Scaup Duck

Select this link to see album photos of the Lesser Scaup Duck

The Lesser Scaup has a dull purple and slightly domed head with black chest and tail, and white wing stripes. It has a black tip on a blue bill. The female Lesser Scaup is dark brown with a clean-cut white mask near the bill. The Scaup is the only duck with a broad white stripe on the trailing edge of the wing. The diet is mostly mollusks and plant material. The habitats are lakes, rivers, salt bays, and tundra ponds. It tends to drift to a far range from people, so it is usually seen at a distance. Its range is from Alaska, western Canada, and the coasts of the U.S. and southern States.

This male Greater Scaup Duck was photographed in the pond behind the Milwaukee Art Museum

This female Greater Scaup Duck was photographed at Lakeshore State Park south of Discovery World in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Select this link to see photos or a slideshow of the Greater Scaup Duck

The Greater Scaup has a dull green and rounded head with black chest and white wing stripes. The female Greater Scaup is dark brown with a clean-cut white mask near the bill. They have a black tip on a large blue bill. The Scaup is the only duck with a broad white stripe on the trailing edge of the wing. The diet is mostly mollusks and plant material. The habitats are lakes, rivers, salt bays, and tundra ponds. It tends to drift to a far range from people, so it is usually seen at a distance. Its range is coastal from Alaska, Canada the Great Lakes and the coasts of the U.S.

This Bald Eagle was photographed at Lock & Dam 14, Le Claire, Iowa

Select this link to see photos or a slideshow of the Bald Eagles at Le Claire, Iowa Lock 14

Select this link to see photos or a slideshow of the Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle is the National Bird of the U.S. A dark body with a white head and tail, and a massive yellow bill can identify it. The diet is mostly fish, but also eats other birds and mammals. Does most of it’s hunting from a high perch or cruising low over water or land. The habitat is coasts, rivers, large lakes and also mountains. Its range is Alaska and Canada to the SE U.S. coasts.