Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

The black-necked stilt is a shorebird that is found in shallow wetlands of the western United States, Mexico, Central America and parts of South America. They inhabit both fresh water and salt water habitats. They use their long legs to wade through the water looking for fish, shrimp, and aquatic insects. Proportionately their legs are longer then those of any other bird except for flamingos.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Broad-winged Bus Katydid

 Katydids are part of the Order Orthoptera which also includes crickets and grasshoppers. Like grasshoppers katydids have strong hind legs which they use to propel them selves. Like crickets, katydids are nocturnal singers. During mating they call to each other by rubbing the base of their forewings together. A ridge on one wing rubs across a file on the other creating different clicks, chirps and buzzes. The potential mate hears these calls with their ears which are located on their front legs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Flowering Cactus

One thing that I took a few pictures of when we were in Texas were flowering cactus. Here in Minnesota you can imagine we do not have a lot of wild cactus growing. So it was kind of a novelty to me. Last time we were down in 2010 it was earlier in the year. All of the yucca were in bloom but it was too early for the cactus. This time most of the yucca were finished blooming but I found quite a few blooms on cactus almost every where that we went. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Calendar Canids

 Our trip to Yellowstone last spring turned out to be a good one. We usually go at the end of May and in years that we have a late winter, like last year, we usually have a pretty good year photographing in the park. Maybe it is because in years where there is a late winter the mountains still have a lot of snow so the animals head down to the lower elevations of the park which are conveniently close to the roads.
We had the opportunity to photograph all three types of Canidae that can be found in the park. Two of these species made it into the 2012 calendar. Coyotes are fairly common in the park and usually not too difficult to see but the coyote in the first photo was one of the best looking coyotes that I have ever seen. We also managed to photograph several different wolves. I featured this wolf a couple of weeks ago to help bring some attention to the plight of wolves now that many have been delisted from the endangered species act. If you care about wolves and our environment you might want to take another look.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lake Yellowstone

Typically most of the pictures that I take, and thus most of the pics in the calendar, are of wildlife. However I do take some scenery pics and over the years i have occasionally chosen a scenery pic to be on the cover of the calendar. The cover of the 2012 Ecobirder calendar is a piece of drift wood that I photographed on the shores of Lake Yellowstone. The ice, and reflected clouds that are slightly out of focus in the background help to give the picture a mystical and serene feeling.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cute Calendar Pics

No calendar is complete with out a picture of something cute. The 2012 Ecobirder calendar had two cute pictures. April featured a big horned sheep lamb that we photographed in Yellowstone. We first saw the lamb with its mother on a ledge high up on the face of a cliff hours just after it was born. The next day we stopped back to try for some more pics and mother and child were no longer on the ledge. We went down the road a little ways were we found them near the road. After only a day the lamb had managed to climb down the shear cliff.
The second cute photo is in the month of June. This little porcupine was orphaned after its mother was hit by a car. With out any family to care for it the baby was sent to a rehabilitator. I got my chance to snap a few pics of this little cutie, as my wife would call it, when the education director at The Raptor Center, who is also a rehabilitator, was asked to porcupine sit. How would you like to be asked to care for a baby porcupine. Good thing that there was no changing diapers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk


Continuing on with this weeks birthday celebration we had two owls that where like book ends in the 2012 calendar. The January photo, above, was of a northern hawk owls. These are owls that typically live in boreal forests. We see some in northern Minnesota, especially in the winter time when some of the younger birds migrate south in search of better hunting. They are diurnal so they are often active during the day which makes them much easier to photograph. I photographed this bird at the Sax Zim Bog in March.
December featured this little saw-whet owl. Saw-whets nest up in southern Canada but migrate to the northern United Sates during the winter. At Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN they often catch and band hundreds of these birds as they migrate south in October. A few usually end up in south eastern Minnesota over the winter and if we are lucky we get a chance to see one. This bird spent a couple of days in the backyard of a Twin Cities birder. he was nice enough to let the rest of the birding community come into his yard to get a peak.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

Wilson's warbler 2011 was a great year for photographing warblers. The winter lasted extra long so when the warblers came migrating through in May the trees had not leafed out yet. This made it easier to find and photograph small birds that normally hide in the foliage.
golden-winged warblerTwo warblers made the 2012 calendar. The top photo was featured in August. It is a Wilson's warbler which I photographed at the Minnesota Valley NWR. The second bird was featured in May and it is a golden-winged warbler. It was also photographed at the Minnesota Valley NWR.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monarch Butterfly

monarch on blazing star This second birthday celebration pic is featured on the month of July of the Ecobirder 2012 Calendar. It is the only insect pic in the calendar. Michelle does not care much for dragonflies, spiders or most other insects so she does not let me include them in the calendar, but butterflies are the exception. This photo was taken at Crex Meadows. In case you missed today's earlier post today is the 5th anniversary of the blog and we are celebrating through out the week.

Happy Earth Day

big horn rams butting heads Today is a very special day. Not only is it Earth Day, a day when people celebrate and pay a little more attention to the natural world around them, but it is also the five year birthday of this blog. To celebrate the birthday I will be featuring photos from the 2012 calendar during the next week. Each year I do a calendar for family and friends featuring some of the best photos that I took from the previous year. This first picture represents November and it was taken out at Yellowstone. The rest of the calendar pictures will follow so sit back and enjoy the show.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


During part of out trip to Texas, last week, we spent a couple of days on South Padre Island. One of the best birding spots that we found for migrants was the small gardens that surround the convention center.
The wall of the convention center are decorated with a mural by wildlife artist Wyland.
The grounds are decorated by a number of small gardens and trees. I believe that these flowers that I photographed are from hibiscus trees.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Snapping Turtle

baby snapping turtle The common snapper is a large turtle that is found in the eastern half of North America. Like all turtles snapper begin life as an egg. The female will leave the water to find sandy soil in which she will dig her nest. She will lay between 25 to 80 eggs and then cover them with sand and leave. The eggs will hatch 9 to 18 weeks later depending on the temperature. The young turtles will dig their way out of the nest and then head to the water.
snapping turtle Snapping turtles can live a long time. In the wild they can live to be about 30 years old. Over time they grow quite large reaching up to 20 inches long and 35 pounds. Snappers are not able to pull their legs and head inside of their shell for protection like most other turtles. Instead when they are threatened they may snap at a predator. This behavior has given snapping turtles the reputation of having a bad disposition.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Morning Sunrise by Carolyn Marie Taylor

In the early morning hours,
As the sun just starts to rise.
You can hear the sounds of nature
Whispering in your ears and seeing with your eyes.

Listening to the music of birds singing,
And frogs croaking in different sounds.
Seeing the deer gently moving
And rabbits hopping over the grounds.

As the sun slowly gains height
The color of the sky changes.
It is a wonderous sight
To see the day awaken.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nashville Warbler

Check SpellingNashville warbler The Nashville warbler is a wood-warbler that breeds in southern Canada and the northern United States. They migrate for the winter to southern Texas, Mexico and Central America. They were named by Alexander Wilson who first observed them around Nashville,TN in 1811 while they were migrating. Migration is the only time that the Nashville warbler is near Nashville.
Nashville warbler Most of the Nashville warblers breed in the east half of North America. However there is a population that breeds in western North America, northern California, Oregon, Washington, western Montana and British Columbia. This population of Nashville warblers was once considered a different species called the Calaveras warbler. They are brighter then the eastern population with more white on the belly and a longer tale.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

northern mockingbird I just got back from a week of vacation in south Texas. Vacations for me are a lot more strenuous work then the normal 9 to 5. I usually spend the whole day, from sun up to sunset running from park to park photographing wildlife. We went a little bit later in the spring on this trip hoping to hit migration and get the opportunity to photograph some cool birds like painted buntings but unfortunately the weird winter/spring kind of messed up everything. I did get to photograph a lot of new butterflies and dragonflies and also photographed six new life birds. In honor of my trip I feature the state bird of Texas, the northern mockingbird, for this weeks Tuesday Tweets. Keep an eye out for a lot of new Texas pics, including ferruginous pygmy-owls in the weeks and months to come.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bee Macro

bee macro With the warm weather we have been having this spring I have been seeing bees busy around for about a month now. Bees are important because they are one of the main pollinators for plants. You can see the pollen sacks on the back leg of this bee. If you look close you can see small amounts of loose pollen on the front legs and antennae. This loose pollen will fall of when the bee is in a flower and it will pollinate the plant that the flower belongs too.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Star of Siam

This tropical waterlily is called Star of Siam. I photographed it last July at the water garden at the Como Zoo.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Threatened Wolves.

Things look pretty bleak for one of the few large predators left in the United States, the gray wolf. Despite the fact that the number of gray wolves in the us is under 10,000 the federal government has taken the wolf off of the endangered species list. The wolf became unprotected in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan earlier this year. Now here in Minnesota the right wing tea bagger congress is already trying to pass legislation for hunting the wolf. Typically once a species leaves the endangered species list hunting is not allowed for years so that scientists and environmentalists can study the effects of taking them from the list. Out west things are even worse for the wolves. They are in the process of removing protections in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. In much of this area the wolf will be considered a predator and can be shot on site with out a permit or season. This means that the wolf populations that were carefully reintroduced in Yellowstone, like the one above, are a risk of being shot if they step a paw outside of the park. If you would like to help stop the senseless slaughter of wolves in Minnesota please visit this website