Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On the Way to Work

On the way to work at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, we drive along the lightly-traveled Mims Road between Beidler Forest Road and our driveway.  There are a few houses along the road, but it is mostly forest and fields on either side of the pavement.  Therefore, we are afforded daily looks at birds not found in the swamp.

On Friday, we caught a patch of bright blue in the grass off the left side of the road.  We stopped and backed up for a closer look, which is usually when the bird of interest departs.  However, on this day the Blue Grosbeak (Guiraca caerulea) remained perched on a stem of grass contently eating the seeds.  Although widespread across their range (southern half of the lower 48 states and up the Mississippi River valley), very little is known about this species' biology.  Contrary to what the images show, Blue Grosbeaks eat mostly insects (grasshoppers and crickets).  They also appear to be frequent cowbird hosts.

On the way to work Sunday morning, we spotted a pair of Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in the same field.  The male appeared to be doing his best to impress the hen, but she appeared to be more interested in finding things to eat, which would mainly be vegetable matter with some small amounts of animal matter (invertebrates and cold-blooded vertebrates).  At one point, the tom can be seen watching the disinterested female walk away.  Maybe, she's read the books and realizes that it is beyond the typical breeding season.

Images by Mark Musselman

1 comment:

Cindy O said...

We have a ton of Blue Grosbeaks this year and a more than usuual count of Painted Buntings, too! I have also seen several Summer Tanagers! Up until your recent post pointing out the different crest, I always thought they were young male cardinals! Purple finches are everywhere! It has been a great bird season in our part of the swamp!