Lorna was in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner when she called out “Hey Henry, there’s a bunch of birds in the front of the house. You might want to check it out.” She was right!
Even though all my camera gear was packed (we leave for a trip to Sanibel tomorrow) I quickly pulled out my camera and took a few shots. Cedar Waxwings were on my wish list for this winter so I was delighted to have them pose for me. The thing that pulled them in was the crabapples.
Click on the picture for a larger image.
Osage Orange, Maclura pomifera
We’ve been out gathering Hedge apples this morning. Even though it’s not edible they look cool! I’m going to use them for a display in my booth at the Healthcare Design Conference HCD13.
The trees are pretty interesting too. The wood of the Osage Orange is the most rot-resistant of any wood that I know of; ideal for fence posts. It was the preferred wood of native americans for bow-making.
Supposedly when Mastodons lived here they ate the fruit and helped spread the tree over North America.
Northern Goshawk, Accipiter gentilis
Justin Robertson brought Kitty to the PGT this morning to fly her. Justin is a falconer and Kitty is one of his birds. Justin is working with us at the PGT this winter to help with some forestry projects.
Northern Goshawks are rarely found in Missouri. The closely related Coopers Hawk is much more common; they nested in the pines by our house this year.
Dark-eyed Junco, Junco hyemalis
Junco’s are the most common winter sparrow here. I photographed this one today under a plum thicket by the barn. To help draw them in I tossed out a little cracked corn. They immediately showed up and started scratching at the ground to uncover more food.
Shellbark Hickory, Carya laciniosa
I tasted a Shellbark Hickory Nut for the first time today and was surprised by how delicious it was. It was sweet and buttery; almost like Butter Brickle Ice Cream.
At the PGT you can find Shellbark Hickories in the rich soil along Hiller’s Creek. The nuts of Shellbark Hickory are much larger than the more common Shagbark Hickory. I took a picture showing the two different nuts in my hand. Not only are the Shagbark Hickory nuts smaller, but they are not nearly as delicious.
Thanks to Jeffrey Carstens for encouraging me to try these nuts and for helping me to identify the trees.
White-throated Sparrow, Zonotrichia albicollis
Walking at sunrise this morning I photographed this bird in a clump of Silky Dogwood. They’ve just arrived from Canada to spend the winter with us.
The forecast for sunshine was wrong. Despite that I took a long walk this afternoon in the Dogleg Prairie; one of our largest restored prairies. This sparrow flushed in front of me and clung to some Indian Grass for a few seconds before flying off. I’m embarrassed to admit that even after spending 20-minutes with my bird ID books I’m not 100% sure that this is a Song Sparrow.
Fox Sparrow, Passerella iliaca
I found this large dark sparrow today in a dense thicket of Silky Dogwood with many dried native wildflowers mixed in. I could see how it got it’s name with those rich red-brown colors.
Sometimes we see Fox Sparrows under our feeder in the winter. Like the Eastern Towhee they will kick back leaves on the ground to uncover seeds and bugs.
Click to see the full image.
A Clouded Sulphur Butterfly (Colias philodice) leaps off a New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
When I took this picture on Friday I wondered if this would be the last butterfly I would see this year. As it is I’ve not seen many butterflies. Despite a wonderful year for flowers the lack of butterflies has been dramatic here at the PGT.
I assume that they are still struggling to recover from the severe drought of 2012.
This tiny bird flushed from the prairie grasses this morning. It flew a short distance and dropped down. I could tell from the way it held it’s tail that it was a wren but I wasn’t sure which one. My Sibley’s guide said that the streaked back, extremely small size and weak flying fits with a Sedge Wren. The fact that it was hanging out in damp dense grass fits.
The Birds of Missouri book says that this is an uncommon migrant.