Thursday, May 19, 2011

Changing for Spring - Update

American Goldfinch - male
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

I think you could say part of this is an update on an older blog.  In the "Changing for Spring!" blog from April 1st, I talked about the Goldfinches molting here at the acreage.  Well, they've completed the molt cycle a couple weeks or more back and I thought I'd throw one up for you to see a male American Goldfinch in all its finery :)  I'm showing the back of the bird because it's the showiest profile...the beautiful stark black and white patterns with the bird's bright yellow back and nape and the forehead black again (as well as the accent of the bill coloration).  What a pretty little bird!

Now that the first flush of dandelions has gone to seed, these birds are all over the ground feeding on the seed heads.  It's pretty amazing (and amusing) when you look out on all the beautiful dandelions and suddenly they take flight!  The birds are like flying dandelions!  And they sing too!  What more could you ask?! 

I've often asked myself questions about the birds we see out on the tallgrass now...were they all here in similar numbers or did we create conditions making them more prevalent in some ways?  I know the American Goldfinch was very likely as common out on the prairie now as a couple hundred years ago. Maybe their population was different than now, but they most certainly were a bird of the prairie as much as the rest of the North American continent.

Baltimore Oriole - male
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

What about others?  The Baltimore and Orchard Orioles are back in the acreage now.  Were they "here" back "in the day"?  I'm assuming they may have been a savanna in SE O'Brien County (Iowa), there were Bur Oak savannas nearby...some along Waterman Creek in the valley here but more so along the Little Sioux River valley south of us.  If they were a species of the savanna, were they "common"?  Interesting question.  I must say that if they weren't common then, we're very fortunate they are now!!!  Love these guys!

Gotta get some work done!  Hope you're not too distracted like I seem to be! 

See you on the Tallgrass!