Nature Blog

Occasional observations of wild birds on Planet Earth. (Mostly Iowa.)

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee Pops

A Black-capped Chickadee pops out through the thinning foliage. And now I'm noticing again the soft buffy tint of the bird's flanks. Black-capped Chickadees do not migrate. They are truly birds that belong to North America.   September 26, 2022

Magnolia Warbler

Subtle Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warblers are now passing southward though the eastern half of the US. But even in their diminished glory a "Maggie" brightens up the Redbud tree. This one, with no stripes on the flanks, is a female in fall plumage.   September 10, 2022

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler in passing

A Black-and-white Warbler passes through the tapestry of Honey Locusts, probably on her way to Central America. Black-and-white Warblers nest in the north, east, and southeast. I watch for them in Iowa in the fall.   September 4, 2022

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird as Friend

A certain Gray Catbird still comes around when I'm outside, even though she's no longer feeding babies. She meows. I toss her some live mealworms. She doesn't startle but hops closer. I think we're friends.     August 19, 2022

Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Cardinal Flower

Hummingbird and Cardinal Flower

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Cardinals are made for each other. Here is how the flower's shape results in the hummingbird's picking up the pollen and carrying it to the next flower. It is nature's win-win situation.     August 18, 2022

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Wood-Pewee & Lichen Snag

Eastern Wood-Pewees have a soft, gentle look. But to flies they are sudden death. Perched on a free-swinging, lichen-jeweled snag, the flycatcher snatches an insect out of the air. And returns to the same spot. July 15, 2022

Yellow-throated Vireo

Yellow-throated Vireo

This wild Black Cherry tree always seems to attract birds. At the moment, a Yellow-throated Vireo is making itself at home. Because the native Black Cherry is host to a host of insects, it also hosts many birds.  July 11, 2022

American Robin

Red-hot Robin

Here's what's happening in my backyard on this hot Fourth of July day. The mother robin isn't sitting on her eggs. Instead, she's standing on the edge of the nest with her mouth open.  July 4, 2022

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher on Moss

After the baby bluebirds fledged, the House Wrens were ready to move in. First off, the wrens carried out the old furniture and drapes — everything the bluebirds had used to make the nest comfortable for their young.  June 16, 2022

House Wren

House Wrenovation

After the baby bluebirds fledged, the House Wrens were ready to move in. First off, the wrens carried out the old furniture and drapes — everything the bluebirds had used to make the nest comfortable for their young.  May 31, 2022

Gray Catbird

Kitty the Catbird

How many mealworms can a Gray Catbird carry when she's taking a meal home to her babies? I don't know. But I always mealworms on hand during nesting season to entice birds to approach close.  May 27, 2022

Eurasian Collared-Doves

Lovey Doves

Two Eurasian Collared-Doves lit side by side. She pecked him gently on his breast. They touched the tips of their bills. And then there was this. I don't think they noticed me at all.  April 17, 2022

American Goldfinch

Goldfinch Molt 

American Goldfinches are half dressed for their weddings. The males' spring attire will be mostly gold, with a shining black cap. Quite different from the military olive-green we watched in winter.   April 8, 2022

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

An adult Red-shouldered Hawk is a very pretty hawk, more colorful than some other hawks in the same Buteo genus. With its rich russet hues on the shoulders and belly, and the dramatic barring of the wings, it's an easy hawk to ID.   March 17, 2022

Dark-eyed Junco

Call of the Junco

Does the Dark-eyed Junco seem pensive? Maybe I'm reading in my own feelings.  I wonder if the great coniferous forests of the north call it home to nest there once again, and how the bird hears that call.   March 11, 2022

American Woodcock

Woodcock Pipes

American Woodcocks are BAA-ack, in Iowa. If you live near a grassy field with woods adjacent, go outside at dawn and drink in the light rounding upward from the east. To hear a few seconds of his song, click this post.    March 8, 2022

Black-capped Chickadee

Inner Light

The inward experience of a chickadee is hidden. But with the wings of my soul I feel its urge to live and to send its children into the future. May our grandchildren know the grandchildren of the chickadee.   Feb. 25, 2022

Barred Owl

Barred Owl in Shadow

It was dim when I went for my walk. A big, indistinct shadow moved through the bare trees and landed where I was heading. When I got close, suddenly I was looking into the calm face of a Barred Owl. Feb. 12, 2022

Common Redpoll

Look for a Redpoll

When the American Goldfinches flock through my woods, I look for a Common Redpoll. Redpolls are the same size and shape as the goldfinches. They travel and feed together. Worth looking for Feb. 4, 2022

Tufted Titmouse

Crest of the Tufty

Top-of-the-head feathers tell you how a Tufted Titmouse feels. This is a sociable litte bird, one that commnicates constantly with its family, flock, and, well, others. We can't know everthing it's saying, but here's a bit of it. Jan. 17, 2022

Northern Cardinal

The Cardinal's Face  

Sometimes you just wonder how nature comes up with shapes like the black patch around the bill of the male Northern Cardinal. Face on, it appears nearly square. There must be some advantage to displaying this pattern. Jan. 14, 2022

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrows gets all comfy in Iowa in winter, which is warmer than its summer home in the Arctic is now. They often hang out in bare Greenbrier. The daggery vine is safety and home sweet home for a little bird. Jan. 5, 2022

Northern Harrier

Harrier Air  Skating

Back and forth she flies, always looking down. With only an occasional flap, like a skater pushing off with one foot, she glides as if riding on ice, only a few feet above the ground. A treat to see on New Year's Day. Jan. 1, 2022

Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadee Dream 

This Black-capped Chickadee is poised to leave. Below, it is still and dreamlike. Above, it ripples with intention. Happy holidays! May we extend our love and generosity to all who share this earth with us. Dec. 24, 2021

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red Head of Winter 

Ate the moment of the winter solstice this morning, I could feel in the air that Red-headed Woodpeckers must be about. A quick movement up the treetops gave it away. Watching us. Living its wild life. Is this not happiness! Dec. 21, 2021

Northern Cardinal

Fresh for Winter

Just two days before the official start of winter, the cardinal appears in top form. His plumage is in wonderful condition. Fresh, new, fluffy feathers have replaced the worn-out feathers of last summer. Molting in action. Dec. 19, 2021

Amerian Elm

The Elm and its Afterlife 

It has been a beloved tree. For as long as we have lived here the American Elm has arched over our gravel road. Today, with the respectful skill of a surgeon, Eli removed the dead limbs sure to come down in the first ice storm. Dec. 16, 2021

Bue Jay

Blue Jay Plants Oak Tree

An acorn is on its way to a secret burial spot. It may be dug up this winter and eaten. Or forgotten. Until it sprouts and becomes a new oak tree. Here is how Blue Jays saved the oak forest at the end of the Ice Age.   Dec. 11, 2021

Northern Flicker

Flicker's Hidden Gold

How nature half hides some of her beauty. Like the underside of the flicker's tail, a wink of molten gold. Its hard to see it when the bird is in repose. Like a fancy petticoat, designed to be alluring and yet demurly out of sight. Dec. 7 , 2021

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse Pearls

Tufted Titmouse dips beak down into the birdbath and up so quickly that pearls go flying into the air. It can grow quite trusting of humans. One reason may be that it does not migrate, so it lives its whole life in the same area. Dec. 2 , 2021

Wild Turkey hen

Wild Turkey Thanks

Wild Turkeys are native to North America. But they're good to eat, and by the early 20th Century, they had been hunted almost out of existence in North America. Now they're back, thanks to the wisdom of the wild. Nov. 25, 2021

Purple Finch

Purple Finch Warming

Purple Finches never look cold. I don't know if the color of their coat keeps them warm. It certainly warms me to see them. Here's a few of the ways they stay alive in sub freezing winter temperatures. Nov. 17, 2021

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck on Gold

A Ring-necked Duck swam all alone on the pond at sunrise. Why is it called Ring-necked Duck? It does have rings, but the most visible rings are not around the neck. Here is how it got its name. Oct. 26, 2021

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow at the Edge

Where I live in Iowa, we are near the northern edge of where this bird can survive the winter. An October Song Sparrow October may be weighing whether to stay or go. Such decisions draw the map of the species' range. Oct. 20, 2021

White-breasted Nuthatch

Toe of the Nuthatch

How does the White-breasted Nuthatch walk upside down like that? No doubt weighing only 2/3 of an ounce helps. Not much weight to support. Still, almost no bird can do it. Here is the nuthatch's special equipment. Oct 15, 2021

Swainson's Thrush

Virginia Creeper Berries

A Swainson's Thrush migrating north to south across North America in fall needs fuel to survive the trip. Fuel like the berries of Virginia Creeper. Some may hate it, but the birds need it. So I love it. Oct. 14, 2021

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Redbelly Cache

I'm wondering whether the Red-bellied Woodpecker will remember where she's stashing this acorn in a hole in a snag. This is one of few woodpeckers in North America who cache food in this way. Oct. 10, 2021