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This is the NETFO bird report for February. A Vermilion Flycatcher, a Painted Bunting, Sandhill Cranes and an American Bittern top this month’s highlights. Thanks to all who birded and sent in their results and thanks again to Luanne for everything.
Greater White-fronted Geese were restricted to RC WMA in Freestone county with a max of 25 photographed on 2/14 (ebird MS). Noted in six counties the max of 200 Snow Geese were tallied in Bonham in Fannin county on 2/13 (ebird ML). The single Ross’s Goose at Lake Bob Sandlin that has been there for a long, long, long time, has a friend! I believe it was three winters ago when this happened before, so for now they are a pair (DB,LB). The only other report of Ross’s Geese came from Bonham where 50 were tallied on 2/13 (ebird ML). Found in 13 counties, the peak of 120 Canada Geese were tallied in Fannin county flying north on 2/12 (ebird HL).
If you only saw one Cardinal a year, think how much you would appreciate their beauty. The male Cardinal in breeding colors is one of the most beautiful single colored birds in the world. Their fairly large size, their black mask and crest give them a distinctive and almost regal manner. Many birdwatchers all over the world outside of the U.S. view the Cardinal as a huge prize on their Life List.
Ah, but in my yard where I can hardly look out the window without seeing a Cardinal, their value as a noteworthy sight on my bird feeders honestly is not high. It is not that I don't see their beauty. It is just that I see it every day over and over again.
I'm not so crass as to not appreciate them at all, for one can't help but feel some joy in their beauty. Today, there were four males and at least five females around my yard (with ten feeders). I enjoyed watching them, along with the Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, House Finches, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, a single Pine Siskin, Chipping Sparrows, a Mockingbird and a couple of Song Sparrows. It was a busy day on the feeders.
I love living on the lake. Many mornings, as soon as I am dressed, I open my front door, sit on my steps and watch whatever may be happening on the lake or on my bird feeders right in front of me. Not a bad way to start the day.
This morning is a bit chilly, but not bad. It is overcast, quiet and peaceful. I have been drinking my coffee on my steps watching a large flock of canvasback ducks (Aythya valisineria) feeding and cavorting just off shore. There are probably 40 to 50 of them drifting back and forth. Each one occasionally ducks his head (no pun intended) beneath the water and quickly disappears as it goes underwater to feed. Sometimes it seems as if there was a signal given and almost all of them go at once leaving a dozen or less still on the surface. Good entertainment for a quiet morning.
The canvasback ducks don't usually come down to the more open waters near me. They are normally in the more secluded shallow water that has lots of little islands and inlets. That shallow water provides a lot of nutrients in the way of buds, snails, tubers, roots and insect larva that makes up most of its diet. It is also more secluded and normally away from human activities. However, it is still duck season and the area where they normally stay is not a safe place. Down here, closer to human activities and in the open is definitely safer for them. That is good for me for I get to shoot them now. Yes, it is a bit of a cliche, but I am shooting them with a Nikon.
Yesterday, Saturday the 5th of December, I went on a field trip with fellow Texas Master Naturalist, Kristi Thomas. Kristi also publishes her photographs on this website as well as writing a blog here. She is an outstanding photographer and a great contributor to this website.
She had also invited members of NETFO (Northeast Texas Field Orinthologists - http://members.tripod.com/netfo_tx/) for an event at Lake O' the Pines. Part of the trip included a boat ride to observe water birds and visit a nesting location for Bald Eagles.
Seeing the eagles and their nest was a treat and we have had some minor discussion about the eagle's nest in our talk forum - http://easttexasnaturalists.com/forum/bird-sightings/45-bald-eagles-nest-on-lake-o-the-pines.html. One of the things we talked about was the location of the nest.