Unseasonably cool weather has blessed Mississippi for the past week leaving us all a bit out of sorts. We are still struggling to get our fields planted as wet spring weather has kept us wondering when we’ll see the sun again. Actually, the weather has been very “Seattle” like with mostly cloudy skies, occasional “sun-breaks” and cool temps. In any case, the spring birds are working feverishly to get nests built and preparing to get their young hatched and reared.
Here an Indigo Bunting is in the process of molting into the beautiful blue plumage with which it will spend the summer. They just arrived but soon the Indigo buntings will number in the hundreds around the wetland area, leaving blue streaks as they race around feeding and caring for their babies.
The Yellow Breasted Chat may be one of the most vociferous birds in the woods. Breeding season seems to bring out this behavior in the birds who perch high and let it be known that that they are looking for a mate. They also engage in antics that have gained them a reputation for being excellent gymnasts. It is not uncommon to see them at the top of a tree jumping up and down and singing at the top of their lungs.
I never get tired of looking at and photographing these magnificent birds. Once driven to the brink of extinction due to the popularity of inserting their feathers into ladies hats in the early 1900’s, they are now recovered and seem to be doing well in our part of the country. Here the Great Egret hunts for his breakfast in about 6” of water – just right for keeping those tail feathers dry.
Shorebirds are almost impossible to identify as they fly past you in a blur. They are also difficult just due to the impossible number of different species of shorebirds to choose from. Luckily, the camera takes away all the guesswork. With a photograph, you can sit at your computer and browse the field guide and make a positive I.D. as I did with this Spotted Sandpiper. I also saw a Solitary Sandpiper and some Greater Yellowlegs but was not lucky enough to get shots of either.
Last, but not least, the ubiquitous Red Winged Blackbird. The undistinguished female lacks the yellow and red wing bars and beautiful contrasting black plumage of the male and looks more like a sparrow. They are everywhere right now and are preparing to nest. I think you can agree that these are beautiful birds in their own right.