Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not Your Usual Yard Birds

I always love migration. You just never know what's going to pop up in the yard. First, I should say that "yard" for us means roughly a half acre of grass, the rest is one acre of in-process prairie restoration and 3.5 acres of mixed hardwoods and pines. It makes for fabulous bird watching.

We had two visitors this week within 15 minutes of each other that had me running for my camera.

When I caught a glimpse of the first bird my initial thought was "Curve-billed Thrasher??? WHAT?" Trust me, there's a good explanation for why I'd pop a bird from the American Southwest into Minnesota. We've raised one in our Avian Nursery at WRC. Yep. It caught a ride on a trailer hitch for nearly 600 miles before the people found it. It's hopping a ride back to Arizona tomorrow so it's been on my mind lately. But that's a whole different story... the point of this is that the curved bill is what caught my attention through the apple tree:

Turns out it's a juvenile Yellow-billed Cuckoo. (not a Curve-billed Thrasher... go figure!)

The second cool bird was this Blue-headed Vireo:

From a front view you can get a better look at its signature "spectacles:"

While Blue-headed Vireos nest up north in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, the Yellow-billed Cuckoos nest in my area. But I've never seen one in our yard before.

You can tell it's a juvenile by its bright yellow orbital ring. The ring will begin greying next spring. Here's a closer look at its eye:

Note the cuckoo is actually panting. We've had an extremely hot run of weather and are in the middle of drought. Both birds came down to bird baths that we have in our yard. Water is an equally important draw as bird feeders. Without water I probably never would've had these birds come so close to the house.

While the cuckoo has a long migration ahead of it (all the way down to South America) the vireo will actually stay in North and Central America for the winter.

Both birds glean insects from tree branches. A great reason to keep a pesticide-free habitat!


Check out other neat migration birds and photos from all over the world via Wild Bird Wednesday.


18 comments:

  1. awesome sightings of both! we get the yellow-billed cuckoos here each summer. the closest shots i've gotten is when they crash into our deck windows/doors! eek!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Those two beauties must have been very happy to find your water. I'm happy to find your site.

    I really appreciate the information about conjunctivitis. I wondered if it was just a juvenile thing, or if something was wrong, and I hoped someone would notice and let me know. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful shots of both the Cuckoo and the Vireo! Great sightings!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Many thanks for your comment on my post, i'm glad you liked it.


    peter

    ReplyDelete
  5. How cool! Fantastic shots! I've never seen a cuckoo. Very handsome bird!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have never seen a cuckoo, so these photos are fascinating to me. This one looks more streamlined than I expected. And the longish yellow beak is quite a surprise.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree with the water-baths and the chemicals-free habitat for our feathered-friends. The vireo is so eye-catching; the cuckoo makes for a great camera study too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Interesting post! you got lovely captures of the cute birds...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautiful photos! I've never seen either. I have photos of my first curved bill thrasher that I took last winter. I live in AZ

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very nice birds - I think your "yard" sound a bit more like a birdscape than mine! But I do get parrots!

    The Snoopy Happy Dance - or some similar version involving marsupials - was on display when I checked the image! I actually tried to get the picture and was sure I had missed it - I had watched about 4 other birds do the "grub flick" through bins,but the bird in the picture was the first to do it within camera range.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lucky you for having a great area for birding in your own yard. Great sightings, fantastic shots!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sweet little birds and the Coopers Hawk in other post also very SWEET. It was a pleasure stopping by to see what you have been sharing~

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the birds you get in your yard. Beautifully shot close up of these birds

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great poses and close-ups. I love that catch light in the eye!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excellent photos! I feel envious that you have so many wonderful birds landing in your yard!

    ReplyDelete
  16. You give a whole new meaning to the word yard..and excellent photos too! I am also lucky to have woodland surrounding me..not all mine, but most neighbors leave it be..and some is actually protected by deeds..Anyway, today I caught a Pine Warbler and teo B&Ws in my backyard :-)
    I've never seen a Blue-Eyed Warbler..nice spectacles!

    ReplyDelete