In the Thrush of It

Took a quick break from building our Ark to put another tick in my North American Bird List count.  It has been raining pretty solid for the last couple of days which is a bit bitter-sweet.  Our wells could definitely use the recharging and it is probably good for the budding trees and flowers that took an early hit with a late bout of  freezing rain and snow just as they were emerging from their long slumber.  The bitter part is I was just getting into the swing of the yardwork and a crap load of items to get caught up on – well, at least the things I can get materials for.  To top it all off my virtual trail half marathon was supposed to happen this weekend and that might get pushed to later in the week – that is if I don’t decide to just put on my mudder shoes and re-live my youth spent splashing in the rain (not sure Linda is going to like the looks of the laundry after that).  Oh, well, no used in fretting about yet.  In honor of the rain, how about we feature a bird that literally has Water in the name.

Louisiana Waterthrush seen for a brief minute in Iowa in April 2017

Hit the jump to see some more kindergarten art.

Now, before we go much further, I am in bonus time this month for posts.  This is when I generally bring out my less than stellar shots so I can at least officially count it on the list. Today is no exception to that practice as these shots are just slightly above a 5 year old crayon drawing.  Luckily just enough features made it into the tin to properly ID the species as a Louisiana Waterthrush.  This elusive Thrush comes courtesy of a birding trip to Iowa back in 2017 (ironically this very same month).  If you recall from a previous post, I discovered a batch of pictures I assumed went to the great bit bucket in the sky.  Thankfully these Waterthrush crayon impressions were in that set as finding this bird since has been a complete pain in the ass.  It doesn’t help that I took Ron birding at a state park down the road from our house and he managed to get one in the tin.  Two birds were whipping through a valley we were standing in.  I was waiting for them to calm down a bit before subjecting the arms to torture trying to get a bead on them with The Beast.  Ron takes his cardboard weighing camera rig and snaps a couple of luck shots and sure enough got pictures of them.  After “chimping” at the back display we decided they were Waterthrushes.  Too late as they were gone by then – broke my own rule – NEVER CHIMP in the field people NEVER!!!

Louisiana Waterthrush seen for a brief minute in Iowa in April 2017

Ever since then I’ve been trying to tin one to claw back ground from Ron. I’d spot one, but before I could take a picture Ron would be coughing loudly, smacking sticks on tree trunks or throwing rocks at me to disrupt the shots… and Mom considers him the good son.  Luckily Ron didn’t go with us to Iowa so any new birds had a fairly good chance of getting tinned.  Problem was there wasn’t that many birds hanging out at Lacey-Keosauqua State Park.  If you recall, this is where I took the American Robin on a recent post (link here). Tired of taking Robins, I decided to walk along a stream and see if anything exciting was hanging out.  Ended up chasing down a few Yellow-Rumped Warblers just before it started to drizzle.  Decided to call it a day and headed back with a weak showing on the shot counter.  Halfway back to the RV a flash of white whipped by as it navigated the path of the stream – for some reason Luke maneuvering his X-wing through the Death Star channel to drop torpedoes down an exhaust port came to mind.  The streak immediately slowed and landed on the far bank in a tangle of logs and roots.  A quick check confirmed no TIE Fighters in the area – got the camera to the ready and spent the next two minutes trying to keep the focus off the branches.  15 quick shots before it darted further downstream.  Returned to the RV where my frustrations were confirmed – a number of the images were almost completely black being late to push the ISO up against the dark bank.  Took some major work in the digital darkroom to save a few shots revealing key features

Louisiana Waterthrush seen for a brief minute in Iowa in April 2017

I was pretty sure it was a Waterthrush after doing some quick searches on the way back home.  The problem is there are two Waterthrushes in the States that look very similar.  The Louisiana pretty much stays on the eastern half of the US where the Northern will venture further west.  Both available at some point in the year in the IA/IL regions, so no luck discerning there.  Turns out there are a few of characteristics that can help distinguish the two – the Northern has a buffier belly and eyebrow.  The Louisiana version is whiter.  The Northern also has a lot more streaking on the neck.  Granted, these are hard to distinguish in the field unless you somehow managed to get both species side by side.  Combing through the reference books, decided this was indeed a Louisiana due to the white tones and the less streaking on the throat.  I am still looking for an opportunity to get a Northern in the tin, however the wait is over for this one and Ron can officially stop throwing rocks at me (if Mom only knew!).

Louisiana Waterthrush seen for a brief minute in Iowa in April 2017

Now for the kicker interesting tidbit.  The Louisiana Waterthrush is wait for it.. wait for it … wait a bit more for it… NOT a Thrush.  That tidbit should win you a bar bet if you need to.  Nope, this bird is actually a large Warbler.  What they did get right is the first part of the name as they do like to hang out around water.  Louisiana’s prefer running water where the Northern prefers to vacation at more stagnant water bodies.

Will let it go there – some new Halloween parts are rolling off my 3D printer and I need to get them installed on my new animated Halloween prop.  Only have 6 months left to get all the new decorations done – where has the year gone!?!

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