Iowa, Land of the Free and Thrashers

Woke up this morning and quickly checked if there was snow on the ground – nope, actually a nice sunny day which means the prediction of a blog post from my brother Ron when hell freezes over might have been a bit of an exaggeration on my part.  Yep, it’s true, Ron not only clicked the post counter, he delivered a fantastic tutorial on how to identify birds by a sound recording (link here).  Trust me, this amateur birder needs every tool I can stuff in the box when it comes to all those similarly feathered specimens.  Luckily, today’s featured feathered friend isn’t hard to identify.

Brown Thrasher found in Iowa while birding there in April 2017

Better put a caveat on that statement.  When it comes to the prairie states, the Brown Thrasher has little in the way of imposters.  Head to the southern tip of Texas and you pick up the Long-Billed (link here) and Curved-Billed (have it, haven’t posted on it yet).  Head further west from there and you get into the Crissal’s territory.  Slipping into the point of Nevada brings with it LeConte’s and make your way  to the west coast and you will have to deal with the California variety (and nobody wants that ha).  The Brown on the other hand rules the East with a heavy bill and sternful eyes.

Brown Thrasher found in Iowa while birding there in April 2017

Hit the jump to read more about the yellowy eye encounter.

Continue reading Iowa, Land of the Free and Thrashers

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.

Continue reading In the Thrush of It

Confidence Restored

Greetings everyone!  Please bear with me as I reach up and rip off another page on the ol’ timekeeper.  I used to get really excited about April as it was the traditional start of the race season for me.  Two back to back half marathons (second one with a 5K event the night before) for the last two weekends.  As everyone is painfully aware, these are not normal times and true to course, those square boxes on the calendar are absolutely blank.  The first trail run has offered our money back, a reduction in fees or a virtual event and the other road race (Illini Marathon) has been postponed to an unannounced time later in the year.  The trail run was a charity event for Make a Wish Foundation and therefore I offered to continue to support the children and just run virtually – the Illini one is going to be an issue as all the races are backing up and guessing there’s either going to be one hell of an end of the season (which already ends with 4 halfs in 6 weeks) or it is going to be a disappointing year for this self-proclaimed medal whore.  If that was not depressing enough, the very foundation of my birding identification skills has been rocked

American Robin shot in Iowa in April 2017

Hit the jump to read more about our familiar friend. Continue reading Confidence Restored

Another Check in the Bird List – The Scarlet Tanager

Can you tell I’m !#%!@@#$@ cooped up in the house this weekend with a hell spawned cold?  If memory serves (and it is on the fritz at the moment) this is the third post in three days.  Blogging at least keeps my mind off of the missed training runs this has caused which couldn’t happen at a more inconvenient time… but more on that in less than a month.  To be honest, today’s post is really more about a half check than a full check on the Life Birding List.  Linda and I headed out to a photo shoot at Wildcat Den about 30-40 minutes outside of Davenport in Muscatine County, Iowa.  We were in Davenport for our 3 day concert extravaganza (yes, that will be a future post topic) and figured it would be a good opportunity to take some shots at the State Park.  So we strapped on the backpacks, cleared out the memory cards and grabbed the cameras.  Needless to say with opportunities for wildlife, The Beast was in tow.

For the first hour there was not much action in the feathered category.  I decided to focus on some large butterflies while Linda busied herself with some water landscape shots.  From there we moved deeper into the State Park when Linda (so she says) pointed out a reddish bird sitting in the dense trees.  Having learned from previous mistakes, I dropped the tripod down and did my best to get a preliminary shot so I wouldn’t be leaving empty handed.  Once I had sufficient attempts  from afar, I slowly moved in to try and better the shot.  Out of all of them, this is probably the best one.

Hit the jump to see more pictures of this distinctive bird  … prepare yourself, some are a little scary

Continue reading Another Check in the Bird List – The Scarlet Tanager

That’s the Rooster, she stole my two dollars

roosterThought I would just throw out a couple of quick observations over the last week or so.  My favorite so far has to be something overheard during the Jan 1st Outback Bowl featuring Iowa Hawkeyes vs. the S. Carolina Gamecocks.  Iowa is a heated rival in my household since my wife is from the state of Iowa and I went to the land of Chief Illiniwek (you can strong arm it out of our weak university governing boards, but you are not removing it from the hearts of those who attended there and understand the difference between a mascot and a revered symbol).  However, since the Illini didn’t pull out the juicer at the end of the year, we were stuck watching from the comfort of our living rooms where Hersey was cheering from the sidelines in Tampa.  It was basically playing in the background as I did some odd work around the house when the game must have hit a low point. This forced the announcers to look for something else to talk about.  Once again, I failed to set up my PVR on delay mode in order to review or capture things that catch my attention.  This happens all the time with headline news and I keep promising myself I’ll get that set up.

I am unable to remember exactly where in the game the discussion occurred, but the producer panned down to the field where I think Rob Stone was standing next to the Gamecocks’ mascot which happens to be a rooster named Sir Big Spur.  Rob proceeds to place a mirror in front of it where it responds in the expected manner by pecking at the opposing rooster.  This continues on for what seems like eternity… rooster pecking, pecking, pecking, pecking … against the mirror.  Rob proceeds to explain how this particular bird would continue this fight until the death.  More pecking, pecking, pecking and then either Sean McDonough or Chris Spielman (my money is on the latter since he has a history of similar statements) says something like “[how long are we going to have to see this rooster…. he or she what is it Rob?]”  Again, I wish I had it on PVR to be more accurate.  I will let you think about that for a minute before I spoil the fun.  Did you put two and two together yet?  Rob hesitated a little (probably trying to figure out the appropriate response) and issues “well, it is a rooster so it is a he otherwise it would be called a HEN”.  If I can track down the accurate quotes, I’ll update this post – so no, I didn’t mess up the title to this post.

Lastly for today, my wife was walking through Kohls right after Christmas and passed by a kid that was extremely excited about his Kohls gift certificate he received.  He was eager to spend it and was busy telling the people he was with that he had $38 to spend.  Linda thought that was an odd amount to get a gift certificate for (and the reason she mentioned it to me when she returned home).  I had to agree and spent some time trying to figure out a combination that makes logical sense.   One person giving $2 short of $40, two groups going in for $19 a piece, a group of 7 each giving $5 and 3 of them throwing in an extra $1, a group of 38 each giving $1.  It just seems odd, but I am sure I just missing something glaringly obvious.  Before I get the comment on $38 is a lot of money for a family etc. etc., that is not the point of the observation.  It is a very nice gift and the child was clearly excited about it.  The strange amount is the part that is throwing me off.  $2 more gives it an even amount and I doubt that amount is going to break anyone shopping at Kohls.  $3 less makes $35 and I am guessing that would be just as exciting to the kid.  The only thought at the moment is the kid new exactly what he wanted already and the parents included the tax etc, for that particular purchase.  But I would expect in that case, my wife would overhear comments about the specific item he was going to obtain as opposed to the dollar amount that was going to be spent.  It was an odd scenario and that is what we are all about here.

That is all for now and stay away from those female roosters.