Mysteries And Celebrations

A Song Sparrow at sunrise, April 26, 2016.

A Song Sparrow at sunrise, April 26, 2016.

Tuesday was a day of mystery and celebration.

The first mystery strode along the edge of the pond. His head bobbed up and down. He stopped for a moment, called, and then listened. A reply came from somewhere in the marsh.

The second mystery zig-zagged in the water near the bank stopping to dig in the mud from time to time. He had spots on his front and his wings. He encountered a mystery of his own in the form of a tennis ball in the mud.

The third mystery sang from a dried plant in the meadow. At first, I saw only his silhouette. He flew to another dried plant and hid in its branches. I followed him for a while, but he stayed well ahead of me. He was the size of a song sparrow. He had stripes on his head. His song was two short notes and then a trill which sounded like a cricket or a grasshopper.

I had to look in the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America on my desk to find the names of the three birds: solitary sandpiper, spotted sandpiper, and grasshopper sparrow. The solitary sandpiper is migrating. His summer range is to the north in Canada. The spotted sandpiper and the grasshopper sparrow spend the summer here. I think I saw a spotted sandpiper once last year. I am intrigued by the grasshopper sparrow. This is the first time that I have seen one and I have lived in their summer range all of my life. I didn’t recognize his song. I will be listening and watching for him now.

A song sparrow celebrated the sunrise over by the cottonwood tree.

I passed by the marsh on my way home. A flock of red-winged blackbirds competed for attention singing and showing off their red feathers. A Canadian goose sat on the top of a muskrat pushup. I think she has made a nest there. I am hoping the mallard ducks will nest in the marsh like they did two years ago. I didn’t see any mallard ducks on Tuesday morning. A flash of yellow caught my eye in the grass before the tree line. It was a male American goldfinch in his bright yellow summer feathers!

A Solitary Sandpiper at dawn, April 26, 2016.

A Solitary Sandpiper at dawn, April 26, 2016.

A Solitary Sandpiper at dawn, April 26, 2016. He calls at 10.4 seconds. A second Solitary Sandpiper calls in reply from somewhere in the marsh at 13 seconds.

A Solitary Sandpiper call, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper examining a tennis ball on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper examining a tennis ball on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Spotted Sandpiper on the edge of the pond, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow on a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

A Grasshopper Sparrow singing from a dried plant in the meadow, April 26, 2016.

An audio clip of a Grasshopper Sparrow singing, April 26, 2016. Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, and frogs are singing in the background.

A Red-winged Blackbird in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird singing in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird singing in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird flying over the marsh, April 26, 2016.

A Red-winged Blackbird flying over the marsh, April 26, 2016.

Red-winged Blackbirds singing and showing off their red feathers in the marsh, April 26, 2016.

An audio clip of the Red-winged Blackbirds calling and singing, April 26, 2016. Meadowlarks, Robins, and frogs are singing in the background.

A Canadian Goose sitting on the top of a muskrat pushup in the marsh, April 26, 2016. I think the goose has made a nest there and she is sitting on her eggs. She didn't move when I walked by.

A Canadian Goose sitting on the top of a muskrat pushup in the marsh, April 26, 2016. I think she has made a nest there.

A male American Goldfinch eating dandelion seeds, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch eating dandelion seeds, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch eating dandelion seeds, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch eating dandelion seeds, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch in a flowering tree, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch in a flowering tree, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch in a flowering tree, April 26, 2016.

A male American Goldfinch in a flowering tree, April 26, 2016.

Take care and thanks for reading.

Sarah

About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and runner
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11 Responses to Mysteries And Celebrations

  1. Shady_Grady says:

    I like the pics of the blackbird and the grasshopper sparrow. The sparrow was hard to see initially. Maybe he’s also hard to see to his predators. Good pic choices!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and your kind words! 🙂 It is a good survival strategy for such a small bird to be concealed. 🙂 There are a lot of hawks around here and they don’t have the same kindly intent for the songbirds as I do. I did think the photos were like one of those “find the hidden object” games. 🙂 I noticed him because he was singing, and when I looked around, I saw him trying to keep his balance on one of the dried plants.

      I am happy you like the photos of the red-winged blackbirds. They are another one of my favorites and have been keeping me company for years. I see them as a character in a story. 🙂 They are so full of drama! I was watching them along the highway on the trip a few weeks ago to Allerton. Their song is one of the first of the spring. They deal with predators by having their family members within easy calling distance. I have seen them chase away a hawk. This spring when they first arrived in the park, it was three or four at a time not one by one.

  2. zirah1 says:

    Good post. Love the bright colors of the goldfinch when I see them around here. Just so dramatic and uplifting. And I’ve never heard of a grasshopper sparrow.I assume they mainly eat grasshoppers? And I especially love the first pic of the song sparrow at sunrise. Very striking….almost looks like a wood block print (or at least I think that’s what they’re called).

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Zirah 🙂

      Thanks for visiting and your kind thoughts! I am happy you enjoyed the post. 🙂 I get excited when I see the goldfinches in their summer coat for the first time. 🙂 They like to fly in the trees along the sidewalk where I run. Often, I see a half-dozen or more flying from tree to tree following a path which makes sense only to them.

      The grasshopper sparrows eat small insects, seeds, and fruit like the other sparrows. I think their name comes from the sound of their song. The trill sounds very much like a grasshopper or cricket to me. They are also very shy birds. They stick close to the ground. The one I saw was alternating between hiding in the branches of the dried plants and in the grass. He was keeping his eye on me and his distance from me. 🙂 I am wondering why I haven’t see one before. If I did hear one before, I might have confused the sound with the insects. The volume of the nature song is increasing as the days go by. The latest noticeable addition is the frogs.

      I like the photo of the song sparrow as well. 🙂 Song sparrows are a favorite of mine to start with and I like the pattern of the branches woven around him. He was perfectly framed and I told him so while I watched him sing to the sunrise. 🙂

      • zirah1 says:

        Love your additional input and descriptive language. Perfectly framed is a good way to describe that sparrow. I even thought it would make a good print for someone to have on their wall.

        • Sarah says:

          Hi Zirah 🙂
          Thank you for your input. 🙂 As it happens, I have been thinking today about one of the projects I am working on this year which is to have a little store where prints can be purchased. I am very happy to hear which ones you like. 🙂 At some point, I will be deciding which photos to include. I know the ones I like, but every one sees things differently and I love to hear why someone is drawn to one photo or another.

          • zirah1 says:

            Great. I think you have a real talent for telling engaging, educational, entertaining stories and events and eye for capturing the beauty and mystery of the natural world. I think it would be wonderful if you were able to put at least part of what you do to work for you in bringing in resources and enriching people’s lives in the process.

  3. Wonderful, such slight and fascinating differences in plumage from the European birds. I wonder about their songs. Not sure either why I’ve been missing your posts but good to catch up!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi 🙂 Thank you for visiting and your comments! I am happy to hear from you. 🙂 I was thinking of you when I wrote the Pelican post and made a little mental post-it note to see what you’d been up to on your blog when the week was finished. Had fun reading your posts. 🙂 Time speeds by. Now, it is spring and I feel drawn to spend as much time outside as possible. I haven’t read any natural history for a long while, but I would like to again. It is interesting to look at the birds on different continents and see the similarities and differences in plumage and song. The arrangement of the land masses used to look very different and birds are as old as the dinosaurs. They are all distant cousins. 🙂

      • Indeed they are and it seems their brains are quite large in comparison to their body. They are intelligent and not bird brained. Yes, I have been spending time outside and am now on my travels in UK but have some posts ready if I get time!

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