My buddy and fellow outdoor writer/photographer, John Flores, lives down in the Morgan City area of south Louisiana. Some of the photos he's been passing along recently via Face Book have had me mesmerized.
John has been making daily visits to a wildlife preserve near his home and capturing stunning images of song birds; those that have spent the winter in Central America, made the non-stop flight across the Gulf and stopped over for rest and food before taking off again for the northern U.S. where they rear their young and spend the summer.
Living nearly 300 miles further north, we don't get the profusion of neo-tropical birds here like folks along the coast get to experience. Nevertheless, we get stragglers in our woods and around our feeders that will be with us only a few weeks before they pack up and head north. Some species, however, nest and spend summers in our woods and yards.
April 15 is a date that "lives in infamy" for tax payers; it's the deadline for filing income taxes. For me, however, this date has taken on new significance over the years, making the paying of taxes a little more bearable. This is about the time when some of our avian visitors arrive every year; I make sure my feeders are filled and my binoculars and camera are close at hand.
After the juncos leave and the gold finches put on their golden coats and head north, I'm on the lookout for three particular species that will move in to take their places in the yard and thickets around the house.
Two weeks ago, the first arrival, a handsome blue grosbeak, made its initial appearance at the feeder. When these birds arrive, I know two other species have ridden their tail wind north and I'm on the lookout. Last week, a brilliant cobalt blue indigo bunting, along with its less flashy attired mate, fluttered down to feed on the ground beneath the feeder.
That's two of the three I look for from mid-April on every year. Sadly, I really don't expect to see the third species of the April 15 trifecta. For ten straight years, painted buntings arrived in my yard within a few days of the same time every April. I haven't seen one in the yard in at least five years. With a bright blue head, crimson breast and bright chartreuse shoulder patch, the painted bunting is, hands down, one of the most beautiful birds the Good Lord ever created.
With the arrival of May, another handsome fellow, the rose breasted grosbeak, shows up, hanging around for a week or so on its way north. I saw my first last week; my friend John Flores suggested that the unusually windy weather we've had across the state for weeks may have pushed some of the birds on north earlier than normal; I don't recall ever seeing these birds prior to May 1.
With a heavy white beak, black coat and white breast highlighted by a crimson throat triangle, you can't miss these pretty fellows.
Now that hunting seasons are all but over until this fall, we outdoors-minded folks have to find something else to occupy our interest. Of course, fishing is taking off like gang busters, black berries and huckleberries are starting to ripen and there are shed buck antlers lying around your woods just waiting for you to beat the squirrels to them.
For me, nothing captivates my interest more this time of year than keeping the feeders filled, the camera handy and hoping against hope that my long-lost buddy, the painted bunting, will honor me with an appearance.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.