Arctic Birds, Large and Small

The Arctic weather in Central New York this month has led me to “go with the flow” when searching for nature photographs. Why not hunt for Arctic wildlife when frigid, windy conditions drive everything else to cover?!  And so I did. My subjects were Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings, birds that summer on the Arctic tundra of the far north and typically winter in Canada and northern U.S. I talked briefly about Snow Buntings in a post last February (“Winter Birds – Northern Visitors” 2/7/13) and Snowy Owls in two recent posts (“A Rare Northern Beauty” 12/20/13 and “A Snowy Christmas Eve” 12/24/13). However, I am mesmerized by these charming winter visitors and their amazing adaptations to harsh winter conditions – and must continue to post my experiences with them!

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A flock of over 100 Snow Buntings flying in a synchronized, undulating wave over an open, weedy field

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Part of a small flock of Snow Buntings that was foraging roadside, a common occurrence

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Snow Buntings feeding on weed seeds in an open, windswept field

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An unusual sighting: a solitary Snow Bunting foraging alone; typical of the species, it was walking, rather than flying, from one plant to another

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Snowy Owl on a utility pole surrounded by open, windswept farmland; a favorite perch for hunting and resting

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The low flight behavior and cryptic coloration characteristic of Snowy Owls

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Snowy Owl canvassing a field of corn stubble for prey, possibly a Meadow Vole

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Mother’s Day Treat: Grosbeaks

Talking about favorites in the natural world is a bit like asking a parent to name a favorite child. However, if pressed to say which backyard songbird I enjoy seeing and photographing the most, my answer might be the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

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We’ve seen them for a few days at the feeders, this year and last, but have gone years with no backyard sightings. We’re well within their summer breeding range and have suitable second-growth woodland and forest edge habitats locally, but I don’t know if these birds are residents or on their way to points north in the US or Canada.

I have yet to capture really good images of the female, so will feature the male in this post.

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All photos by NB Hunter