Friday, February 22, 2013

Birds With Horns!

There is something nice and clean and crisp about bird pictures on or in snow!  I brought the camera to work this morning for some reason, thinking maybe I'd see one of the small flocks of Snow Buntings and/or Horned Larks and Longspurs that I've spotted from time to time on my way to (almost never from) work over the last weeks.  I say "or" because I've only confirmed the Snow Buntings and not the other two till this morning.  The three birds often will mingle together in their small flocks, scavenging the snow for seeds in open fields, and along the sides of the roads picking up sand for grit.

male (l) and female (r) Horned Larks

At the new intersection corner of Hwy 5 and 8 south, I spotted a small group of about 10 birds flying short distance through the sparse weeds which had just had time to regrow after the construction of the traffic circle at Peter's Corners.  Up until recently, I had assumed every bird that size was a sparrow (or otherwise, affectionately referred to as "little brown jobbies".  A more careful look pays off.  They were all Horned Larks.

female Horned Lark

Horned Larks are larks (surprise) that live in much of North America, but breed in the Arctic tundra and southern plains and into Ontario with a strange "hole" in the middle (see the range map at Cornell's site.  I wonder what causes the "donut" effect.

I was only able to take pictures from the car window.  After doing a contortionist move to switch from the driver seat to the passenger without getting out of the car, I got these shots in the dull, overcast light of the morning.  They were busy eating seeds and singing away with their busy, chipper songs.

male (l) and female (r) Horned Lark

The last picture is nothing great, but shows the little feather tufts which give it the look of having small horns, thus the name.  You probably need to view the picture full size to really see them.  This was life bird number #112.

You can just see the tufts of feathers,
"horns" that are its name's sake.

Spring is coming soon, though I would certainly enjoy some more winter yet - seems we only really had one good snow fall, and temperatures which keep going up and down like a yo-yo!

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff Brian! I recall this being an exciting bird to 'lifer'... They have alot of cool colours and the horns are neat as well. Only birders get to appreciate these cool birds! I have a video of some snow buntings, horned larks, and one or two Lapland Longspurs. The Longspur can be seen in the center of the frame during the first 5 seconds.


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