This Forster’s Tern expected to be waited on for dinner. She stayed perched on the post and made no attempt to dive for fish. Forster’s Terns look similar to Common Terns. Forster’s Terns have longer tail feathers than wing feathers. They have a large orange bill with a black tip, light gray feathers on their back, and white underparts. Common terns have shorter tail feathers than wing feathers, gray bodies that blend in with their gray backs, and reddish orange bills with black tips.
Instead of working for her dinner, she started calling. She quickly became more insistent, much like chicks do when they are begging for food.
Her valiant knight in shining feathers flew in with the gift of a fish.
This courtship feeding often occurs after the pair bond has formed. In terns, either sex may feed the other, but it is usually triggered by the female, according to the book Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide by Audubon.
She gratefully accepts the fish and swallows it whole. The ritual was repeated until her appetite was satisfied. It was a successful dinner date that strengthened their bond.
Another bird having dinner on the south side of Highway 49 at the Horicon Marsh was the American Bittern. His color pattern, especially the streaks on his neck, are effective camouflage. He stood very still, stretched his neck upward, and looked up to blend in with the vertical reeds.
He stretched his neck horizontally when he was getting ready to eat.
It only took a split second to pluck an unsuspecting fish from the water. He tossed it with his bill a couple of times before swallowing it whole.
The Double-crested Cormorant dives underwater until he is totally submerged. He also likes to eat fish. He can hold his breath for more than a minute. His blue eyes are stunning and unexpected.
This muddy duck is also a diver, which is no surprise by looking at him.
Here he is all cleaned up. His real name is Ruddy Duck. He dives for aquatic plants, insects, and crustaceans. It was a treat to watch the birds eating at the Horicon Marsh buffet.
It’s nesting season at the Horicon Marsh! This American Robin wants to make as few trips as possible to build her nest. She will make an average of 180 trips per day for 2-6 days. Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer and Build by Peter Goodfellow is a helpful reference book about different types of bird nests, if you would like to learn more about the fascinating art and science of nest building.
The reconstructed boardwalk on the Egret Trail, on the auto tour off of Highway 49, is showing signs of progress. It is scheduled to open on July 1, 2017. The auto tour is now open to vehicles. There was a parade of us driving through and enjoying the warm weather today. A fellow birding enthusiast said there were several types of warblers in the woods near the parking area by the Egret Trail.
A painted turtle enjoys the sunshine. I like the symmetry of the branch and its reflection.
Numerous pairs of Black-necked Stilts waded in the water along the auto tour and in the water along Highway 49. They have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird. Do you know what bird leads the list? Tell us what you think in the comments area.
This Black-necked Stilt was as excited as I was to be out on the auto tour again.
Thanks to the avid birder who pointed out this nesting pair of Great Horned Owls in a woods along the Bachhuber Loop at the Education and Visitor Center at the Horicon Marsh. The female is resting in the nest while the male is out getting food. She blends in beautifully with the pile of leaves that makes up her nest. From a distance, I didn’t see her.
The distinctive tufts or “horns” are not used for hearing. Their sensitive hearing is, in part, due to facial disc feathers that direct sound waves to their ears. It is possible that the tufts help to camouflage the owl by breaking up its shape and helping it to blend in with its perch. Others believe the tufts help with behavior signaling and species recognition. Owls also have interesting eyes that do not move in their sockets. They can turn their heads 180 degrees to see in all directions. Today, they just looked straight at me. We can look forward to seeing one to four fluffy owlets peeking their heads over the side of the nest soon.