Herring Gulls chip away at the icy surface of the Horicon Marsh to find frozen fish underneath. It is not a good idea to flaunt your fish filet.
This juvenile Herring Gull aggressively responds to a gull that got too close to its fishing hole.
The birds battle for open fishing holes. If a gull gets a large piece of fish, the rest of the flock gather around to try and steal some for themselves.
After chaotic flapping of wings and loud squawking, a victor eats the spoil.
Meanwhile, the Canada Geese were honking, hissing, and sticking out their tongues in their own displays of aggression.
They flare their wings and run offenders off of their turf, a muskrat house, in this case.
In contrast to the aggressive displays of the gulls and geese, the pretty House Sparrow is content to flit and perch in shrubs along the Marsh.
According to the American Museum of Natural History’s Birds of North America: Eastern Region, House Sparrows are a member of the Eurasian family called weaver-finches. The House Sparrow was first introduced in Brooklyn, New York in 1850 and is now one of North American’s most common birds.
The American Goldfinch perches peacefully with the House Sparrows.
Bird activity is increasing at the Horicon Marsh as we head into spring!
A small flock of American Goldfinches flitted among the shrubs this morning at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. The nonbreeding plumage of the male is striking and a glimpse of its showy plumage to come this spring. American Goldfinches breed later than most North American birds. They wait until June when they can pluck the fluffy seeds of wild thistles to line their nests.
Canada Geese were flying and honking overhead. The Marsh is still covered in ice, but these are signs that spring is just around the corner.
The American Goldfinch is a beautiful finch with a pretty song. It is so well liked that it is the state bird in three states. Can you name them?
It is a gorgeous evening at the Education and Visitor Center on Highway 28. A cheery field of yellow coneflowers is in full bloom next to the parking area. Goldfinches are flitting about. They are more interested in the Bull Thistles along the edge of the field than they are in the coneflowers. The thistle’s bright pink flowers are a wonderful contrast to the sunny yellow field behind them. American Goldfinches are vegetarians. They love the seeds of the Bull Thistle. Downy white fibers are being flung everywhere as they hungrily eat the seeds while perched on the flower heads.
I heard one singing outside my bedroom window recently. I wondered what bird had such a lovely song. A Goldfinch was perched on a tree branch several feet from my window. I could not resist taking a photo but I had to shoot through the window screen. I stood several feet away from the screen and the bird was several feet behind the screen. I chose the widest aperture I could with the lens I was using. (f 6.3 at 600 mm) By choosing a wide aperture with a shallow depth of field, I was able to get the bird in focus and the screen went out of focus, essentially disappearing. This technique would not have worked if the bird was right next to the screen.
Whether they are out in the wild, or out in the yard, American Goldfinches are a delight. Are you still wondering about the three states? They are Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington.