Sunday, March 24, 2013

Herons, Loons, Grebes, Ducks, Towhees- Oh my!

By Matthias Benko

Matthias (on-scope) with other IYB's checking out a Ruddy Duck!
Yesterday, The IYBC took an amazing field trip to the Heron Rookery in Hamilton County. All who participated in the event are now experts on Great Blue Herons.  A few facts about herons include that they have something called nuptial plumes connected to their head during breeding season (February-July), there is almost no way to tell males and females apart, and they nest in trees! That’s kind of counterintuitive  right? I thought wading birds nest on ground near water.  I was totally wrong. However, besides seeing tons of Great Blue Herons and their nests, we saw much more. There was a Common Loon that flew over the place where we met.  Among the Loon, we also saw the following (brace yourselves, there is a lot): European Starlings, American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds,  a Pileated Woodpecker, a pair of Wood Ducks, a male American Kestrel, a female Northern Flicker, and a male Eastern Towhee (a new bird for me, I had only seen a female twice before.) Then, after someone had guessed the “secret duck” for a field guide, we decided to head off on another adventure.

IYB's on 3-23-13!!  Matthias (left)
The Star of the Show!  A Great Blue Heron.  Photo by Ceth Williams
The Morse Reservoir is a place I had never visited before. I honestly had no idea what I was missing out on! There were Common Loons in full plumage (a lifer for me), Horned Grebes in mid-molt (another lifer), Mute Swans, American Coots, Mallards, and Ruddy Ducks (yet another lifer). I also found out by talking to Rob Ripma that one of my spark birds was a Harris’s Sparrow! (At that time, I was not a very seasoned birder.) All in all, this trip was worth it in so many varied ways. I am proud to call myself a part of the Indiana Young Birders’ Club.  

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