This female northern cardinal visiting the bird bath for a drink gave me my first belly laugh of the day.Her plumes on her crest stood up like flames in the wind. Despite the winter-y blast of heavy snow in the mid-western states, we're having mild temperatures and blustery pre-March winds in Tennessee. And if that weren't enough to hint of spring, birds are showing signs of spring molting. Just twelve days ago, I snapped the image below, of a female cardinal in the snow. She was fluffed and warm in her thick winter plumage. But in the days since, we've had more moderate weather with some days reaching as high as the 70's F.
Hermit thrushes are best known in Tennessee as a migrant and wintering resident, generally arriving in October and departing by early April. Breeding seasons have only been sparsely recorded in Tennessee in the higher elevations of Roan Mountain and the Great Smoky Mountains (Atlas of the Breeding Birds of TN, ed. Charles P Nicholson.)
When this thrush turned, giving me nice looks at her body proportions and rust tail, I thought she was leaving.
But she lingered a few minutes longer and reached from the side to take several more drinks. Sigh. One of many special moments enjoyed in the backyard.
Links and Resources:
Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Tennessee, edited by Charles P. Nicholson. This book is out of print and pricey on the secondary market, but with patience, you may find lowered pricing on Amazon with time.
And more about cardinals and molting in A Day-making Family of Cardinals
If you have not already signed the petition requesting a new management plan for the Eastern Population of Sandhill cranes, visit the petition site right now and voice your opinion on this important conservation issue. Kentucky is battling a sandhill crane hunting proposal similar to the one deferred in Tennessee. We have a lot of work left to do to protect this population that has only recently recovered from near extirpation. To read more visit A New Plan for Eastern Sandhills.
Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #130 at Birdfreak.com to promote the conservation of our world's birds.