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Sharing in Siouxland, Sioux City

1 Feb
A female house finch takes a drink of water from a bird bath in a backyard residence in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While watching critters, birds and other animals in Siouxland, I am sometimes amazed at the civil behavior I witness. When photographing birds feeding they will often times work to move one another out of the way so they too can get a “seat at the table” of a particular bird feeder. But watching a couple of house finches, which could actually be mates, the male watched as the female drank from a bird feeder and then helped himself. Whether planned or not or behavioral or not, this particular day the male was chivalrous to the female until they drank their fill and left.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A female and male house finch share a bird bath for a drink for a drink in a backyard residence in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Birds on a Stick in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD and Sioux City

22 Jan
An Eastern Kingbird sits on a plant stem at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A black capped chickadee sits on a branch as summer winds down and fall begins in the backyard of a residence Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As I began photographing more birds both near home and in parks around Siouxland I began to pay more attention to the perches these feathered folk use. Sometimes it is very sturdy and at others it seems to follow that phrase “any port in a storm” where they may situate themselves as they take stock of the surrounding area. Birds in some of the parks have sometimes more choice for perches, as often times these places also provide a kind of prairie habitat which is generally not available in neighborhoods within a community.

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a plant stem at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow watches from a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow sits on a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And photographing in these two different places create their own challenges. In a neighborhood one can sit a spell, especially near feeders and birds will come and go and possible give more opportunities to photograph them as they rest on a perch before heading to a feeder. Whereas in the park’s meadow area the birds can see you coming from some distance off and I have found one is only able to get so close necessitating the use of a long lens often times with a teleconverter to make an image of the bird “in the wild” so to speak. And of course as in so many things, timing is everything. Sometimes the act of bringing a camera to one’s eye will spook a bird so one needs to be aware and judge how close and how long one wants to hold a lens up into a position to get a photograph of a particular subject.

In the meadow areas using a tripod or monopod is just another piece of gear to carry for some distance, possibly a few miles while hiking, which is not always fun and tiring. So trade offs are made while one “enjoys” oneself out in nature with possibly the benefit of a photograph of some creature also enjoying the day.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a plant stem at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 27, 2022 in North Sioux City, SD. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house finch sits on a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow looks directly at a visitor in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.(photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An Eastern Kingfisher studies its surroundings from a tree branch overhanging Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Out on a Limb in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve and residences in North Sioux City, SD and Sioux City

6 Jan
A Northern Flicker perches in a tree at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When I walk about nature places in Siouxland I always keep an eye out for birds. I find it challenging to be able to photograph these little guys/gals. Quick and small and generally pausing only momentarily, I’ve learned it takes considerable skill to get a photograph. And many times I am feeling more lucky than good at taking a photo. Some are nice images of the birds, some are just decent and then some I am really happy with that I was able to make an image. And it doesn’t matter the species, although it is nice when it’s a bird I don’t photograph often. But if the little one gives me attitude and makes for a delightful photo, I am happy.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet takes a different view of the world around it while sitting high in a tree at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A turkey vulture sits in a tree top taking in the scene around it at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in North Sioux City, South Dakota Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak sits on a branch while checking out a suet feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 8, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A house finch watches the backyard at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Last year’s winter was warmer than what seemed normal with little to no snow. This year the weather is considerably colder with more snow and now ice storms mixed with snow. Some winter days I like sitting in one spot to photograph small song birds, but so far this winter the weather with its minus 30-40 degree temperatures has made me wary of frostbite just being outside too long.

But spring will eventually come and hopefully warmer temperatures, even in the high 20’s or 30’s with little wind would be pleasant enough to sit outside for a bit to capture these little guys in a different season and scenario. Plus the practice wouldn’t hurt.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Possibly a flycatcher sits on a branch at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Monday, Sept. 27, 2021 in North Sioux City, South Dakota. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Wood ducks hang out in a tree during morning hours at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday April 28, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

House finches wait their turn at a bird feeder birds in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, January 7, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A black capped chickadee sits on a branch as summer winds down and fall begins in the backyard of a residence Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow sits on a branch in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An Eastern Kingfisher studies its surroundings from a tree branch overhanging Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Grey Catbird calls from a small tree off of Butcher Rd. that abuts the Nature Conservancy Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve Saturday, July 16, 2022 near Westfield, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A red-tailed hawk sits perches on a branch looking or a snack at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday Oct. 22, 2021.
A sparrow eats a seed in the backyard of a residence Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Sparrows sit in a tree in the backyard of a residence Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow appears to give the “stick eye” to a visitor watching it in the backyard of a residence Saturday, November 19, 2022 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Until Next Year in Siouxland, Backyard Birds, Sioux City

31 Dec
A white-breasted nuthatch holds onto a seed it pulled from a feeder in the backyard of a residence Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As the winter temperatures yo-yo back and forth between warmish and downright cold in Siouxland, I thought I would pay tribute to some backyard visitors until next year when the weather will be decidedly more pleasant. Cool is not bad, downright freezing is not. I would guess some of the visitors might be regular, but still they stayed long enough for me to attempt photographs, many of them, and I hope to see them back next year as the days grow longer and warmer.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A red headed woodpecker poses for a photograph in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, November 15, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An American goldfinch poses on a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house finch checks out a visitor while visiting a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house sparrow comments about a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An American Goldfinch enjoys a snack at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday May 10, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow munches on seeds at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, January 16, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A downy woodpecker eats some suet in the backyard of a residence Sunday, December 26, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A sparrow munches on seeds at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, January 16, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Freezing One’s A__ Off in Siouxland, Sioux City

27 Dec
Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as a squirrel feeds on corn while covered in blowing snow flakes trying to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like much of the Midwest and other parts of the country the Siouxland region was in an arctic freezer recently, with temperatures dipping to -44 degrees with windchill and wind gusts of 30-40 mph. I bundled up to clear sidewalks, which later covered again with the wind blowing, and filled feeders. I feel bad for the little critters spending the cold outdoors and so like to see that they have something to eat. And also filled some water bowls I keep outside, which froze over in just minutes. Even heated water bowls I keep outside during the winter were freezing over with just small areas visible without frost or ice. It’s pretty amazing and scary it’s so cold.

As temperatures for the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Northeastern Nebraska are expected to remain at -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind wind gusts still up to 40 mph, house sparrows drink from a heated pet water bowl outdoors in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, photographed through a doorway window pane.
Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as house finches and sparrows feed at a backyard feeder then fly to nearby bushes with puffed out feathers trying to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Photographs of the birds eating do not really tell the story of the frigid weather. Interestingly enough I had to wait a few minutes for the lens to acclimate outdoors as my first set of photos appeared not sharp, and luckily I could stay in a corner area outdoors that was somewhat protected from the wind. The birds though were thoroughly enjoying themselves and the eats and I was happy to see that.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as sparrows feed on fallen seed from a backyard feeder as they try to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house finch flies to another feeder as temperatures for the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Northeastern Nebraska are expected to remain at -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind wind gusts still up to 40 mph, in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Dec. 23, 2022.
Frigid winter weather has temperatures around a -15 degrees Fahrenheit, and wind gusts up to 40 mph making the windchill feel like -44 degrees Fahrenheit, as sparrows puff out their feathers on a fence line in between trips to backyard feeders trying to stay warm in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
As temperatures for the Siouxland region which includes western Iowa, southeastern South Dakota and Northeastern Nebraska are expected to remain at -30 degrees Fahrenheit with wind wind gusts still up to 40 mph, house sparrows drink from a heated pet water bowl outdoors in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, photographed through a doorway window pane.

Thinking Warm Thoughts in Siouxland, Loess Hills Audubon Society, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

21 Dec
Loess Hills Audubon club members out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count started recently here in Siouxland and elsewhere and runs from Dec. 14, 2022 through Jan. 5, 2023. People from throughout the U.S. will go out and record what species they find and share that for the organization’s data base and ongoing tracking of bird movement. With colder temperatures descending into the Siouxland region expected soon it will be a far cry when members of the Loess Hills Audubon group took a bird walk about Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve in August of this year. Short sleeve shirts, shorts and some with sandals, that won’t be the attire needed to walk about and look this winter.

A swallowtail butterfly seen while Loess Hills Audubon club members were out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A song bird seen while Loess Hills Audubon club members were out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A song bird nestled in a cedar tree spotted by members of the Loess Hills Audubon club out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

According to a Connecticut chapter of the Audubon Society the Christmas bird count is one of the longest-running wildlife censuses in the world. And because of the time of year, different species will be found in different places. I have attended some winter bird counts in the past hosted by the local Loess Hills Audubon Society and the folk are very dedicated in looking and finding species that will help educate humans about this particular animal kingdom.

I have just not been keen on those very cold, cold mornings and rising before the sun to get out and look for the birds. For me it’s always about photographing what is at hand, and shooting in the dark has its own challenges.

I haven’t decided yet if I want to make another attempt this year or not in getting back out into the cold, all the while thinking about those spring, summer and early fall expeditions looking for birds and enjoying those warmer temperatures. Although I always dress appropriately and don’t really feel the cold, getting over the inertia to get out of bed is it’s own challenge. I just enjoy my coffee later in the morning all the more.

Loess Hills Audubon club members out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Loess Hills Audubon club members out birding prior to the start of the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But looking for birds and trying to photograph them is always run, no matter the time of day or wind chill degree. It makes more a good story later on.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Residents of Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve make their way back to the barn in preparation for visitors during the 25th anniversary of the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A painted turtle enjoying a morning sun basking at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve celebration in North Sioux City, South Dakota, Saturday, August 13, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sharing in Siouxland, Backyard Birds, Sioux City

3 Nov

Sparrows munch on seeds at a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, January 16, 2022. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes it’s nice to have a companion when sitting down for a meal. Sharing the day’s tribulations and other goings on plus events happening around, “the feeder”. Many times I catch the feathered friends sharing a feeder and eating quickly as they gorge, fly off, and return to gorge again. The fall I haven’t seen as many passing birds it seems going through the area, at least in my neighborhood, but I know that must be flying through to new destinations. Fall is slowly progressing. Cold days and nights, warm days and nights, it’s been an unusual fall. And anticipating it will continue to be so. Can’t say I mind the slow progression.

When winter arrives all the news says it will be extremely cold and lots and lots of snow. I like the idea of lots and lots of snow, but the extreme cold is getting old and it doesn’t allow the snow to leave until sometime in March or April.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Backyard birds share a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Backyard birds sharing a feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A common house sparrow chases another away from a backyard feeder at a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Shhhhhh! Don’t Wake the Babies in Siouxland, Sioux City

4 Sep

Baby house sparrows call out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I’ve noticed some noisy neighbors recently in the area and it has been a bit fun to watch and mostly listen to the little guys/gals as mom or dad flies to and fro feeding them. But I can’t figure out how all three of the baby sparrows plus an adult fit into the birdhouse.

An adult house sparrow has a mouth full of food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult house sparrow has a mouth full of food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Baby house sparrows go quiet calling out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And I imagine at some point the little dears will be ready to fly off and just hope they make it on their life’s journey. Other neighbors, furry ones, hear the cries of “feed me” and watch longingly from afar, possibly thinking of their own meal.

Nature is what it is. But one hopes like with all living beings they get a chance, but sometimes it sees chance can be a good or bad encounter.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Baby house sparrows call out from a bird house for food from their parents in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An adult house sparrow looks about before flying to a feeder for another batch of baby food for its nestlings in a bird house in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa, Wednesday, August 3, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A Little “Mourning Dove” Pick Me Up in Siouxland, Sioux City

15 Jul

Mourning Dove perches in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday May 14, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

During a current hot spell in Siouxland I might poke my head out my door in the morning to see what the weather is like and sometimes sit outside enjoying the bird song as backyard visitors stop by for a snack or a meal. But these days the afternoons are insufferable with the heat and humidity so I don’t sit out there watching my “guests” come and go. I have to refill the feeders so I know they are still stopping by and am glad of it. Hoping for a cool weather interlude, if only for a day or so to start the morning with some fresh air before hibernating from the heat that surely will follow.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Two Mourning Doves perch in a tree in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday May 14, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Knock, Knock, Knocking on the Door in Siouxland, Sioux City

13 Jul

A downy woodpecker visits a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Many mornings when it’s pleasant enough to sit outside in the morning to enjoy that first “cup of Joe” in Siouxland I will hear a familiar reframe. Knock, knock, knock, knock in a staccato kind of fashion. And then see the visitor looking for a more reliable treat after checking the usual spots for insects. Nothing wrong with a little desert.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A downy woodpecker visits a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker visits a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A downy woodpecker visits a feeder in the backyard of a residence in Sioux City, Iowa Friday, April 1, 2022. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
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