Tag Archives: birds

Spring Slowly Arrives in Siouxland, Sioux City

14 Mar
Another starling looks to join a crowd of birds around the top of a chimney for warmth Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. While temperatures today are above zero compared to the last few days and evenings of -20 degrees weather, birds are still looking for warmer days. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As spring slowly gets to Siouxland and other parts of the country, the lingering cold is still a reminder of the winter that was this year. Recently temperatures have been in the 50’s and 60’s, but cooler temps are predicted and the previous 14 days of below freezing temperatures in February, many approaching -40 degrees with wind chill was tough to deal with.

Birds in the area looked for warmth where they could find it, trying to crowd in to a space that would help them survive, even if it was in the open. Time will tell if spring is really come to stay, or just toying with everyone hopeful for warmer and sunnier days.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Starlings crowd around the top of a chimney for warmth Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021 in Sioux City, Iowa. While temperatures today are above zero compared to the last few days and evenings of -20 degrees weather, birds are still looking for warmer days. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Winter in Siouxland, Sioux City

16 Feb
Birds, possibly starlings, fluff out their feathers to fight off the cold on a chilly winter’s day in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The little rodent, affectionately known as Punxsutawney Phil, has decided it’s seen its shadow, allowing another 6 weeks of winter to linger around the Siouxland area and other places as well. Boogers. It has been a pleasant weather so far as winters go, but the next couple of weeks temps are predicted to stay below freezing and below zero with wind chill taking them down into double digits. Not something I am looking forward too. Bird activity has been mixed with the backyard neighbors scarce some days and around the next.

A red-bellied woodpecker feasts on some bird food in a backyard on a chilly winter’s day in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Long winters can be okay until the temperature dips below zero and then heads into minus double digits because of wind chill, which there seems to be a lot of that in Iowa. One could only imagine settlers on these plains in the 19th century with mud houses on an open plain with the wind howling and dipping temperatures into lows that impossibly frigid.

So spring is on my mind with temperatures in the 30’s. I even like 40’s. Thinking of greening grass and the warm rays of the sun. It will arrive, but at this point seems like somewhere in a distant future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Backyard birds, possibly starlings, sit on a neighbor’s chimney on a chilly winter’s day in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, February 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Valley

1 Jan
A large flock of ducks lift up off of the Missouri River at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

With changing seasons it’s always enjoyable to go to the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley to watch the migration of birds. Mainly ducks, geese and some others. Probably more that I don’t recognize. So it’s always a lucky thing to meet an actual “birder” who will sometimes point out species they are excited to see.

Ducks are seen on the shoreline of the Missouri River from a blind at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An eagle sits atop a tree at another location still along the Missouri River at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Depending on weather one can sometimes find a lot of people or few. Because of the drive time to the refuge I always tend to hit mid-morning which doesn’t find a lot of folk rummaging about yet until later in the day. Unless it’s a really, really special occasion, I never rise before the sun to get there at first light. I realize I am missing photographic opportunities but I like being fully awake while getting to the park. And it seems it’s not until noon or early afternoon that people start showing up in numbers so it’s easy to get about and social distance. Plus, if I don’t see everything at that time, and one doesn’t as various birds continue to migrate on their time table, it gives me another reason to make another trip.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A bicyclist makes his way down a paved road at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An eagle sits atop a tree across the Missouri River at the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge near Missouri Valley, Iowa Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ahh, Relish the Little Birdies in Siouxland, Winnebago, NE

26 Dec
A house sparrow is lost in the fall colors reflected in a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

As winter begins to settle in here in Siouxland I will miss seeing the opportunities for photographing certain possibilities until next year. The reflection of fall colors in a pool of water and how directional light in the morning makes trees come alive with their own “electric” light show.

Sometimes life gets busy and one doesn’t take a moment or two to just enjoy those small things or critters one may see on a daily basis. And especially not stopping to simply watch.

A robin seem to stop and take in the fall colors around Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

If I walk briskly or arrive early to a meeting, how will I be affected if I stop and look and watch for a few seconds, observing nature and finding myself milliseconds behind in my apparent schedule. I would guess I will not be that affected, and probably though, the better for pausing and enjoying what nature provides.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A house sparrow sits in a patch of grass near a small pool of water in Ho Chunk village in Winnebago, NE Friday Oct. 9 2020, and surrounding area. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Nature’s Calligraphers in Siouxland, Snyder’s Bend, Salix

7 Sep

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I often times am awed by nature’s shows that take place in Siouxland and I can witness such feats of aerobatics and and “sky writing” done by birds.

This summer while visiting with a friend at Snyder’s Bend park we saw a large flock of pelicans performing synchronized flying near the park and it struck me as a form of calligraphy being written in the sky by these airborne creatures.

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

What on the ground look like large unbalanced creatures created imagery in the sky that was fun to watch. I had never witnessed pelicans behaving in this manner before, mostly just images of these birds on the ground feeding. And seeing them fly in formation was truly amazing.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Pelicans fly in formation at Snyder’s Bend Park near Salix, Iowa Thursdat, August 6, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Even the Birdies in Siouxland like a Cool Day, Decatur, NE

28 Jun

After living a few years in the state or Louisiana and eventually returning to the Midwest after a couple more stops during my work career I can say I am not a big fan of hot summer days and the humidity that comes with it.

A robin sits on a fence in a park on a hot day in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While visiting Decatur, NE recently walking in the town’s park along the Missouri River I spied a robin sitting on a fence post as I approached a path and noticed its reluctance in taking flight. I guessed that even birds don’t always enjoy hot, muggy days and so I skirted the path a bit so as not to disturb the bird and then watched as it also seemed to relish a fresh breeze blowing, a short lived reprieve from the hot day. But sometimes any small favors are something to savor.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A robin sits still on a fence and enjoys the breeze on a hot day in a park in Decatur, NE Monday, June 15, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ode to Fatherhood in Siouxland, Sioux City

18 Jun

A male house finch is joined by juvenile finches on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I can only surmise how a parent much feel as they watch their offspring grow up, even here in Siouxland. Listening to family and friends over the years the stories can be entertaining for the most part.

And I wonder if something similar plays out in the Animal Kingdom. To which I received a treat when a backyard bird feeder came alive with a lot sound.

A male house finch surrounded by juvenile finches Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Juvenile finches looking for their father who is at a nearby bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It seems a male (father) house finch was out to grab a quick bite to eat and was quickly joined by some “youngsters”, juvenile house finches. And poor old dad couldn’t get much to eat without being interrupted.

Juvenile finches surround a male house finch on a bird feeder trying to eat some lunch Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch feeds a juvenile finch some bird seed Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Another juvenile house finch joins his dad and sibling on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Try as he may to escape, the juvenile finches followed him about, each looking for attention and something to eat. Even as he flew from one point to another.

A juvenile house finch squawks at a sibling after it was fed by a male house finch Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch feeds lunch to some juvenile finches Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even after I stopped watching and photographing I could hear the cacophony of bird sounds creating an interesting din of nature. Thinking this particular male house finch will be glad when his brood is grown and literally “flown the coop”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A male house finch escapes its juvenile offspring looking to be fed keeps getting its lunch interrupted by juvenile finches Monday May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A male house finch sitting on a bird feeder Monday, May 25, 2020 in Sioux City, Iowa. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Backyard Neighbors in Siouxland, Sioux City

23 May

A cardinal eats a seed while visiting a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Life in Siouxland like in many places is running at a much slower pace these days. While I can’t say I am bored because I get the occasional visits from some animal neighbors who drop by, sound off a greeting, and then continue on their way. These days with sunrises earlier and sunsets later, I miss some of these friends as they tend to be earlier risers than I am.

A red-bellied woodpecker looks for a snack in a backyard Sunday, March 29, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A squirrel peeks out a feeder to see if the it’s safe to leave in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It has been and will continue to be fun watching these critters now that I am more fully aware that they come and visit. It’s funny the things one might see while traveling at a speed less than warp.

A starling sits on a line in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A Hairy woodpecker sits in a tree in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, March 30, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And as the weather continues to warm and be nice with only the occasional rain showers I hope my neighbors continue to spend some time in the neighborhood.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A sudden breeze ruffles feathers on a robin in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday, April 2, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Enjoying Nature in Siouxland, Adams Homestead Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

19 May

A Cooper’s Hawk around its nest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, April 9, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Spending time outdoors in Siouxland that is devoid of people has been a bit of a blessing in that I am seeing, or rather, paying more attention to nature around me when I am out. Not in a hurry to be anywhere, I sit and watch and have been pleasantly surprised.

A Cooper’s Hawk sits atop its nest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, April 9, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I tend to go places early and generally during the week, avoiding crowds at nature preserves and parks for the most part, although sometimes it just doesn’t matter. When it’s all said and done, I hope people will appreciate what there is rather than what they no longer have or have missed. But knowing human nature, that’s unlikely. Animals use what they need and call it good. Humanity just isn’t built the same way.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A Cooper’s Hawk around its nest at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Thursday, April 9, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying Backyard Acrobatics in Siouxland, Sioux City

9 May

Sometimes simple things are best, even in Siouxland. Generations ago, now another century, people’s tastes for entertainment were probably much different. Then no internet, no TV, movies on cd’s, movie theatres and other musical venues that have populated the current landscape.

A common grackle looks for a reward through its acrobatics in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Watching a show titled “Wild Kingdom” while growing up one could always see nature entertaining viewers, in person or on the air because some took the time to film and share what is a natural occurrence but viewed by a larger number of people.

A common grackle looks for a reward through its acrobatics in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Animal antics are still popular, evident in the number of cat videos and other pet videos that people now share online.

A common grackle looks for a reward through its acrobatics in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But sometimes a private showing is just the ticket. No screens, in person, and an appreciation for the creatures that visit.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A common grackle looks for a reward through its acrobatics in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Saturday, April 11, 2020 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

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