Tag Archives: birds

Enjoying Early Morning Siouxland, rural Nebraska, Winnebago, NE

22 Jun
Two Canadian geese take off from a pond near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Even though I do like to sleep in when possible, I also like getting out early to drive about rural Siouxland looking for nature, or other aspects of life when the “world” is still relatively quiet. Critters can be surprisingly forgiving when they see a visitor passing through their neighborhood, and probably wonder what the heck is that person doing up so early.

An Eastern Kingbird sits on a barbed wire fence near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Two Redwing Blackbirds sit on fence posts in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The light in early morning is so sweet to photograph in and creates interesting scenes via its angle to the earth’s rotation. Such early morning light becomes better as the seasons moves into fall, in that one doesn’t have to rise so early, but the light itself changes, a little softer, but still direct. Plus, one can always take a nap later to recoup that lost sleep, but one can never regain the time lost or the possibility of images that could be photographed, but never seen to start with.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A brown thrasher peeks through some brush in a field near Winnebago, NE Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Serenading the Neighbors in Siouxland, Sioux City

8 Jun
A cardinal wonders why his audience is not listening to his song in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Recently a cardinal saw the chance to entertain residents in a backyard and pranced about and prepared for his performance. Checking around to see if those nearby were paying attention or not.

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not all residents were obliging though as it apparently interfered with other, more pressing matters.

A napping cat ignores the singing of backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But performers know the show must go on, with or without a willing audience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

backyard birds in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And the concert begins as a cardinal sings in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 24, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Cruising in Siouxland, Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve, North Sioux City, SD

19 May
A muskrat nibbles on a snack at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a few places in Siouxland one can go to and watch nature. Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is just a few minutes north by vehicle and most days affords one an opportunity to watch and photograph nature unfolding, with creatures cruising the park. There are a few blinds set up along one of the small lakes found there that water fowl, shore birds and other creatures frequent.

A muskrat tries to slip away after being seen by a visitor at Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A friend who is a avid birder generally arrives pre sunrise to see as many species and identify them for a local club. I admire his determination to get out early and enjoy the sunrise and day’s activities beginning. I on the other hand need some caffeine to get my day started a wee bit after sunrise.

And then there are those creatures who value their privacy, and when spotted by the occasional visitor leave before one has a chance to see what they are doing. Evidently shy by nature, and probably with good reason, fleeting glimpses are all one sometimes gets before realizing what it was that one saw.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A muskrat makes its way to to the other side of Mud Lake at the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve Friday, May 7, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing new Visitors in Siouxland, Sioux City

13 May
A House Wren visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

It’s kind of fun to see visitors in Siouxland, checking things out, even the fine-feathered ones. A friend who is quite the birder told me such a creature I spotted in a backyard recently was probably a Ruby Crowned Kinglet migrating through the area and heading to its natural habitat for the summer months. He said they prefer wooded areas and such, but any port in a storm.

A Ruby Crowned Kinglet visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A Ruby Crowned Kinglet visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A house wren visits a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Sunday, May 9, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But sometimes seeing new visitors gives me a little trepidation depending on their intentions, especially when it comes to my cats sunning themselves in the backyard. Any temptation is just that, especially to the young and those learning to survive in the “wild”.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A small raptor hanging out in a backyard in Sioux City, Iowa Monday, May 10, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Ah the Little Birdies, Lewis and Clark State Park, Onawa

3 May
A great blue heron looks for a landing spot in a marshy area at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Sometimes while driving about Siouxland I will “duck” into an area I am familiar with never really knowing what I might find. The Lewis and Clark State Park is a nice place to eat a sack lunch which I did recently. And then driving into the park proper saw a little show with some American Coots and a great blue heron.

Nature always surprises sometimes, and being quiet, patient and observant, one might even get lucky.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A great blue heron lands in a grassy marsh area at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An American coot squawks while it and its brethren eat grass at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A flock of American coots fan out and eat grass at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A flock of American coots fan out and eat grass at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
American coots float in the lake at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Onawa, Iowa Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Hanging Out in Siouxland, Rural Plymouth County

29 Apr
An immature Red Tailed Hawk navigates a landing on a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

While cruising about Siouxland on a weekend with somewhat warmer temps and winds, I noticed I wasn’t alone in just enjoying a day in the country. Animals seem to do that as well sometimes. I noticed a young Red Tailed hawk riding some thermals over a gravel road in rural Plymouth County. Soaring, diving, soaring again and occasionally coming to a rest.

An immature Red Tailed hawk flies by a possible high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
An immature Red Tailed Hawk takes in its surroundings from a high perch in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Taking a break and watching for its next snack possibly or watching the ever so casual visitor drive by underneath its high perch. Some days should just be enjoyed for the moment, warmer weather, sunshine and a lazy day feeling. However, for this young bird and others I somehow think most days are not lazy. But it was fun watching it seemingly enjoy its time in the air.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An immature Red Tailed hawk enjoys some thermal winds in rural Plymouth County Sunday, April 18, 2021. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

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©)
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