Redstart at Spearfish

I was sitting in my den watching some NCAA Tournament basketball doing some decompression after a stressful day at work when it occurred to me I could be doing something more productive .. while still watching some NCAA Tournament basketball.  Let’s see, we could finish up a really cool LEGO project that David and Dr. G. gave me (uber cool, but we’ll just save that for a future post!).  There’s that Build 3-D Wonders of the World project that scares the crap out of me every time I take the lid off of it or possibly put that new computer together that is filling up half my den with Amazon boxes.  Unfortunately, all those would require me to get off my chair hmmmm what to do, what to do.  Oh, how about ANOTHER bonus post.  Now we’re soaking the Kingsford bricks with starting fluid.  Add the spark that it is a post on a new bird to the Bird Life List and we are in jeopardy of singeing (talk about a tough word to spell) our eyebrows off.

Without further delay, introducing the American Redstart!
American Redstart at Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

The unique coloring on this tiny bird puts it high on my favorites bird list.  The black in the base layer turned out blue in a number of my shots due to the different angles in the sun.  The colored patches high and on the side of the breast are actually a brighter, more reddish hue of orange than the pumpkin orange on the wings and tail highlights.  Black, blue, red orange and straight orange – quite the distinctive bird.  It is this range of coloring that allowed me to spot the little guy darting through the thick branches at Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota.  We were on our way to Yellowstone National Park back in May, 2013 and had made our usual stop at the canyon to photograph their wonderful waterfalls.  Well, Linda photographs the waterfalls, I spend the time scanning the woods looking for something more difficult to shoot (hehehehe – I’ll pay for that, but at least I’ll know when she bothers to read my blog).  We had just made the trek back from one of their falls and started putting our stuff in the car when the ears picked up a high pitched whistling on the other side of the parking lot.  Back out came the Beast and the hunt was on.  It took awhile to locate the source due to thickness of the branches and the fact it was constantly moving.  Eventually the coloring gave it away as it popped out for a brief moment.  So brief that by the time the Beast zeroed in on it, it was gone again.  This game went on quite awhile to the point Linda had the car going and was pulling out of the parking lot (see what I have to deal with people! … kidding, she is usually fairly patient with me unless she’s hungry or her T.B. kicks in.)  The branches were playing havoc with the Beast focus so most of the shots came out less than stellar – the first image was the best of the lot which gives you a hint on how bad the rest of the shots were.  The following one was included just to give you a look at the side coloring of the bird (and the hint of blueness on the head that was mentioned previously).

American Redstart at Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

It took me quite awhile to properly ID this dude thanks to the assumption it was in the Oriole family.  The Redstart is actually part of the Warbler family.  Google managed to come through with a basic black and orange small bird query (you let me down Cornell – you would think that a similar bird search on the Oriole page would have this bird included for those of us not familiar with the different species).

How about some quick facts (Cornell redeems themselves).  To aid in hunting, the Redstart will flash the bright coloring on their feathers to startle insects into flight – very similar to clowns who use their horrific face coloring to scare children into running from their hiding places.  These males are polygamous but go that extra mile to make sure their mistress is set up in their own condo in another territory across town (up to a quarter mile away).  Males do not get their full coloring until their second fall (so this one is at least two years old).  They actually split up their chicks for feeding duties with the male taking certain ones and the female taking the other.  My guess is they know they will get divorced when the female finds out about the hottie across town so this just alleviate that whole custody battle thing.

Well, it looks like Iowa has pulled it out and the Badgers are in control of their game so the Big Ten is still putting up a fight – unlike my crappy Illini that lost in the FIRST round of the NIT a couple of days ago – pathetic not to mention they have the nerve to ask me to write our governor to tell them how awful it is that their funding is getting trimmed – no Chief no money, suck it up.


2 comments on “Redstart at Spearfish

  1. Ron

    Pretty bird! I’ve never seen one of these, and I would know if I had. I can imagine how hard it was to capture it with the beast if it was popping all over in the bushes, and I think your pictures are just great!


  2. admin

    Thanks – not my best work, but again, enough visually to make it out of the tin and on the list. I’ll definitely be looking to improve that shot the next time we head out there (we go there a lot). Now that I know what to look for and with a little studying up on the voice I’ll be better prepared – might grab the 200 instead to make it a little easier to handle the focus work.

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