Cuckoos, Buntings, and Babies

In spite of poor migration patterns over the last week and persistent winds, birding and banding wasn’t all that bad really.  Spring is always a little less frantic than the fall migrations, but a lot more spectacular for colors and patterns.  By the time they arrive in northwestern New Jersey in the spring, most birds are in their full breeding plumage.  I’ve been banding since 1977, and I still am in awe of the colors and patterns.  The photo gives you the colors of this stunning male indigo bunting, but it fails to show you the iridescence of the feathers, the way the color deepens and reflects light, and the subtle black flecking here and there. 


Some birds are about as plain as they can be, and yet are still beautiful in their own way.  A black-billed cuckoo, shades of brown on brown and cream, still manages a splash of color around the eyes.  With that red around the eye, he  looks a little maniacal in the photo, but cuckoos are gentle and unassuming birds.  They are heard more than they are seen. The bird seems almost too big for it’s slender body because it’s tail is so long.

Yesterday’s banding session had a very special surprise.  At the end of the session, I was closing the field nets, talking to myself as I usually do, when my eye caught a glimmer of gold under the tree next to the net, not 8 feet away.  The sun was casting spots of sunshine and shadow among the leaves and grasses, and there, watching me quietly, was a fawn. 

I frequently meet deer in the fields when I’m banding.  They are accustomed to my comings and goings, and they seem to know where the nets are and have been very good about avoiding them.  They usually stand around and watch me from not so far away, and I always talk to them.  Apparently, at least one mother was confident that I was not going to disturb her youngster, and left it to rest tucked under the bushes near this net while I was in the building banding.  I had seen mother and fawn in the field earlier – a brand new baby just a few days old. Be sure to click on the photo for a larger view.

The camera is usually in the banding lab during banding,  but for some unexplained reason, I had already put it back in the Jeep.  I retreived the camera and took this photo, finished closing the nets, and went home feeling so much richer, and quite honored for having received such a beautiful gift. Life is good. 


6 Responses to “Cuckoos, Buntings, and Babies”

  1. Lynne Says:

    Thanks for sharing your remarkable gift.

  2. scienceguy288 Says:

    What a nice day. My grandfather always said that a deer’s eye is one of the most beautiful things on this earth.

  3. Ruth Says:

    I was so happy to see my first Indigo Bunting, and the day was sunny…such colour. The fawn is lovely.

  4. mon@rch Says:

    Love those cuckoos! Great day for sure!

  5. lvn600 Says:

    The detail and color in the photos are so beautiful. I wish that I could see that kind of detail on a cuckoo when I’m trying to distinguish a young yellow-billed from a black-billed.

  6. obi4240 Says:

    Thanks all – Ivn600, they are hard to see for sure. Of course, I’m cheating by having them in the hand!

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