Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Horned Larks and Rainy Day Birding

The sun has not appeared since the switch to daylight savings time and we have had plenty of rain since the end of last week. It has been dark and dreary on workday mornings and I don't think that I have been the only person feeling tired and somewhat out of sorts with the time change.

Today one of my friends at the hospital invited me to go birding with her after work. It was pouring rain and the temperature was just above freezing when Deb called to make sure I still wanted to go out. Why not? Looking out at the rain through a car window could not be worse than looking out at the rain from indoors. I saw my first spring robins and took a picture of one of them against the grey sky. (the blue sky was photoshopped in)

We saw Red-winged Blackbirds, Purple Grackles, and a large mixed flock of Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. Horned Larks are still plentiful along road sides but it is hard to get a good picture of them as there is little contrast between the birds and the gravel. Deb is an expert "car birder" and spotted this Horned Lark in a parking lot. She approached slowly and started pishing through the open window. (Here is a post about pishing from Monarch's Nature Blog)

The lark turned to pay attention to the sound and gave this inquisitive look. Along another road, she stopped as we listened to the sounds of a Horned Lark's song. She described the singing as "tinkling or breaking glass". Here is a sample from the Cornell's online birding guide. This lark is a beautiful songster!

I had tried to get a decent picture of Horned Larks on a sunny afternoon a couple of weeks ago and my efforts were less than pleasing. It was easier to get a clear picture on this dull day without the glare of sunshine.

On the weekend I went looking for Red-winged Blackbirds in the rain and took this short video of a House Finch singing. Kim from The Kitchen Window Birder had posted this video of a different House Finch song. The song in the video below is far longer and more complex and continued until someone came along with a big dog and scared the bird away. The finch was truly "singing in the rain".
And if it can do that, then so should I!


  1. WoW!The Horned Lark shots are spectacular.I tried on Saturday to capture them but that is not easy.

  2. Nice shots of the horned lark. "Car Birding"...I find own eyes wondering up at tree tops and fields instead of on the road while driving. Much better to be the passenger and to have a willing driver to stop when you find a gem.
    Did you shoot the video of the House Finch at Riverside? I spotted 2 of them last Saturday at the park. The red markings on the chest were very bright as what this little guy is showing off. What a beautiful voice he has...to bad about the big dog...I know that feeling all to well.

  3. Thans Ruth and Cheryl. Yes Cheryl, the House Finch was at Riverside Park on Saturday. I missed you there. I had to leave when the rain started at about 11:30 am. But I did see the Red-winged Blackbirds. I agree, birding by car is safest done with a chauffeur!

  4. The horned lark is an interesting bird. I don't think I've ever seen one. Nice capture.

  5. I love the information about the horned lark. And the second photo is wonderful.

  6. Ruth,

    The photos are remarkable. I'm glad you and your friend decided to go birding even though it was raining. I've seen a lot of birds out and about in the rain through the years.

    Red winged blackbirds are more plentiful in this area in recent years. I hear and see them often along the canal. They're beautiful.

    Enjoyed my visit.

  7. Wow, Ruth, those are some great pictures of the Horned Lark. I usually only see them flying away!

  8. Lots of lovely sights on a rainy day! Love the song of the horned lark and the photos were wonderful.

  9. Great pics of the horned lark. Love the male house finch song. I heard it for the 1st time two weeks ago and fell in love. I too am out of sorts w/ daylight savings time. I miss my morning sunshine!

  10. Anonymous7:27 am GMT-4

    I was thinking the same thing, that the sun has not shined since the clocks turned back, so it's been especially gloomy in the morning.
    I had two robins plucking worms from my backyard yesterday. Now that was a welcome sign!

  11. Neat post. We all need to have that sort of attitude. Great photographs of the Horned Lark. Wow!

  12. Anonymous7:57 pm GMT-4

    Loved the horned lark photos and info as I have never seen one. 'Car birding' is a new term for me, but I guess I do that when I'm just driving around. The rain finally stopped for a while today as it was really getting to me.. Michelle

  13. You're brave to be out in the pouring rain - but it was worth it, judging from the pics you took. Loved the finch singing. The lark was pretty too, but short and sweet.

  14. Thanks for all your comments. I have done a fair bit of "car birding" this winter even though I do prefer to walk the trails.

  15. Love horned larks . . thanks for the link! :)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.