Beautiful bird, beautiful song

Dickcissel, Shenandoah Valley
When a friend posted on social media audio of Dickcissels singing at dusk, I wanted to see the birds. Dickcissels are rare here, according to birding records and range maps. Dickcissels are listed as scarce for Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley breeding maps.

With my morning and early afternoon tightly scheduled, I knew I had a small window of opportunity to find this beautiful bird with an even more beautiful song. Severe storms were forecast for the area for the early evening. I headed north 10 miles as soon as I could. When I reached the intersection where the birds’ song had been recorded, I immediately heard them upon exiting my vehicle. Finding them was a different story.

I had seen my first Dickcissels in similar habitat in Ohio. Unfortunately, they are drawn to alfalfa fields dotted with weeds like ironweed that grow taller than the legume the farmer planted. Sure enough, using my binoculars, that’s where I spotted the first male Dickcissel. I felt pressured to photograph the birds. Thunder rumbled in the distance near the Allegheny Mountains 20 miles west.

To my surprise, a Dickcissel rose out of the thick foliage and flew directly towards me, landing on a tree branch right above my head. As I raised my camera to capture the bird up close, it took flight and perched on an ironweed plant nearly a football field away. I clicked away anyhow.

I scanned the field in the direction of other Dickcissels that I heard. I found a pair about 50 yards south of my location. Just as I started to walk south, a male and female flew to the woven-wire fence that surrounded the hayfield.

I immediately stopped and found a place to brace myself to steady the camera. Even before I could get off my first shot, the female flew, leaving the male to sit along, singing eloquently. I clicked away hoping for some decent results. A light rain had already started obscuring the sun, which gave me less light to work with.

Finally, when a car approached from the south, the beautiful bird flew in the direction of its mate. I headed for the car, happy to have witnessed both the bird and its enchanting song.

“Beautiful bird, beautiful song” is my Photo of the Week.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2018

4 Comments

Filed under birding, birds, human interest, nature photography, Photo of the Week, photography, rural life, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, weather, writing

4 responses to “Beautiful bird, beautiful song

  1. Joanne Cuny

    That picture sure was worth all your efforts Bruce! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m learning new things about birds in the valley I’ve lived in over 45 years. I was tickled to see two red wing blackbirds (not that common around here, although very common in Ind. where I grew up) and a yellow finch or meadowlark of some kind this morning on my way to work. I see your Dickcissels has a yellow breast although not very visible in the rainy conditions we’ve had this week. What birds with yellow chests do you see around here. I’m very uneducated on birds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Melodie,
      The area has lots of birds with yellow on their breasts. Without knowing the size, shape, where you saw the bird, and other details, it would be hard to say which one you saw. Common birds would be male American Goldfinch and male Eastern Meadowlark. Here is a good link to learn about birds. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/.
      Thanks,
      Bruce

      Like

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