Getting my bird fix at the JMU Arboretum

July 12, 2010

Saturday I was able to make a run on the JMU Arboretum in Harrisonburg.

It was great to be back. In the past, I’ve had luck at the venue with birding, and this weekend didn’t disappoint either.

The landscape has only changed slightly since the last time I was there. There are a few new railings near the parking lot and anything else was too minor to even bother noting.

Chairs lined the lawn for an evening wedding and very few people came through while the lady and I were there.

A few turtles were swimming through the coffee-colored water, but little else was out in that area.

I concentrated most of my time near the birdfeeder in the middle of the arboretum.

One of my first visitors was a Cardinal in a nearby tree.

I like getting moments of contemplation or curiosity from animals, so I enjoyed getting that moment as it eyed a snack. When I saw it, I assumed it was a dull colored male, but I’ve since been challenged that it’s female. I still say male. What do you think?

In March of 2009 (if you’ve been following along), I jokingly declared war on blue jays.

If you haven’t been following along let me clarify. When I was working on my last book, I wanted to get a shot of a blue jay, but every single encounter was distant and fleeting. In the end, I wasn’t able to include an image of a blue jay in that book.

Fast forward to Saturday.

As I sat on a bench, a jay flew in. After a few shots, it was gone.

While I’m not in love with the shots, I’d say I can at least call a cease fire with the species.

Although the birds are drawn in toward the feeders, I like when they land in the surrounding trees to eye the situation.

The natural elements are much more appealing to me than the man-made feeder.

The Black-capped Chickadees were plentiful and were pretty good models.

There are also always good ground feeding visitors like the doves, towhees and squirrels. The squirrel occupied most of my time in that  shooting zone.

After a short visit near the feeder, we checked out the area near the bridge, where there were a few insects to observe.

As we started to leave, a flash of color caught my eye. In the distance, a Yellow Finch (Sicalis luteola) American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) came to the ground and began splashing around in some running water.

I haven’t photographed a yellow finch before and loved the vibrancy of its color. It would be great to see more in the future.

Overall, a great visit with perfect weather.

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2 Responses to “Getting my bird fix at the JMU Arboretum”

  1. Mike Says:

    Great shots!

    You are right, that cardinal is definitely a young male, you can tell because it resembles a female but has a blackish bill (and more color than I would expect an adult female to have, even if its very dull).

    Now for the nit-picking (more of an FYI, than a criticism): the chickadee, just on pure probablity, is more likely a Carolina chickadee. Black capped chickadees are more of a northern bird. If you ID’ed it by song though, then you can ignore this. Also, the yellow bird is an American Goldfinch. The yellow finch (S. luteola) is a South American bird.

  2. Evan Dyson Says:

    Good call on the goldfinch. I’ve updated that section. Thanks.

    I’m pretty confident in the chickadee. I did hear that guy sing.


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