Some birds put on a show…

I finally got that nice shot of an indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea) I’ve been after for months. He was by the canoe/kayak launch and pretty high up, so still not super crisp, but you can see the little glint of his eye, which suggests that he’s at least in focus. Even the background isn’t too bad.

Best of all, he was giving singing lessons: 1. stretch, 2. puff up your chest, 3. let ‘er rip!

Speaking of the boat launch, I startled yet another family of mallards there yesterday afternoon, and they booked it out across the river before I could explain that I’m harmless. The trip looked a bit arduous for the little ones, just as it did for the goslings months ago.

While I was keeping an eye on their progress, I spotted the sandpiper across the river again. Best or worst of all, while I was there watching the birds, a small dark brown varmint trotted across the boat launch almost over my toes. If I had to guess between a stoat, mink, or muskrat, I’d go with mink (Neovison vison) because I didn’t see any of the white fur that a stoat sports, and it looked slimmer and sleeker than a muskrat.

Anyway, that new mallard family, or its spittin’ image, was at the oxbow pond this morning, and as soon as the little ones spotted me, they booked it for the river again, as you can see in the blurry image below (top/left). Even wilder, though, the family with the one yellow duckling, which we’ve seen many times now, were already at the river (center), and they headed straight towards me once they saw me, like we were old buddies, while the first family looked on in disbelief from a safe distance (bottom/right). It sure was a hoot to watch, though, with lots of waddling.

Meanwhile, there are also several new blossoms in the park that I simply can’t identify. The first (top/left) looks like either a phlox or a catchfly, but I can’t tell which. The other two are complete mysteries. Can anyone help me out? (See comments below for some fantastic suggestions already!)

Finally, you may be as stunned to learn as I am that there are two different tree-like sumac species in the park: smooth sumac or white sumac (Rhus glabra), which had white blossoms, bloomed first, and is done blooming now; and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), which has red blossoms, bloomed second, and is still in bloom. Good thing is that neither are poisonous, right?

Well, it’s time to quit playing with this and go pay my taxes. I’d better not put it off another day, eh?

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

4 thoughts on “Some birds put on a show…

  1. Dear Mr. Dressel

    Thank you for uploading the pictures of the staghorn sumac and clarifying that they are not poisonous. I was fascinated by that plant along the boardwalk, touched it, then right after went down below it to eat some of those black raspberries. So, that puts my mind at ease. Even though I am sure I would have already been sick at this point. As for the three flower pictures that you are unaware of, I did some research and believe I found out what they are and will post relevant links. In order from left-to-right I believe the first one is a Saponaria Officinalis but that one is a little tricky to tell because the pictures on google have such a wide range of pedal patterns and colors. The middle flower I believe to be Blephilia Ciliata, since the ring pattern and black specs seem to match. The last one was the one I was the most hesitant on, but I think it is the Allegheny Monkey Flower I believe it is the monkey flower because of the similar ‘weird’ shape, but along with that you can see that your picture and the one i posted both have the colored tips on the sprouts behind the flower. If you do not believe these flowers are correct, let me know and I’ll see what else I can dig up as I would love to keep helping along the way and learn more about our native wildlife! Keep up the great work and hope to see you back out there!



    1. Mr. Mikelonis,

      Outstanding work!
      1. Your suggestion of Saponaria officinalis looks spot on, and I love the common name “soapwort”!
      2. Your suggestion of Blephilia ciliata is super close, but I believe Blephilia hirsuta, hairy woodmint, which is white, might be even closer.
      3. Your suggestion of Mimulus ringens, Allegheny Monkey Flower, appears to hit the nail right on the head!
      Well done, sir!


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