Texas Ranches NOTE:   Images were prepared using screen settings of 1024x768, and are best viewed with those settings.  As usual, the name of the bird can be seen by placing the cursor over the photo.

Clay-colored Sparrow25 April 2011
Let us now praise sparrows who, in all their drabness, swarm into the southern U.S. by the millions in winter - a bird to fit the season.    Sparrows are beloved only by the die-hard birder who enjoys the challenge of identifying birds by subtle clues. 
     If you are so inclined, and need to photograph sparrows as well, it would be hard to beat central Texas.  At nature ranches there, one can, for a price, sit in a blind and photograph at leisure.  Where else will as many as seven species of sparrows appear in the viewfinder?
    I've chosen Red Creek Nature Ranch, just north of Junction, Texas.  After a night in a motel, I enjoy a tasty sausage biscuit and coffee at McDonald's in the pre-dawn darkness.  Then it's off to the ranch.   The last stretch is dirt road; 8 cottontail rabbits dash across the road before I meet Kevin Kothmann, who drives me to the blind in his pickup. 


Lark Sparrow

Here we have bird seed, perches, and water.  This is easy, bird-on-a-stick photography.  Just relax and enjoy the birdsong and fresh breeze.  Press the shutter button when a smartly dressed Lark Sparrow lands on a limb that is, in fact, attached to the arm of my spare tripod.  Alan Murphy would be proud of me.

male Painted BuntingBut of course I didn't drive 520 miles just for sparrows.  Alongside them we have, recently arrived from Mexico, 3 male and one pretty green female Painted Bunting.  Amid the sparrows, their colors seem especially showy.  They eagerly join sparrows, Brown-headed Cowbirds, House Finches, Northern Cardinals and the like at the seed feast and water fixture.  If you do a search for Kimble County Texas in www.ebird.com, you'll find the complete tally of all 20 species that came to the Red Creek blind.










Rufous-crowned Sparrow is a faithful attendee, dining on bird seed and also enjoying a bath in the water fixture.  We get them in the southwestern corner of Oklahoma, but they're mostly found in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  And what's with the oversized legs and feet?  

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