My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bird du Jour

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge serves as a  winter home for many birds.  In the summer, it gets very quiet with only a few wrens, sometimes a shrike, herons,  egrets, roseate spoonbills, morhens, and a few other species. .  But in winter.... suddenly we are playing host to millions of geese and ducks but also to many other water, marsh and prairie birds.

The first bird I photographed today  was a Wilson's snipe - the first I've seen this season.  We usually have a few using the pond.  It gets real hard to find them when they are sleeping in the grasses around the pond as they are so cryptic. But against the water, their strips, warm brown color and long bills make them easy to find and identify.

Wilson's Snipe 

Snipe feed on larval insects, worms, crustaceans, mollusks and some seeds.  This one was feeding in the mud.  They use their bills both as sensors to feel their food and as very flexible fingers.  They can open the ends of their bills without opening the entire bill.

Snipe are one species of birds that occur in enough numbers that they are hunted. With guns, as well, of course, with a gunny sack on a dark night in the scariest place your tormentors can find.  The Texas hunting season is from October 30 to February 13, 2011.  But this snipe is on a protected area so he probably won't get eaten by a human.  But he'll be fair game to a coyote or bobcat. And alligators sometimes get wading birds, but I think this guy's legs are too short to get in water that will hide a 'gator. And he'll provide lots of pleasure to our visiting birders who come from all over the world.