While traipsing through the winter-browned Sandusky Plains prairies today, I crossed the path of some American Tree Sparrows, Spizella arborea. Lucky me, and I had my camera in tow. These jaunty little sparrows rank high among my favorite birds, and I settled in to watch the little flocks as they worked over the seeds of goldenrod, switch grass and other ripenings.
I'm usually first alerted to foraging tree sparrows by their thin wispy tseet notes - contact calls by which they talk to each other. Sooner or later, the flock will take wing, blowing low over the ochre prairie like delicate little leaves on the wind. Their sweetly musical flight notes sound like tiny icicles shattering. The tree sparrow and its subtle melodies mesh perfectly with the barren prairies of winter.
Should you have an interest, I wrote in more detail about American Tree Sparrows HERE.
I am a lifelong Ohioan who has made a study of natural history since the age of eight or so - longer than I can remember! A fascination with birds has grown into an amazement with all of nature, and an insatiable curiosity to learn more. One of my major ambitions is to get more people interested in nature. The more of us who care, the more likely that our natural world will survive.
Unless specifically noted, all photos used on this blog are by Jim McCormac, and are my copyrighted property. If you are interested in the use of any of these photos, please contact me at jimmccormac35 AT gmail DOT com. I am sometimes fine with loaning photos for educational or non-commercial uses, but please ask! I do not give permission for carte blanche use of photos from the site, so please do not ask.
I've been taking photographs for a few decades, but never became fully interested and engaged in photography until 2003. That's when I got my first digital camera. Since then, photography has become a passion and a steadily growing addiction. If you delve back far enough into this blog, you will see photos that were made with a variety of Panasonic point & shoot bridge cameras. Then came a Canon Rebel DSLR, followed by a Nikon D7000. I've since returned to Canon, and use their gear almost exclusively. My camera bodies are a Canon 5D Mark III, which is an awesome full-frame sensor camera, and a Canon 7D Mark II. The latter is a 1.6 crop factor camera, and I use it almost exclusively for birds and distant wildlife.
The lens bag includes the following Canon lenses: 100mm f/2.8L-macro; the sensational but bizarre MP-E 65 mega-macro; a 180mm f/3.5 macro; a 16-35mm f/4L wide-angle; a 50mm f/1.4; a 100-400 f4.5/5.6 II; and a 500mm f/4L II, sometimes used with a 1.4 extender (which makes it a 700mm). I've also got a Tamron 70-200mm (great lens!). I do lots of macro, and my typical flash gear is the Canon Twin-Lite setup. If the gear needs three-legged stabilization, it is mounted on a Manfrotto tripod, attached to an Induro Gimbal head. Finally, I've got a GoPro Hero, which is fully waterproof and can be used for underwater work. Sometimes I even use the camera or video feature on my iPhone 5S smartphone - it's amazing how good phone cameras have become.
Birds of Ohio
Lots of info about our avifauna
Great Lakes Nature Guide
A primer of the earth's greatest freshwater resource.
Wild Ohio: The Best of our Natural Heritage
Pictorial essays of Ohio's best remaining natural lands