Western Meadowlark with Catch - Rhame Prairie, North Dakota - June 2017

These photos were taken on the first of the 7 days I spent visiting some of the birding spots in North Dakota. There are 63 national wildlife refuges in North Dakota and the Prairie Pothole region is listed in “Fifty Places to Go Birding Before You Die: Birding Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations" by Chris Santella. June is purported to be a good month for birding and I decided to give it a try. The weather report was favorable and I did have good lighting conditions most of the trip, but the wind blew 15-30 mph almost every day . . . not good conditions for seeing some of the grassland birds that were on my target list. Stay tuned for more photos from my first birding trip to North Dakota.

The Meadowlark has a beak full of protein and vegetables (see the grass in the beak closest to the eyes of the bird). I assume the bird was sharing this meal with mate and/or chicks but I was not able to track the bird until the meal was consumed. 

Photo of the same bird and insects one minute later. The bird flew a short distance and landed in brighter light on the same wire fence. Note that the grass is now the most distant (from the eyes of the bird) object in the beak.  How did it get there? Is this the first documented example of Avian Psychokinesis or just a change in wind direction? 

David Sparks

I retired in 2005 after 40 years of research and teaching at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (24 years), the University of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the Baylor College of Medicine (8 years). Photography is my retirement hobby.

Nature photography, especially bird photography, combines a number of things that I really enjoy: bird-watching, being outdoors, photography, travel, messing about with computers, and learning new skills and concepts.  I now spend much of my time engaged in these activities.

David Sibley in the preface to The Sibley Guide to Birds wrote "Birds are beautiful, in spectacular as well as subtle ways; their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature."  My goal is to acquire images that capture the beauty and uniqueness of selected species as well as images that highlight the engaging behaviors the birds exhibit.