Two weeks ago I was sitting on my East stoop (a favorite morning coffee spot), watching all the warblers flitting through our trees when all of a sudden a group way up in the tippy-top of our ash trees caught my eye. It was a group of four Golden-winged Warblers picking bugs out of the ash buds.
After watching them for a bit it dawned on me that maybe I should grab my camera.These are the best photos I could get, but it's not about the photos, it's about that moment of realization that these besieged birds were actually right there, in my yard.
Golden-winged Warblers are in serious decline, one of the fastest declining species of birds in North America with an overall decline of 76% (Cornell Lab of Ornithology). And of the surviving Golden-wingeds? More than 95% of them breed in the Upper Great Lakes area of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Manitoba, with Minnesota having the largest population of breeding Golden-wingeds in the world.
This is what they look like up close and personal:
Yep. Of all the odd timing, just the day before I saw the group in my yard, we ended our weekly Northfield banding session on a high note with this "fancy bird," as Professor Dan called it. It is absolutely stunning to see up close. One of the coolest markings? The eyestripe runs so that the top of the bird's feathers around the eye are white - here's a closer look:
Again, not the greatest photo but the memory of seeing this bird in hand will stay with me forever.
Getting back to the excitement in Afton, later that same day, I opened our front door to go out to the garage and saw a bright glint of blue flash through the air. At first I thought it was one of the dozens of yellow-rumpeds we've had around.
Nope. A Cerulean Warbler. IN MY DRIVEWAY.
Always, always have wanted to see one of these beautiful little birds and never have. Watched it flitting into the air to catch bugs, using our Thule carrier rack as its launching base.
After several minutes of stunned silence absorbing this sight, I ran and grabbed the camera. It's really, really hard to take good photos when you're jumping up and down in excitement (as evidenced here):
Capture the moment in your heart and mind first, then grab a camera. What's the point of enjoying the outdoors if all you're doing is using a viewfinder, right?
Oh, and remember to jump and soar with joy to celebrate those special moments.
Linking up with other bird lovers through Wild Bird Wednesday. Check them out!