I always love migration. You just never know what's going to pop up in the yard. First, I should say that "yard" for us means roughly a half acre of grass, the rest is one acre of in-process prairie restoration and 3.5 acres of mixed hardwoods and pines. It makes for fabulous bird watching.
We had two visitors this week within 15 minutes of each other that had me running for my camera.
When I caught a glimpse of the first bird my initial thought was "Curve-billed Thrasher??? WHAT?" Trust me, there's a good explanation for why I'd pop a bird from the American Southwest into Minnesota. We've raised one in our Avian Nursery at WRC. Yep. It caught a ride on a trailer hitch for nearly 600 miles before the people found it. It's hopping a ride back to Arizona tomorrow so it's been on my mind lately. But that's a whole different story... the point of this is that the curved bill is what caught my attention through the apple tree:
Turns out it's a juvenile Yellow-billed Cuckoo. (not a Curve-billed Thrasher... go figure!)
The second cool bird was this Blue-headed Vireo:
From a front view you can get a better look at its signature "spectacles:"
While Blue-headed Vireos nest up north in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota, the Yellow-billed Cuckoos nest in my area. But I've never seen one in our yard before.
You can tell it's a juvenile by its bright yellow orbital ring. The ring will begin greying next spring. Here's a closer look at its eye:
Note the cuckoo is actually panting. We've had an extremely hot run of weather and are in the middle of drought. Both birds came down to bird baths that we have in our yard. Water is an equally important draw as bird feeders. Without water I probably never would've had these birds come so close to the house.
While the cuckoo has a long migration ahead of it (all the way down to South America) the vireo will actually stay in North and Central America for the winter.
Both birds glean insects from tree branches. A great reason to keep a pesticide-free habitat!
Check out other neat migration birds and photos from all over the world via Wild Bird Wednesday.