Marbleseed Prairie

Recently I made the 15-minute trek from my house to Marbleseed Prairie in search of Bell's Vireos. A short grass prairie remnant with scattered thickets of dense shrubs, Marbleseed Prairie is the ideal habitat for this bird.

Bell's Vireo is one of those birds on my "target list" that has managed to elude me for a number of years, despite the close proximity of nesting sites to my home. It always seems much easier for me to find time to bird in Texas, Florida, California, etc. while I'm on the road than it is to pry myself away from family, work, and household obligations that inevitably pile up when I'm home.
A few weekends ago, in between dropping the kids off at birthday parties and swimming lessons, I had 2 hours to myself to get out on the prairie. When I arrived, I was delighted to see one of my favorite prairie plants in bloom, Creamy False Indigo (Baptisia leucophaea).
This Willow Flycatcher and its mate were not shy about informing me that they had staked a claim somewhere in the vicinity of the parking area. The loud "Fitz-bew" cry was the first call to greet me as I stepped out of my car.
Another shortgrass prairie plant that caught my eye was this Hoary puccoon (Lithospermum canescens).
This House Wren caught my attention for a moment with a call that was very Bell's Vireo-like, so much so that I stopped to find the bird for a quick confirmation. While I was disappointed that I had this common wren in my binos rather than the vireo, my birding diligence paid off as a Bell's Vireo flew into the tree directly above me and began belting out it's distinctive call, said to resemble the sound of a squeaky marker on a dry-erase board. This shy and elusive bird didn't stop for long as it quickly flew off, presumably in search of creatures more interesting than I.

Like the vireo, I had places to be and obligations to my offspring. Swimming lessons and birthday parties were drawing to a close and we had a date in Madison to forage with some friends at a pizza place.


Barbara said...

Nice blog Ben!

Glad you found that Vireo! I can relate to shuffling the kids around in between birding. Have you ever received that call that they are sick and need to be picked up and you happen to be several miles into the "middle of nowhere"?! :D

But just like birds, they fly away all too quickly so enjoy every minute!

Thanks for sharing your adventures and great photos!

Ben Lizdas said...

Your welcome Barbara. Generally when I'm birding in the middle of nowhere, I'm a car ride and then a plane ride from home! I'm looking forward to the day when my girls are old enough for us to bird together locally.
Thanks for the feedback.