Friday, August 30, 2013

Birds of the Prairie - A Photo Essay

With the excitement of all the warblers, waterfowl, and shorebirds that pass through during migration, I often overlook the incredible birds that make our prairie landscape come alive.  The scenery here will not take your breath away, but the beauty is so quiet, so subtle that you could miss it.

Once you get out and start exploring this land you see a whole new dimension to this beauty: the birds. Even the sparrows do their part to add to the diversity of the prairie canvas.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
One does not need to go afoot in the tall grass to see amazing birds. Looking up at telephone wires while cruising down dusty roads will showcase a whole new group of birds as they sing their unique songs from on high.

Western Meadowlark
Even certain shorebirds call the prairie their home and ocassionally show themselves.  Though they seem out of place, they add to the richness of prairie's beauty.

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit enjoying the strong prairie winds

Wilson's Snipe

Upland Sandpiper
As you approach the many prairie potholes that dot this landscape, you see yet another layer of beauty - the birds of the marsh.  Some of them lurk in the cattails or the short-grass marshes.

Marsh Wren
Sedge Wren
Others boldly proclaim their presence as they splash the marsh with color and fill the air with their beautiful songs.

Red-winged Blackbird
Yellow-headed Blackbird
The prairie would not be the same without the sights and sounds of these magnificent birds.  For those of us who also call the prairie our home, hearing the melodious song of a Western Meadowlark or a Bobolink stirs up fond memories of growing up in a land of tall grass, rolling hills, and cattail marshes.  There truly is no place like home.

Josh Wallestad writes about his birding adventures with his 6-year-old son, Evan, at A Boy Who Cried Heron.  


  1. Some lovely birds and images there. Rolling hills and grasses like you show in that first image ARE relaxing and lovely to look at, and obviously the different birds add sparks of excitement to it. I enjoyed this post as well as it reminded me of a couple of different places in different countries that have been home.

  2. Thank you! Glad you liked it. The prairie does have a peacefulness to it, and the birds here are pretty special.

  3. I enjoy looking through your photos and reading the narration. It's fun to look at a different vista and birds that I've yet to set my eyes on. It adds a little spice to this gal amid multiple palm trees and ocean breeze.

  4. Thanks, France. And I would love to see the birds of the ocean! Many of these birds in this post are common sights around here. I've never laid eyes on many of your common species as well. It's easy to take the ones around us for granted. That's why this post was fun for me to write - I actually took time to appreciate the birds at hand.

  5. A great way to start my morning, reading this beautiful post. Stunning prairie bird photographs!