Monday, August 15, 2011

Petrified Wood National Park - Meadowlarks & Western Birds

The "Painted Desert" of the Petrified Wood National Park, AZ; 6/20/2011.
Just to break up our road trip from the West Coast back to the Midwest, we decided to drive through the Petrified Wood National Park in Arizona, and Wow, were we glad we did! The actual pieces of petrified wood (Below) we saw were pretty, but it was the colorful landscape (Above) that impressed us.

A piece of petrified wood near the Southern Visitor's Center of the Petrified Wood National Park, AZ; 6/20/2011.
As far as birding in the desert went, I didn't go there expecting to see much in the middle of the afternoon in the hot desert sun, but I did manage to see a few birds, most commonly were Mourning Doves,  House Finches, Common Ravens and American Crows. But I did manage to see a bird that is on my hard to photograph list - a Horned Lark, which I had also seen for the first time on Santa Cruz Island just a couple of days prior to this. So I was glad to have another opportunity to try to add to my photograph files. Near the Visitor's Center on the north end of the Park, I also saw a Northern Mockingbird, A Great-tailed Grackle, an Eastern Meadowlark (which initially I thought was a Western Meadowlark) and a Western Kingbird.

An Eastern Meadowlark, Petrified Wood Nat. Park, AZ; 6/20/2011.
The Eastern Meadowlark (Above) that I saw was sitting on shrubbery quite a distance away. It wasn't singing and I assumed it was a Western species, but upon looking at the photographs I decided it was an Eastern for two reasons. 1.) Its malar is white, whereas the Western's yellow throat extends onto its malar all the way to its cheeks (Below top), and 2.) In flight the Eastern's tail has more white on the edges (Below bottom).
Western Meadowlark, near Mono Lake, CA; 6/16/2009.

The wide white feathers on the sides of the tail show this to be an Eastern Meadowlark, Petrified Wood Nat. Park, AZ; 6/20/2011.
I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a Western Meadowlark. I was hoping for more pics of a Western. What is an Eastern Meadowlark doing in Arizona anyway?

Another Eastern Meadowlark, Texas, 6/22/2011.

The same E. Meadowlark singing away.
Just two days after I photographed an Eastern Meadowlark in the Petrified Wood NP, I had an even better photo op on my Sister's homestead in Texas as an Eastern alit on a telephone wire just above me, and stayed put singing its song (Two photos Above).
Another colorful landscape of the Petrified Wood National Park, AZ; 6/20/2011.
I can't help but show another photo of the exquisite colors of the "Painted Desert" (Above) of the Petrified Wood National Park. The photo (Above) shows the lavender/bluish colors of the Blue Mesa Canyon, which were very beautifully contrasted against the the more reddish rocks.

Sunset of the Day
What better time is there than to show off a beautiful Arizona sunset, Phoenix; Dec., 2006.

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