Blue-winged Teal: Beak Check

I love living in the Twin Cities. As I'm typing this, I just heard a radio commercial for the MN DNR about taking kids to enjoy the outdoors in our lovely state and one of the lines was: "Today, my daughter learned that the call of the warbler is more powerful than the call of her BFF!" Ha!

I may have over done it this spring.

Every spring I have the best intention to keep it simple--leave some time to actually enjoy birds and not work birds the whole time.  And every spring cool bird opportunities come up and before I know it, I have three solid weeks of work. I have a great time but I turn around and wonder, "Whahappa?"  Especially for warblers.

Not that I haven't had a great time.  I've had the opportunity to enjoy some time up close and personal with sparrows like the above vesper sparrow (love that little rufous patch on the shoulder) but I look at this week and think, "Wait, wasn't it just tax day last week and how is it already the week of my wedding anniversary?"  Incidentally, Non Birding Bill and I have been married for 12 years now--our marriage has now lasted longer than the M*A*S*H tv show!

But despite feeling like I've been birding at the speed of light, I've seen some beautiful birds in beautiful light.  Here's a pair of blue-winged teal at a WPA in southern Minnesota (one of my jobs is forcing me down near the Iowa border this year and even though I may not be getting the warbler action I'd hoped for, I'm getting the opportunity to bird some habitat that I generally avoid).  The male is on the left and the female is on the right.  Both are helpfully showing their sky blue patches on their wings.

And I chuckled as I watched the male go to town in his preening and focusing on his belly.

And he kept focusing on the same area.

...and focusing...That must be one itchy spot!  I think I have about 250 shots of him working his belly...I almost wondered if he was really just trying to work his way down to his cloaca...


When he finished, he had that look of, "Hey, lady, don't judge."

And then he gave a big stretch revealing how large that blue patch on the wing really is.  Such a brown bird, with a lovely shade of blue tucked in the wings.