Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Birds, butterflies, and buds at Mount Rainier

 I am what I like to call an "Accidental Birder." I never set out to be any sort of avian afficionado, but every time I see a bird, I feel compelled to stop and observe its behavior and physiology. During my time at Mount Rainier National Park, I was gifted with many opportunities to see birds that I've never before witnessed, either in the wild or in captivity. Naturally, I was thrilled.

 Grey Jay - I had heard that these birds are essentially fearless, and would land on your hand to feed out of it. The rumors are true! I spotted this one perched on a tree top, so I pulled over to take a photo from inside my van. I rolled down the window, stuck out my camera, and snapped a few shots. The jay spotted me and took flight -- directly towards me. It swooped down in front of me and touched down near my windshield to get a better view. It flew off again before I could get a close-up shot, but I was absolutely tickled by the bird's curiosity just the same.

Sooty grouse - This tough customer was loitering around the parking lot near the Nisqually Glacier trail head. He was in full display, making his deep "popping" calls every so often. I followed him around for a bit, and even got a video of him strutting across the pavement. I spotted him again later near the trail head. Aren't his eyebrows fabulous?

Western tanager - I had to do a little research to figure out what this pretty bird was. Look at those colors! There were a few of these birds hanging out near the Box Canyon loop trail. I didn't see them anywhere else in the park.

Aside from the birds, I got some nice, up-close looks at many other species of fauna and flora. I couldn't get enough of all of the wildlife in this park.

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