Posts from the ‘courtship’ Category

Birding with Sparky: Virtually Live Field Trip to Sax-Zim Bog — April 14, 2020

Hi all, This is video 1 of a series we are doing at my non-profit Friends of Sax-Zim Bog. Since we all have to practice social distancing, we decided to bring our bog buddies along on some “Virtually Live” field trips.

I bird the Sax-Zim Bog (northeastern Minnesota) in the morning from sunrise to noon, then race home (1-hour drive) to download and edit the footage. The goal is to upload it by that evening.

I had a blast! And hope to continue this weekly through May. Come along and enjoy a day of birding in Sax-Zim!

Bird the Bog with Sparky: April 14, 2020

Video—Dancing Chickens: Shooting with Sparky

A morning on the Greater Prairie-Chicken lek at Tympanuchus WMA in Northwest Minnesota; April 26, 2019

Daffy Duck-Displays

That’s “daffy duck-displays” not “Daffy Duck displays!” For years I’ve been trying to capture the comic breeding displays of the Hooded Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes. Mostly unsuccessful in years past, this spring I did have a modicum of success. When several males are vying for one female, the action gets intense. Male Goldeneyes extend their necks vertically then throw their head violently backwards at the same time as their tail end comes up (so far that their feet actually come out of the water!) and bleat a cute toy-like buzz [See video below].

Hooded Mergansers have a similar display but with a Vegas-worthy addition—they fan their black and white head feathers into an out-of-proportion crest. The Hooded Merg pictured below is only at “half mast” …but check out the video to see the full-on craziness of a bunch of sex-addled males along the St. Louis River in late March.

The video shows the displays better than the stills. To see the full-sized video go to

Stills and Video with the Canon 7D, Canon 400mm f5.6, AT-897 shotgun microphone, Gitzo tripod.