Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and
an American Kestrel
15 December 2013
On a drive through the agricultural hinterland of Waterloo County this afternoon we observed several flocks of Horned Larks Eremophila alpestris feeding in fields of corn stubble and also on the rural roads foraging for grit. In some of the pictures below it is easy to see the remnant corn on which the birds are feeding. It is an irony of mechanized corn harvesting that about eight percent is left in the field, fully sufficient to sustain many birds throughout the winter.
As can be noted from the picture below they were initially spotted gleaning grit from the road. But for the presence of two young Old Order Mennonite women striding purposefully to their destination, we could have eased the car slowly towards them for better pictures. Unfortunately the birds flushed as the women drew closer.
Many landed in nearby fields to join other birds already feeding there.
This picture gives an idea of the stark, snowy, windswept landscape where these little birds eke out a living at the harshest time of the year.
American Kestrels Falco sparverius are notoriously skittish when a car stops alongside them and we were fortunate to capture this image of a male as it left its perch on the wire.