Sage Thrashers, Northern Mockingbird, White-crowned Sparrow and Wild Rose Hips

/, Box Elder County, Northern Mockingbird, Sage Thrashers, Utah, White-crowned Sparrows/Sage Thrashers, Northern Mockingbird, White-crowned Sparrow and Wild Rose Hips

Yesterday morning was great for bird photography, the sky was clear, the temps were pleasant, the light was nice and I found that there were plenty of birds to photograph. Today my focus is on birds that I photographed on wild rose bushes whose branches were dripping with rose hips.

Northern Mockingbird perched on a wild rose, Box Elder County, UtahNorthern Mockingbird perched on a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The birds I photographed on the wild rose bushes were adult and immature Sage Thrashers, an adult White-crowned Sparrow and one beautiful Northern Mockingbird.

Here in Utah we are almost at the uppermost northern range in this area of North America for breeding Northern Mockingbirds, above us their range only goes into far southern Idaho and I don’t see these songsters all that often. When I do see them I get excited and when they land out in the open on a picture perfect perch my excitement is amplified!

Rose hips and a Northern Mockingbird, Box Elder County, UtahRose hips and a Northern Mockingbird – Nikon D500, f9, 1/1000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I saw three of these mockingbirds in this same area on the 19th but couldn’t get back to where they were so I was even more delighted when this one came in and landed right in front of me on the rose bush.

Before I took my photos of this mockingbird I saw it perched on another bush in the distance at the time I even pleaded out loud for it to land on the rose bush so imagine my surprise when it actually did! It chased off a Sage Thrasher that had been perched in the same spot. I believe it was scolding the thrasher when I took this photo.

Puffed up Northern Mockingbird on a wild rose, Box Elder County, UtahPuffed up Northern Mockingbird on a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f9, 1/1250, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Northern Mockingbird soon puffed up its feathers then it took off. I felt wonderful after getting these photos because I don’t have many opportunities with them.

Adult White-crowned Sparrow peeking out of a Wild Rose, Box Elder County, UtahAdult White-crowned Sparrow peeking out of a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f9, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There were also several White-crowned Sparrows that came and perched on the wild rose, this one had been perched near the top of the bush when a Northern Harrier flew over so the sparrow buried itself in the thorny bush for a little while for protection. After a bit it peeked out to see if the harrier had moved on and I couldn’t resist taking this photo of the sparrow surrounded by the leaves and rose hips.

Adult Sage Thrasher perched on a Wild Rose, Box Elder County, UtahAdult Sage Thrasher perched on a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then there were the Sage Thrashers… I won’t presume to call the Sage Thrashers I saw and photographed a “family” even though I saw both adults and immature birds because this time of the year is when Sage Thrashers are migrating and these birds could be unrelated migrants passing through, what I do know for certain is that they were plentiful, active and a great deal of fun to photograph on the wild rose bushes.  This thrasher was the first one I photographed yesterday while there was still a bit of golden light.

Adult Sage Thrasher Wild Rose Hips and morning light, Box Elder County, UtahAdult Sage Thrasher, Wild Rose hips and morning light – Nikon D500, f8, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I spotted another Sage Thrasher on a smaller wild rose bush a distance away from the larger bush and it looked so great in that setting that I had to take photos of it too. This adult’s plumage looked especially fresh.

Sage Thrasher fluffing its feathers on a Wild Rose, Box Elder County, UtahSage Thrasher fluffing its feathers on a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f10, 1/1000, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This adult Sage Thrasher is perched in nearly the exact same spot as my first photo of the Northern Mockingbird above so I felt I had to include it. When I place these photos side by side on my monitor it almost looks as if I swapped out one bird for the other which of course I didn’t do. What I can say is that both these species seemed to like that that spot for whatever reason.

Immature Sage Thrasher with fruit on a Wild Rose, Box Elder County, UtahImmature Sage Thrasher with fruit on a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f9, 1/1250, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then there was this immature Sage Thrasher who came into the wild rose bush, I can tell it is immature because of its plumage and because I can see the gape of an immature bird. I’m not certain exactly what the fruit or berry is that the young thrasher has in its bill, it could be the fruit from nearby Fragrant Sumac or it could be from the inside of the wild rose hips, whatever it was the thrasher swallowed it whole within two frames of this image.

Adult Sage Thrasher with a fruit pit hanging from its bill by saliva, Box Elder County, UtahAdult Sage Thrasher with a fruit pit hanging from its bill by saliva – Nikon D500, f10, 1/1000, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And I had to post this photo because of the fruit pit dangling from the Sage Thrasher’s bill from what appears to be a thread of saliva as delicate as a spider web. The thrasher had regurgitated the pit and as it dropped towards the ground it looked like a pendulum to me. Shades of Poe, right?

Sage Thrasher sitting pretty in a Wild Rose, Box Elder County, UtahSage Thrasher sitting pretty in a Wild Rose – Nikon D500, f9, 1/1600, ISO 640, 0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I took photos of other birds that were in or on other bushes yesterday morning but the green leaves in these photos is such a nice contrast to the desert area around these roses that these were at the top of my favorites. Of course the pop of red and orange from the rose hips is quite pleasing to my eyes as well, the birds of course were what held my focus.

Alert Sage Thrasher with Wild Rose hips, Box Elder County, UtahAlert Sage Thrasher with Wild Rose hips – Nikon D500, f9, 1/2000, ISO 640, 0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I filled my 64 GB XQD card yesterday with all the photos I took of the birds I saw and I have hours of culling to do but when the subjects are so cooperative why not take as many photos as you desire? After all I might not be so fortunate in this spot ever again so I did what I always do, I made the best of it.

Life is good.

Mia

10 Comments

  1. sue Johnson September 24, 2018 at 7:48 am

    lucky birds, surrounded by food!
    lucky us, you were there!

    Beautiful photos!
    Nature is always abundant, We just have to slow down and take the time to experience it.

    Thank you, Mia!

  2. Pepe Forte September 23, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    Even with my limited knowledge of birds…I do know a little bit about Mockingbirds but have never heard of Sage Thrashers before your post. Great series of pics with very interesting and helpful captions. Thanks Mia.

  3. Patty Chadwick September 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    A FANTASTIC SERIES!!!! Love the colors, details and psitions of the birds and the soft, harmonious backgrounds.b each one was a winner. Those Mocking Birds sure do love rose hips!!! Their blue-grays look so beautiful with the orangey-red of the rose hips….

  4. Kathie Brown September 22, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    Mia, how I would love to see a Sage Thrasher! It was one of the species that eluded me when I lived in AZ, and when I lived in UT, I was not even aware of their existence! Nice set of photos!

  5. Elephants Child September 22, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    What an absolutely WONDERFUL morning. And oh, those colours…
    Saliva and birds isn’t something I think about often. I bet they don’t drool in their sleep though…

  6. Vic McPherson September 22, 2018 at 10:23 am

    64 GB of culling? Oh my head. Nice shots as usual.

  7. April Olson September 22, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Stunning series!

  8. Trudy Brooks September 22, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Just happy little birds, finding fruit to eat. Nice pictures, I too would fill my clips with pictures, you never know what you will get.

  9. Tim Traver September 22, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Never seen Sage Thrashers. Thanks for the lesson: so sparrow-like!

  10. Liz Cormack September 22, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Wow, what a wonderful series of fabulous photos. I was blanked on my travels this morning so it was great to come home to this.

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