This sandhill crane sighting was one of the highlights of a recent fun outing in Yellowstone National Park.
These graceful, long-legged cranes may stand over four feet in height, and can often be found sauntering through fields in search of food near shallow marshes. Coloration is technically pale gray, but they often have a rust color from preening themselves with muddy bills. A red head crest along with an unforgettable mating call makes them easily identifiable.
A great blue heron glides gracefully across the Yellowstone River in the golden morning light. Herons are large crane-like birds that can often be found wading near these river banks in morning hours using their long bills to snatch fish out of the water. These birds are among the largest of heron species in North America, reaching a height exceeding 48 inches with a wingspan over six feet across.
A mallard hen takes flight on a cloudy spring morning.
I photographed this duck taking off from Lake Josephine in Riverfront Park, a popular bird-watching spot in Billings, Montana. Like most bird species, these ducks have subdued color patterns as compared to their male counterparts who are known for their shining emerald green heads. One trait they do share are the striking white, black, and indigo bands on their wing feathers.