Jessica Decker is an Elkhart native with an eye for nature photography. You can see more of her work on her community blog on The Elkhart Truth, Nature Lovers.
I have so many nature pictures from our area that I would like to share. One thing I love to take pictures of is the birds that migrate through, spend their winters here or live here all year long. I would like to share some of my bird pictures that I have taken in the past and more recently.
A lot of times we go through our day without even noticing these little creatures because we are so busy. I like to sit on my porch, watch birds and just relax. Sometimes it amazes me at the intelligence and emotion that I see from them. I hope that you enjoy my pictures.
My fiancé and I came across this Bald Eagle one late winter day while out hiking and looking for a nest that we had heard of. We looked up, and there he was just staring at us. Unfortunately you have to go a little further south in Indiana to see them all year long. The ones we follow in Elkhart take off back north in early spring.
This is a Mourning Dove. I had to get his picture – he was just sitting near me on the porch. So chubby and cute. Mourning Doves can raise up to six broods a year, more than any other Indiana bird. When they fly, their wings clap above and below their bodies, which can make a noise when they fly.
My dad has made several bluebird boxes for my parents’ yard, and we watched this one taking food to its nest. Eastern Bluebirds are one of my favorites, and I have many pictures of them, although they can be hard to snap. An interesting fact about bluebirds is that their feathers are actually black. It's the structure of their feathers and the way they scatter the light that makes them look that brilliant blue color.
Here is an in-flight picture of the Eastern Bluebird after taking food to its nest. I love motion pictures of birds.
This is a beautiful Cedar Waxwing. They are very social birds and sometimes the count along Lake Michigan can reach into the thousands! It is a rare winter visitor in Indiana.
This cute bird is a Downy Woodpecker. They’re very hard to get pictures of because they move and jump around so much. Woodpeckers have feathery nostrils to help filter out sawdust while they are pecking away. Very entertaining birds to watch.
I love these little birds, they are adorable. This is a Tufted Titmouse. The bond between the Titmouse family is so strong that the babies often stay with their parents and help raise the next group of baby birds.
Common Goldeneye is the name of this beautiful duck. They winter in Indiana, but their breeding grounds are the boreal forests of Alaska and Canada.
This is a Black-capped Chickadee. These birds come to my feeders regularly are also entertaining to watch.
This is a Common Goldeneye and its mate.
This is a Hooded Merganser. Hooded Mergansers have serrated bills for grasping slippery fish. They are migratory birds in Indiana. How lucky to get a picture of this amazing looking waterfowl.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers live here year round. Unlike most woodpeckers, which peck in the trees for insects, these woodpeckers eat large amounts of plants. In the wild they can sometimes live up to 20 years.
These four Cardinals looked so beautiful sitting in the bushes together hanging out. They can be territorial at times, and sometimes attack their own reflections, so these guys must be pretty good friends.
This may look like a Christmas card, and the picture isn't the best quality, but I love it. Cardinal pairs are amazing, and I think that the females are just as beautiful as the all red males. They are one of few bird species that have such a strong bond as a pair. In the spring, when they renew their bond, the male gives the female a seed and she eats it. So romantic!
I am not trying to be mean, but this guy must be really stressed, sick or old. I have never seen a balding wild bird like this, so I had to take his picture, as male baldness runs in my family. I hope that the poor guy is OK. Maybe he is one that attacked his own reflection and lost.
This looks like a Red-tailed Hawk, and I believe that it has found its dinner. In my opinion, they are also romantic birds. Almost like Bald Eagles’ courting ritual, Red-tailed Hawks will lock talons in the air and tumble to the ground until just barely missing a crash landing. They also make stick nests similar to the Bald Eagle but aren't nearly as large.
Seeing an American Robin after a long winter is such a wonderful sight. It’s a sign spring is on the way. This mother American Robin made her nest in our front yard. What a beautiful tree she made her nest in. When you see a Robin with its head cocked to the side, you would think it’s listening for danger. Actually, with its eyes on the side, it's looking at the ground for movement to find food.
This mother Robin decided to make its nest on the top of my dad's ladder he had outside. They sure will make nests in odd places. They usually have two broods a year. While the male takes care of the first babies, the female takes care of the eggs and fledglings from the second clutch of eggs.
Look what we found hopping around in our yard! A baby American Robin. It was so absolutely adorable. It was gone the next day, so I am hoping one of its parents came to save it. I don't like thinking of the other options. The babysitter wasn't doing his or her job that day.
The Great Blue Heron is another beautiful bird to watch. It is the tallest of all herons and egrets in North America. They actually make their nests in treetops and are very sensitive to humans while nesting. Best to observe them from a distance.
This is a picture of three Bald Eagles in a tree at sunset off Greenleaf Boulevard last winter.
This Bald Eagle was feeding while a gull and several younger eagles waited their turn.
Two Bald Eagles sun themselves in a tree while waiting for their next meal to come along.
This is probably one of my top three favorite birds to watch – the hummingbird. Weighing in at about the weight of a nickel, the hummingbird migrates 500 miles every year across the Gulf of Mexico. These birds can fly up to 60 mph and are one of the very few birds that can fly vertically and in reverse. They can have such bright and vivid colors.