Harney and I enjoyed an early morning walk in beautiful cool weather at Red Feather Prairie this morning (SE shore of Saylorville Reservoir, Polk Co.). HENSLOW'S SPARROWS were singing with gusto and I got decent or better looks at more than one of them. A juvenile EASTERN MEADOWLARK was parked like a lump on a small dead tree- kinda ugly but cool to see. Several adults were around, including one who landed on the paved path about 10 meters ahead of us and seemed to be challenging us with his intimidating rattle. We eventually won that standoff. BROWN THRASHERS and ORCHARD ORIOLES were numerous and conspicuous, which was a treat. We had 42 species in a leisurely 1.5 hour stroll.
At the south end of the prairie a noisy BELTED KINGFISHER rattled past us overhead. We saw the same one (presumably) after we reversed our path and headed back to the car. As we passed the small tree-lined pond next to the N/S path along the west edge of the prairie, I noticed birds on a dead tree that had fallen into and was sticking out of the water. It's not uncommon to see a kingfisher at this pond, even a pair of them now and then. Today there were four kingfishers perched on that tree, an adult and three juvies, I believe. [BTW, the internet tells me that typical clutch size is 5 - 8 eggs.] They were close enough to me to get pretty good looks, but just far enough that the finer physical points weren't super distinct. The young ones seemed slightly smaller than the presumed adult, their bills seemed just a smidge smaller than the size of an adult's bill, and the markings on the breast indicating juveniles were visible. The adult remained perched, while the young birds were making short practice sallies to pick insects off of the pond surface. Clearly they had already been flying for some days now. I had never before seen young kingfishers, and this was a real thrill as they are one of my favorite bird families. Nice experience and a great morning to be out.