An Eastern Meadowlark peeks up from tall grass in a field in Slate Run Metro Park, Canal Winchester, Ohio.
One of the most challenging things about my wildlife photo hikes is that I never know what I’m going to see. On rare occasions I see little to nothing. On other hikes it seems as if birds are everywhere.
Then there are days like one in spring 2013 when I was hiking the wetlands trail in Slate Run Metro Park southeast of Columbus, Ohio. I had seen little to photograph during more than 90 minutes of hiking and was cutting through a field to return to the car when I heard low whistling sound coming from the high grass to my left.
I could see the grass moving. I didn’t know what was there (a bird maybe, or a groundhog or raccoon) so I pointed the camera toward the area, focused and waited.
I was surprised when an Eastern Meadowlark popped up above the grass to look around. I had never photographed — or even seen — a meadowlark in my years of nature photography. I know they are supposed to be common throughout this part of the country, but they aren’t common when I’m hiking.
The bird’s bright yellow underside really stood out against the surroundings. I snapped off about eight shots before the bird ducked back into the high grass. I stayed in the spot for about 10 more minutes but the meadowlark never reappeared.
Meadowlarks are a bit larger than an American Robin but smaller than a Blue Jay. According to my bird field guides, the birds spend much of their time walking on the ground, concealed by grasses or crops. I can attest to that.
The field guides also say Eastern Meadowlarks sing from exposed perches like fenceposts or power lines. I’ll take their word on that fact.
I was surprised when an Eastern Meadowlark popped up above the grass to look around. I had never photographed — or even seen — a meadowlark in my years of nature photography.