I was out recently taking pictures when I saw this Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris, family:Alaudidae). It is exciting to see a species of bird I have never laid eyes on before. The feeling you get is kind of like the thrill you get when Easter egg hunting or panning for gold. You never know what you will find and the emotional payoff makes your day.
As you can see this little fellow blends in with the dirt along the edge of a country road. He is an immature male. When I first saw him, I thought he might be a young quail by the way he trotted along the road. His throat and breast markings also made me think quail at the long distance I was forced to view him because of his nervousness. At this distance, the horns they exhibit suggest the top knot of a quail. The little guy wouldn’t let me get closer than 100 feet before moving away which made taking his picture a challenge.
In this image, you can see the two horns visible on the top of his head and the yellow throat markings. The yellow in the throat makes one think he might be a Meadow Lark, but Meadow Larks lack horns. You can also see that this bird is not built like a quail, nor does he fly like one.
The day I saw this fellow, a little farther down the road I photographed another species I had not see before. You can see pictures of that adventure here . All in all, it is a remarkable day when you get to see two species of birds you haven’t seen before.