Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crested Caracara

For those of you who visit this blog regularly, you will realize that I am particularly fond of birds of prey, and you might think that the Red Tail Hawk is my favorite. But the truth is, the Red Tail is #2 on my list. This bird is #1.

One of the first uncommon (to me) birds that we saw when we moved out to the country was a Crested Caracara. I have always wanted to get a good shot of one, and yesterday on our brief outing, we saw this fine fellow. While he was sitting on the telephone pole, he gave us several great poses.

But once he decided to fly, he was particularly difficult, putting his back to us, and putting several poles and wires between himself and the camera. Still they are such majestic birds! (We try not to think of the fact that they are carrion-eaters, who only rarely hunt.)


The other day, Marc told me he had found a whole flock of little birds with yellow chests and a "little black spot" right in the middle. I could hardly imagine what this bird really looked like.

However, yesterday, even though we were on a pretty tight schedule, we spent 30-45 minutes on one of our favorite birding haunts, Woods Rd. And there we found these lovely birds!

Across the road from the first picture, was a pair. The bird to the right (obviously a male) gives us a bit more of a side view, enabling us to see the yellow eyebrows and rufus shoulders.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think this might be a female. They lack the black patch, and the yellow eyebrows are fainter. She has her back to us and you can see the plain patch on the rump.

Marc and I both struggled trying to find this lovely bird in our bird book. With all the yellow, the obvious place to start was the warblers, but no joy... I had noticed that the beak was a bit thicker, and when I turned over to the Cardinals and Grossbeaks -- there it was! The classification of this bird is Spiza americana. Sibley makes this comment, "Dickcissel may belong in the family Icteridae or here in the Cardinalidae, but is not clearly related to either."

Either way, it's a new one for our lifebook -- and we're really excited about that!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spring and Life

Wow -- it's been 20 days since I last posted. My apologies to all!

A couple of interesting things have happened. One is that I have a new position at work... along with the old one -- so I've been doubled up on work of late and pretty tired by the time the weekend rolls around. The other interesting thing is that around here, all the birds fly north for the summer. Those are my excuses, and I'm sticking to them! ;-)

Well... not all of the birds have flown north...

It appears that the really light-colored (Krider's) Red Tail is still around, suggesting it is a resident. We also saw a broad-winged hawk in a bush right beside our driveway. Marc thinks it might have been injured. And we've had an Indigo Bunting at the feeders lately. We've put up a hummingbird feeder, but have had very few takers so far.

We're kind of stuck at home lately trying to get our washer repaired -- so I'm not getting out much to do bird pics. Hopefully we'll have some this weekend if the repair guy comes early enough!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Blue Birds

After complaining about my inability to get any good shots of bluebirds, a friend told me that she had bluebirds in her yard and they often nested in her birdhouses. Yesterday she called to tell me that a pair of bluebirds had babies and invited me over. The light was bad, so I put it off until today. And it was a perfect day for it.

I was able to take several really great shots of the birds (the parents only, the babies are only a few days old). The first shot is the female. And as you can see, I was having some fun with PSP and the frame tool.

Here's the male. The birds would often wait outside and look around to be sure there were no predators waiting before going in. They would also peek out the entrance for several minutes before "zooming" out to get more bugs for the hungry babies.

This has to be my favorite of all. The birds were so fast, that most of the flying shots were merely a blur. I was thrilled with this one. One interesting thing, if both birds came together, the female would wait until the male fed the babies before she went in with her catch. In fact, sometimes she would wait for him even if she arrived first. No feminist movement among bluebirds!


Not the greatest location for this shot (around the bird feeders), but that's where you'll often see sparrows, when they're not on the ground! This is a great action shot of a Chipping Sparrow, taken while visiting at a friend's house.

He's hopping from a feeder to a bracket, which I removed to show the bird better. You'll notice, I've also been playing with the text tool. Hope it's not too much of a distraction.