Category Archives: Birds

The Falling Leaves

Daylight time has gone. Today I ate lunch at 11.30 since my stomach is still on its former schedule. Before the light faded this afternoon I decided to head out around the lake for a quick walk before dark. Good thing too, because the sun was sinking low as I left. I grabbed the camera on my way out, and fixed the big zoom lens, just in case. I haven’t carried this camera for months, but I had a hunch today might be the day – the day the owl returns. Until recently the leaves have been hiding the life that is now visible since they are rapidly falling. What they reveal is very interesting.

a barred owl returns to the same branch every year

Well, sometimes you get lucky. As soon as I entered the copse of trees where the owl can often be found in November, I spotted one, and the sun was lighting it up as if it had been placed there as the perfect setup just waiting for me to come along. I wiggled my way into the brush to get a bit closer and tried to find a line of sight that didn’t have branches in the way.

buck with something funny on his head

Satisfied with some decent pics I continued on my way, taking a diversion to check for horned owls in another part of the wood where they have been known to hang out, but they weren’t about, or couldn’t be seen if they were. Back on the main path, a doe jumped out in front of me and into the brush. Then I spotted her mate half hidden behind a tree. He cautiously came out and I got a shot of him crossing the path. With his pointy antlers I stayed well away in case he took a notion to shoo me off. I didn’t notice the odd antler that looks like it sprouted from between his eyes! Just a few yards further on I looked up to see a huge paper wasp nest that was now in plain sight.

a big wasp nest

Continuing on I crossed the new floating bridge and was pleased that the far end of the trail will never again be flooded over, since they raised a berm there about 4 feet high. Around the backside and turning east I glanced up to see a Red Tailed Hawk sitting in a bare tree, and right below it another large dangling wasp nest. I crept as close as I could to get a better shot of the hawk, expecting it to take off at any second, but it seemed to be watching things on the ground and it chose to ignore me. Often they depart as soon as I start approaching.

red tailed hawk

The south side of the lake has now flooded again as it does once the rain comes, and the slough was filled with ducks and geese. Way off in the distance near some tall firs I thought I saw an eagle fly past.

ducks being ducks, and geese being geese

Once I rounded the last side of the circle I spied a pair of Bald Eagles wheeling and spinning over a small flooded meadow. They dropped down as if to grab a fish not once but several times and scattered a flock of ducks and birds.

eagle swooping in

final approach

The pair landed beside the water, a rare sight, and I watched them have a drink.

think I’ll have a drink

Then they left and the ducks all soon reappeared as if nothing had happened.

all clear, back to feeding

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Hummingbird Update

May 1 – one baby left

Late this afternoon I walked over to inspect the nest and saw only one baby. I had to use the flash to get a picture as the nest was in deep shadow. Two days ago there were still two in there:

April 29th – still 2 on board

Late afternoon light is a good time for pictures as the low sun makes for dramatic contrast.

rabbit

robin

sparrow

goose

 

 

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How to Grow a Bird

The babies are 10 days old now, and have increased in size enormously. They should be in the nest for another 10 days before they can fly. When I arrived the pair were sitting with beaks up, and no mother in sight. Then a squeak and she appeared on the nest. A quick feed and then she was gone. One baby got up and stretched, then they went back to their repose with beaks up.

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momma arrives

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baby stands up for a stretch and a look around

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hey, there’s a world out there

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back to sleep again

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The Hatching

view from the sunny side – she always has her back to the sun

The baby hummingbirds arrived either Sunday April 8, or Monday the 9th. Anyways, on Monday the mother was feeding and the day before she was not. She keeps her back to the sun and so when I shoot from the east side my camera can’t deal with the brightness of the sky and the dim light within the tree.

feeding baby hummingbirds

I managed to fix them up as best I can, and they do give an idea of what’s going on. I was lucky to get a shot of the mother’s long tongue quite by luck.

Coincident with the hatched hummers, comes the first turtle of the season.

turtle #1

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On the 7th Day

quietly she waits, keeping the eggs warm

The hummingbird sits patiently still. No babies yet to be seen. Nearby we see some other birds, no doubt thinking about nesting, or are they?

flicker chipping holes

spotted towhee, and a golden crowned sparrow

I visited 2 days ago, and it was raining.

I thought the nest was empty:

not quite empty

On closer inspection I saw that the mother was there, when she decided to shift position.

 

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Hummingbird Nest Day 3

Back to the nest this afternoon, and the momma was sitting there when we arrived. No babies yet. Once again it was sunny and windy. I sat on the opposite side of the sun and tried to get some shots but the light was bad. Just then I looked up and there right above the nest, perhaps within 20 feet, sat a very windblown red tailed hawk. It too had the sun at its back so I had to move about to try and get a shot from a better angle. I was going from hawk to hummingbird, adjusting my camera and trying for a good shot all the while the wind was blowing the hawk’s feathers and the hummingbird nest all over the place.

female Anna’s Hummingbird

I bet the hummingbird knew the hawk was there – she hardly moved while we observed her, the hawk right above her nest.

 

Red Tailed Hawk

A few people passed by and didn’t notice anything, so we didn’t bother to tell them what we were looking at either. Further on we saw numerous birds and one oddity – a Rufous, or Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), an uncommon bird hereabouts.

Rufous or Eastern Towhee

The regular crowd was out too; one Great Blue Heron, Mallards, Song Sparrows, Coots and Stellar’s Jays

 

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Foolsday Follies

More scenes from forest and field:

Stellar’s Jays are back for a while in transit

established lodgings for sparrows, after years sitting empty

Grape Hyacinth (muscari) in the field

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