27 Oct 2011

The Amazing Cooper's Hawk

I was lucky enough to get many photos of a pair of juvenile Cooper's hawks in the fall.  Their flight capabilities are quite simply amazing, both within the forest and without.  These photos I took of one of them in the span of just one minute with a fast shutter speed, show just how amazing.

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk taking off
Full stop mid-air
There were many Crows and Ravens in the distance, kicking up a ruckus as they harassed another bird.  The Cooper's Hawk, who had been perched, took off as if to follow, then suddenly spun away abruptly  screaming in agitation.

Turning on a Dime
Powering away
I did not see what bird the Crows and Ravens were harassing, but whatever it was the Cooper's hawk obviously decided it wanted no part off it.


Subscribe in a reader

20 Oct 2011

Four benefits of fall

Although the arrival of fall means the coming of winter, when I want to  head for the nearest cave and do what bears do best and sleep, it does offer up four very good benefits for birdwatchers.

The first of these benefits, is that the many colors that are produced by the leaves of bushes and trees just before they fall, serve to reduce and even negate the natural camouflage of many bird species.   Green, gray, yellow or brown, or shades and patterns thereof, blend in very well with the various green shades of summer leaves but not quite so much with red, gold, orange,or maroon.  The chances of spotting an unknown bird species, or a species that is expert at avoiding detection is thereby increased.

White-throated sparrow
Oven bird

The second benefit is that you can hear many birds even when they don't sing.  Birds that prefer to forage on the forest floor, for example, now can't help but make rustling sounds as they move along the forest  floor through dry fallen leaves.   Other birds, as they hop from branch to branch, cause dry leaves to rub again each other and dry branches to crackle.  This is how I spotted the Ovenbird in the photo above.  A first encounter for me.

Yellow rumped warbler
Dark eyed Junco
Another benefit that I find very convenient, once the leaves have fallen is that you can actually see where you put your feet as you move over the forest floor in search of birds.  I don't always follow trails when I head out on bird watch and I like to go where the birds might be.  This means I often look for tiny little clearings with many bushes, tall trees that are in full view, or simply any little spot where other people are not near enough to startle birds into flight.  I have also sprained my ankles several times and don't wish to repeat the experience.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Black-capped Chickadee
The last and best benefit of fall, is that at this time of year birds will perch or land near you on a naked branch to feed, in full light and uncaring of your presence.  As long as you don't make any abrupt movement or excessive noise that is.  This makes for great opportunities for photographers and birdwatchers alike.  I got these last two photos above by moving off the trail and into the forest and then simply standing relatively still.  When I moved I did so without any hurry, but I was not overly cautious either.  These birds didn't mind at all.


Subscribe in a reader

19 Oct 2011

Delightfully Winged: Humming bird Moth

Many birds can hover, but not a single bird does it quite as well as a humming bird. There is however a creature that can compete with, and is often mistaken for a hummingbird.   The White-lined Phynx moth, aka humming bird moth, or hawk moth, does it equally as well.  It too feeds on nectar and helps nature pollinate flowers, including the rare Lemon Lily.  Host plants for this moth include: Evening Primrose, Apple, Tomato, Willow Weed and Fuchsia.

The White-lined Phynx is a beautiful moth that is very colorful when compared to others of it's species.  Unfortunately I have only the one photo in which it's wings are folded, as I do not often encounter this moth.
If you wish to see this The White-lined Phynx moth's full splendor, while seeing it fly like a hummingbird, just follow this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BVrKgTRivA


Subscribe in a reader

14 Oct 2011

Downy Woodpecker-The tree surgeon

Today I had the chance to watch a Downy woodpecker at work.  He apparently found a small infestation of bugs in the bark of a live tree.   Over the space of few short minutes he had carved out a small hole,while at the same time ignoring my presence altogether.  Ten minutes later that hole had grown to the size of a loony or twoony.  He worked hard at it, pausing only a second or two at a time.  Once in a while he would reach into the hole.  I'm guessing to eat whatever bug he found.  Like all surgeons he's going to leave a scar, but the tree will survive.  Below are the photos.

Surgeon found the problem
Taking a closer look
Digging in
Beginning effort
Up the effort
Digging deeper
More effort needed
Work faster
Almost done


Subscribe in a reader

6 Oct 2011

Dark-eyed and Oregon Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco introduced himself to me just last year, shortly after I moved.  These birds are among the last of the migrating bird species to leave for their summer homes every year.  So it is no surprise that lately I see Dark-eyed Junco's almost everywhere I go.   The Dark-eyed Junco is a handsome bird who is slate black from the tip of his tail to the top of  his head, and over it to the throat and chest.  His belly is an off white and his bill is pink.
Dark-eyed Junco perched
This year I was surprised to learn the Dark-eyed Junco has a cousin, the Oregon Junco, who graced my backyard with his presence just recently, and caused me some momentary confusion.
Oregon Junco Female

Unfortunately the photos I managed to capture of the Oregon Junco are somewhat blurred.  However, you can still clearly see the difference between between the two birds, even though it turns out the photos I have are of a female Oregon.  The Oregon Junco male has a slate black head and the same black throat and chest.  However, his back and sides are rusty brown.

These colors are more muted in the female depicted here, fading to a slate gray as you can see.  But the female's eyes are outlined by a patch of slate black.  Like the Dark-eyed Junco, the Oregon's belly is off white and the bill is pink.

Oregon Junco
When I did some more research on the Dark-eyed Junco,  I discovered that the Oregon Junco is not his only cousin.  There are several other species, including a White-winged Junco and a Pink-sided Junco.  Needless to say, I can't wait to get the chance to view some of the other cousins.

Subscribe in a reader