Monday, September 26, 2022
Of course, when you see a new bird, you'll be fumbling with your camera to try to document its presence, and indeed that was the case with me. They were constantly moving and I only got a couple of fuzzy images, but at least you can see the odd color scheme. I sensed this small flock was on the move, but if I see them again, I'll try to get a few nicer shots and add them in!
Saturday, July 16, 2022
According to the Sibley guide, there are sixteen species of hummingbirds to be found in the American West, but in our county only six species have ever been noted. Of them only the Anna's Hummingbird is a year-round resident. Black-chinned Hummingbirds are relatively common during the summer, and Rufous Hummingbirds migrate through the region in the fall and spring. The other three are rarely seen.
Overall the lack of diversity simplifies hummingbird identification at our feeder. The orange-colored Rufous can't be mistaken, and the Black-chinned will have purple iridescence around the neck. The Anna's are magenta, although it's off a bit in these pictures because of the reflection of the feeder.
I do wish they would get along at our feeder. They are territorial about their food supply and will spend more time chasing intruders than they do eating!
Saturday, April 30, 2022
Having nests out in the open like the Killdeer prefers is also perilous because of the threat of all manner of predators. There are cats, foxes, otters, and rats in the area, as well as kestrels and ravens. The Killdeer eggs are well camouflaged among the stones, and the bird is famous for its broken-wing strategy of distracting predators away from the nest.
Thursday, April 21, 2022
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Thursday, April 7, 2022
But then there are the migrants. They can only be seen during part of the year, some only during the winter, others in the spring and summer. New seasons bring the promise of that "first of season" sighting, the excitement of seeing a beautiful and spectacular bird after an absence of many many months. It's a neat moment that sometimes takes my breath away. It happened yesterday when I saw the first Bullock's Oriole (Icterus bullockii) of the new year. The bird is not totally rare, and I will probably see a few dozen of them over the next few months, but that first moment you realize what you are seeing is just plain special. Especially when they hang out long enough to get pictures.
Left unsaid of course is the even rarer potential of seeing a bird that you have never seen before, or one that no one in the county or state has ever seen. Climate change has resulted in some species ranging farther north than ever before, so the day may come when I will see something really special, like a Vermilion Flycatcher or Summer Tanager on the Tuolumne River. And that, my friends, is why I am "that guy" out there walking every day looking to the sky, instead of tromping on a machine at the gym.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Merlins are the 'Lady Hawks' of Medieval times, but they are actually falcons, and like other falcon species, they have been used by falconers for years for hunting and hobby purposes. They underwent a severe decline because of the use of DDT in the fifties and sixties, but they have recovered nicely since the pesticide was outlawed.
It was a pleasant surprise to see one today.