Friday, December 4, 2009

Mockingbirds found able to recognize humans

"University of Florida biologists are reporting that mockingbirds recognize and remember people whom the birds perceive as threatening their nests. If the white-and-grey songbirds common in cities and towns throughout the Southeast spot their unwelcome guests, they screech, dive bomb and even sometimes graze the visitors' heads -- while ignoring other passers-by or nearby strangers. . . . The paper describes the first published research showing that wild animals living in their natural settings recognize individuals of other species, Levey said. It may provide clues as to why mockingbirds and selected other bird and animal species flourish in heavily populated cities and suburbs -- while other species either grow rare or disappear entirely." Read more SeEtta

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Williamson's Sapsucker's very yellow belly

I spent some time this morning watching the female Williamson's Sapsucker at the Abbey as she fed. It was quite cold and a little snowy and she was very actively feeding in a Scots pine tree. Though the light was poor with the cloud cover, I was able to get these pics that show off her very lemony-yellow belly. Some birders who are unfamiliar with sapsuckers incorrectly think that those with very yellow-colored bellies are of the species Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (their pale yellow,sometimes buffy, bellies are not prominent).
I was able to get better views of this birds chest today and could not see the black that is a field mark for adult females. Since her body plumage is clearly black, not brown as in juvenal plumage, I think this may be a first winter female in Basic I plumage. SeEtta

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hummingbird with ice on tail!

I ran across a blog post, with photo,about a Anna's Hummingbird with ice on it's tail--poor thing. However it was noted that the bird could still fly. This hummingbird ran into some unusually cold weather in Alpine,TX which is in the Big Bend area of West Texas (I saw footage on tv of snow falling in El Paso Texas). SeEtta

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sneaky snipe

While at the Canon City Riverwalk this morning I caught a glimpse of a bird about 25 feet away fly a short distance that apparently flushed at my presence--ah, yes, a Wilson's Snipe. I inadvertently flushed it again while I took a few photos--not because I got too close as I actually moved slightly further away (and slowly) as I tried to get a clear shot of the bird. Apparently it wouldn't tolerate my being able to see it without the foliage that provided it with some cover. SeEtta

More Canyon Towhee close-ups

The top pic here is my favorite--it provides such a sharp view of the Canyon Towhee's eye with the pupil showing distinctly inside the brown iris and the clear pale/whitish eye ring. It's crown appears more rust than reddish as described by Sibley and others. Double-click on this pic-it enlarges even more and stays quite sharp.
I included the middle pic since it shows almost all of the bird. The bottom pic shows what Sibley describes as a "'necklace' of dark spots" and the distinctive dark breast spot. SeEtta

Very up close: Canyon Towhee

Yesterday I was in Pueblo,CO for non-birding purposes. I drove out to the Pueblo Reservoir to walk my dogs, and get a little birding fix--and it turned out to be very little birding. Though it was mid-afternoon-3 pm when I got there-the light was already starting to fade a little (this is a very big deal with super zoom camera lens as they need a lot of light) which made looking at distant gulls too frustrating. But I did find several cooperative Canyon Towhees that were more interested in feeding than noticing the click of my camera (I stayed inside my car so I didn't disturb them).
I have kept the 1.4 extender on my Canon Xti with my 400 mm,f5.6 lens--with 1.6 multiplier from my camera (it's not a "full frame" camera), I have an effective focal length of over 800 mm.
This, and cropping pics to enlarge them, provides these super close-up views. I like the top pic here for it's very detailed view of the bird's bill including the nares and the eye.I also really liked the view of the bird's legs and feet (accentuated by some fortuitous light on them) in the middle pic which I enlarged for even super close-up viewing in the last pic. It's interesting that this bird's legs are pretty much flesh colored or pinkish. Double-click on this pic for an amazing view of it's legs and feet. More pics in next post. SeEtta

Border Wall-expensive/ineffective/dumb

"Billions for a US-Mexico border fence, but is it doing any good?
The cost for adding 600 miles of new barriers is $2.4 billion so far. The new fencing has been breached more than 3,000 times, a government report finds." Read the full story in Christian Science Monitor. SeEtta