Saturday, August 13, 2011

American Kestrel: chowing down

It didn't take this female bird long to start eating her grasshopper prey, a frequent meal item for this species. It's interesting how she holds her prey in one 'hand' while she eats it. SeEtta

American Kestrel: only a few yards above

Here is another a in series of close-up encounters I have experienced in the past few weeks--this time this American Kestrel flew onto a tree branch less than 25 feet above me earlier this week. This is especially surprising as I have found this species to be pretty wary of people. If you super-enlarge this pic (by double clicking on it then clicking on it again) you can see that the prize it is clutching in it's foot is a grasshopper. With her mouth open, she seems to be ready to devour her catch. More to come. SeEtta

Bullock's Oriole: more close ups

I was very surprised to see the gleam in this bird's eye which is shown so well in the top pic. So commonly this is the result of photographer's using flash, something I rarely use and did not use in these pics. This is all natural, likely from the sunlight, no artificial gleam in the eye.

I mentioned in the previous post that this bird was part of the landbird migration along the river corridor. So how do I know it's a migrant and not a bird that was here this summer? There were few Bullock's Orioles in this area this summer and those in the closest nests (1/4 mile away) had already moved on weeks ago.

In all the pics this bird has it's bill open--it was pretty hot and this is how birds cool off. SeEtta

Bullock's Oriole up very close and personal

Landbird migration has been in full swing this week in riparian areas in the Canon City, CO area. I have apparently been living right as this oriole flew in less than 15 feet above me providing a wonderful opportunity for close-up photos.

From the plumage characteristics this bird is a female or immature. The mostly flesh/pinkish colored lower mandible (with rustyish markings) makes me think this may be a juvenile. Birds of North America online calls the lower mandible "bluish gray, dull white at tip and doesn't mention anything about juvenile birds nor could I find anything online or in my books about it. Note: I didn't do any color modification or other editing of these pics with the exception of some cropping to preserve color and shading. SeEtta

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lewis'sWoodpeckers: view of adult from below and a juvenile

As I noted in last post the Lewis's Woodpeckers landed in a snag almost directly above me and that produced the top pic, a view from right underneath this adult bird. This provides a very nice view of the undertail coverts as well as the underparts and the tail feathers from below.
The bird in the bottom pic is one of this year's hatch evident as it is in juvenal plumage and it is late summer. Though not real apparent, it does have some reddish feathering on it's breast and belly.   It should begin moulting into Basic I plumage this fall. SeEtta

Lewis's Woodpeckers: return to nest site area

It is my experience that after the Lewis's Woodpecker young fledge the parents move them quickly away from the nest site as soon as their flight skills allow, likely to reduce predation which is reported to be heavy by American Kestrels (per Birds of North America online). So I haven't seen these birds for two weeks since they were still in the nest until this morning when the parents brought them back while foraging. I got some close views (30-40 feet from me, close for this species) as they landed in a snag almost directly above me. In order not to flush them I stayed in my car and took these photos out the car window-which required uncomfortable positioning that would have been easier to do when I was in my 20's. SeEtta


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rock Wren at wetlands??

As I sat quietly waiting for the Least Bittern at Holcim Wetlands this rather disheveled Rock Wren 'appeared' by a log less than 10 feet away. It seemed curious about me and kept hopping out from the safety of the log coming within only about 5 feet. My little dog was lying beside me but the bird seemed indifferent to him,maybe because he was lying still also. From the looks of this wren it is molting. After hopping around for several minutes it flew off away from the wetlands and towards the RR tracks--the only location nearby with rocks is around the RR tracks. Maybe the wren had gone down to the wetlands for a bath. I cropped the top pic in order to produce the super close-up in the bottom pic (very fine details can be seen by clicking on the bottom pic then clicking on it again). SeEtta