Thursday, July 6, 2017

Open wide: Barn Swallow fledgling being fed

Young Barn Swallows make it easy for parents to 'hit the target' in feeding them as they open their beaks wide when any adult swallow comes near. The parents (both parents feed fledglings) will feed them from 2 to 7 days after they fledge from the nest and they have to make many trips to fill these hungry young birds' bellies. So the parent bird is off again to find some delectable insect for it's young.SeEtta

Monday, June 26, 2017

Yellow Warbler fledgling

I spotted the adult Yellow Warbler (bottom pic) fly into a section of thick vegetation and while I watched I saw her feed a fledgling. I moved my car so I could observe from inside using my car as a blind and photograph with minimal disturbance using the silent mode on my mirrorless camera.
The fledgling stayed mostly inside of the vegetation reducing opportunities for better photos but the top two pics show the plumage on this fledgling with the development of limited yellow feathering. SeEtta

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nesting Eastern Phoebe, sitting on eggs in Canon City

This apparent Eastern Phoebe is clearly sitting on eggs.  Her mate was nearby.  As noted on the pics I took these with a long telephoto then cropped them to further enlarge them.  I also took them from inside my car to reduce disturbance and stayed less than a minute.  I comply with  Nest Photography Guidelines.

I don't know for sure why there appears to be a white area around the bird's neck, but maybe due to it's pushing itself into the nest to be on right on top of the eggs causing down feathers (underfeathers) to show.  In the top pic the vegetation and some of the mud that holds it together can be clearly seen.  In the bottom pic note the nest is actually built on top of prior years' nest, while noted as repaired nest at least one involves adding nest material on top of what is remaining from previous nestings.  Note:  best viewed further enlarged, just click on each pic. SeEtta

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Groove-billed Anis, unusual looking southern Texas specialty

 I spotted this ani at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge as it was drinking water at the edge of North Lake. I came around a corner and it was only 10 feet in front of me but it quickly flew into the thick vegetation. After vocalizing it flew up into a tree where I got the top 2 pics.

 I saw my first Groove-billed Anis in Costa some years ago but an experience that is still clear in my memory.  As I was wandering alone around the town of Monteverde so it was my own discovery not just a bird pointed out to me by a guide.
I heard a second ani vocalize in the vegetation near the tree and the first ani flew in there providing me with the above photo.  Unfortunately the thick vegetation made getting a focused photo not possible but it was too neat to get 2 anis together to not include this pic. 
 The next day I returned to Santa Ana which was having Family Days with a number of activities including the opportunity to kayak on North Lake which I took advantage of.  As I rowed the kayak slowly around the lake I got the bottom 3 photos of one or more anis in the trees on the banks of the lake. 
 One interesting tidbit, this species is communal in it's breeding.  These anis " lives in small groups of one to five breeding pairs. They defend a single territory and lay their eggs in one communal nest. All group members incubate the eggs and care for the young." (from AllAboutBirds.org  SeEtta

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My bird photo displayed in the Witte Museum in San Antonio and pics of other parts of the exhibit

I am so very thrilled to post about that my photo just above is displayed in the Texas Wild Exhibit which is a permanent exhibit in the Witte Museum in San Antonio, TX. This is the only photo I have ever sold and the only time I have asked to submit some photos for consideration for display in a museum. I visited the Witte Museum for the first time this week and took these cell phone photos of my photo above and in the Rio Grande Valley display below as well as a number of other displays in the Texas Wild Exhibit.  I was delighted to get to meet Helen Holdsworth, the Curator of Texas Wild, who follows this blog.

Above is a taxidermied ocelot, an Endangered species found in the Rio Grande Valley in small numbers.
Above is a Harris' Hawk, coyote and Northern Bobwhite.

The pic above was taken from the second floor of the museum which has a large opening to the floor below.
Starting above with the Crested Caracara and pics in section below are from South Texas Thornbrush.

The pic above shows how they blend the reality into their displays with a den in the side of this display holding a snake.

The pic above is from a Gulf of Mexico display

The pic above is from the canyon country of Texas.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wood Thrush pics and video of it bathing vigorously

Wood Thrush bathing on South Padre Island,TX from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo.
This Wood Thrush is vigorously bathing in the video above, much deserved after flying hundreds of miles over the Gulf of Mexico. 
 It is wonderful that local birders have provided this important migration stop over on South Padre Island in cooperation with the adjacent Convention Center that allows the plantings and the water feature to provide for tired, hungry and thirsty neotropical migrant birds like this.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Young Painted Bunting

I photographed this young Painted Bunting on South Padre Island in early May when a lot of neotropical migrants were stopping over so I couldn't keep up with them all. 
I believe this is an immature male as in addition to the greenish upperparts there is almost reddish feathering on it's underparts.
Like a number of songbirds it waited for other birds, especially big ole grackles, to get out of the water before it entered.  It finally go in but it was in a location that I couldn't get pics.SeEtta

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Black-chinned Hummingbird that performed several Display Dives

 Yesterday I watched a male Black-chinned Hummingbird performing several Display Dives that Birds of North America online (fee site) says, "...during breeding season Dive Display assumed to be a component of courtship."  Right after the dives it flew off into the vegetation. While I only saw the hummer in flight I did see the purple band at the bottom of it's black chin clearly when the light hit it just the right way.  I checked references and though this species is present in the Lower Rio Grande Valley during breeding season there are not a lot of records of that. 
 So I returned to McAllen Nature Center tonight at the same time as when I saw the Display Dives last night to see if I could refind this bird.  And I did, it was only a short distance from where I observed it doing dives last night.  Unfortunately it perched high in a snag and with lateness of day (7 pm) the photos did not come out as well as I would like.  I did go get Jaxon Rickel, the new naturalist, and he was able to see this bird as it returned two more times to this same snag.  He and others there can watch for other signs of breeding.
 This bird has an unusual amount of dark feathers on it's underparts for this species but has established field marks for Black-chinned:  head looks black, tail projects slightly beyond wingtips, and purple band on lower throat (observed only).
Below shows the location of the hummer with me shooting photos at a high angle. SeEtta

Friday, June 2, 2017

An amazing congregation of Crested Caracaras

 Another neat find during my car birding exploration yesterday was this amazing number of Crested Caracaras congregated on the ground and in a nearby tree.  First I spotted the 15 Crested Caracaras in the pic above that appeared to be eating but I couldn't see what that could be along this long stretch of dirt.  Then I found more than 30 more Crested Caracaras in this nearby tree for a total of almost 50 of these birds in just a few acres of land. There was a pond nearby but it had few birds on it but it would seem likely there is some good food source for them there (they eat rabbits, ground squirrels, skunks,birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, young alligators, fish and large insects per Audubon Birds app).  SeEtta

Let sleeping nighthawks lie..

 I was doing a little exploring and car birding yesterday driving slowly through this little rural town in the Lower Rio Grande Valley when I spotted this nighthawk sleeping on a branch of a tree. Their plumage tends to camouflage them when they roost in trees. Contrary to it's name these birds are most active during dawn and dusk but also may be out during the day and at night.  Since there are Lesser Nighthawks in this part of the country I had to check to see which of the two, Lesser or Common, this was.  I identified this one as a Common Nighthawk given that the white band on it's wings is not beyond the tertials as occurs with Lessers, in fact much before them. 
I do not want to disturb birds especially those sleeping so I took these pics from inside my car being very quiet including using the no-click setting on my camera.  I believe I was successful as it's eyes appeared as closed after I left as when I first spotted it. SeEtta

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

N. Beardless Tyrranulet, a small bird with a long name

This little bird has been a nemesis bird for me-- that is, a bird that has eluded me despite multiple efforts to see it. And it has been being seen by many other birders in the places I looked unsuccessfully for it. Now I did get glimpses of it a few times, but not the kind of viewing that I want for a lifer bird. So I was delighted when I saw the adult bird coming to it's nest at Estero Llano Grande State Park. That sighting only whetted my appetite to find one of these and get a little video as well as better pics than I got at that nest area.

So I was delighted when I heard this tyrannulet singing day before yesterday at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. I got the bottom 4 pics from that sighting but no video.

So I returned today and quickly heard this male bird singing. I got the top 2 pics today and the very short video clip at the bottom.
I really enjoyed watching it grooming which is what it was doing when I got the pic above of it with it's tail stuck up in the air.
This tyrranulet seems to have lighter plumage than the photos of most others on the internet though I did see a few photos that were lighter like this.  And I never saw it raise its crown as is noted to have a slight crest. 
Note the video clip below is very short and a little wobbly (it is not easy to hold a camera with long lens unsupported at a high angle and with the enlargement all tiny movements show up). SeEtta Northern BeardlessTyrannulet, singing from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo.