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Great Kiskadee tongue and more

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{note: to see the rest of photos and discussion please click on 'Read More') I rarely get a photo that shows a bird's tongue clearly so I was delighted to find this one provided a nice view of the tongue of a Great Kiskadee, a neotropical species found in the U.S. only in South Texas. I photographed this bird in a water feature at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen, Tx at the beginning of the month.
The second pic just above also shows the tongue but in a relaxed position.  Also notice the 'wiskers' on it's bill--they help guide flying insects into it's mouth.
I added this third pic as it more clearly shows the hook on the end of it's beak (actually on the upper mandible). 
While hooks are often used for tearing meat this species usually eats arthropods, mollusks and "...small vertebrates (especially small fish but also tadpoles, lizards, small snakes, and mice)." (Birds of North America online) I guess the hook would help it tear flesh from …

A third local Bald Eagle this week, this one in Canon City

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I spotted this immature Bald Eagle about a quarter mile from the Arkansas River on the far east side of Canon City, perched several hundred yards from the road over an agricultural field where a flock of Canada Geese were feeding. I found a somewhat closer road to photograph this bird from but it was about 300 feet away so I had to crop the pic severely to show the plumage. I believe this is a second year eagle in Basic/Sub Adult I plumage for showing these field marks from Birds of North America online: "Crown tan contrasting sharply with blackish-brown ear coverts;" "median and greater upperwing coverts brownish olive and variably mottled white";"most individuals with inverted triangular patch of white mottling on the mantle;". SeEtta

Brush Hollow Bald Eagles

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I spotted the above adult Bald Eagle at Brush Hollow Reservoir over the week-end. As I almost always do I stayed in my car and kept my camera in it's silent mode to avoid flushing this raptor. I am pleased to report that it not appear disturbed by my presence and remained perched just like this when I drove off a few minutes later.

I actually spotted this immature Bald Eagle the day before I saw the adult eagle. Unfortunately it was more distant and backlit. I believe it is a 4 year old eagle in Basic III plumage which Birds of North America online (subscrition) describes in part: "Head white, with distinct brown flecking on forehead and crown, with dark flecking around eye or extending posterior to eye in some individuals...Rectrices mostly white with brown flecking proximally and heavy brown mottling on distal margins of feathers." Also note that the eye has changed to yellow and the base of it's bill is yellow now. SeEtta

Leucistic dark morph Harlan's Hawk, very eye-catching

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I spotted this dark morph Harlan's Hawk perched on a pole just outside of the small town of Manzanola, CO two days ago. I inadvertently flushed it and it's bright white leucistic feathers made this bird really stand out. I see several Harlan's Red-tailed Hawks most years but I have never seen a leucistic one.

Dark morph harlani characteristics include blackish body and underwing coverts, substantial white on it's breast, white streaks on head, white underside of tail with blackish terminal band contrasts with the blackish uppertail that has some white basal feathers.   The bright white leucistic wing feathers are most eye-catching.
"Leucism is defined as a partial or total lack of eumelanin and phaeomelanin in the feathers as a
result of inherited disorder of the deposition of these pigments in the feathers....Different forms of leucism are known and can vary from only a few white feathers (<25 br="" individuals=&quo…

Dark morph Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk in West Texas

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As I was driving north on the way back to Colorado I spotted this Harlan's Hawk perched right next to H87 a little north of O'Donnell, TX over the week-end. As I was driving the 75 mph speed limit I had to make a turn several hundred yards down the highway and go back to confirm it. Like most other Harlan's Hawks I have observed it was extremely sensitive to being looked at and photographed so even though I stopped on the shoulder of the other side of this divided 4 lane highway it took off before I could take any photos. It did just fly to the next utility pole so I carefully followed and stopped even further back to get the photos which I took from inside my car so even though I took the pics at 600mm I still had to crop them severely to get these pics.
Harlan's characteristics on this hawk include: a white streaked throat and breast on very dark feathers with white lores, white supercilium plus additional and fairly extensive white on it's head. In keepin…

What birds do you see?

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There are two birds in this photo. Can you see them? Can you identify them? Click on 'Read more' to find out. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Two Common Pauraques, a neotropical bird species whose cryptic plumage makes it very well camouflaged. They are only found in the U.S. in southern parts of Texas with the highest numbers found in the Rio Grande Valley. Even so it is very unusual to find two of them roosting near each other and especially both the gray and brown…

Green Heron, hunting

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I spotted this Green Heron walking just behind the vegetation in the marsh below the South Padre Island Convention Center boardwalk on yesterday. They either move slowly or just stand in place until they rapidly thrust their bills at some prey. Though they are a pretty chestnut below and green or blue above with orange legs they blend in well with their habitat. The pic below is a 4 X view (220mm) of the bird above that was taken at 25X (600mm) view then cropped to this very close up view. SeEtta