- Animals/Birds of the Badlands, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks 2016
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- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2014
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- Animals of Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands 2012
- Yellowstone/Tetons/Badlands Landscapes 2012
- Animals of Yellowstone 2011
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- Yellowstone/Tetons Landscapes 2011
- Yellowstone Textures
- Custer State Park, SD
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I call them Winter birds, because Pine Siskins usually spend their summers much farther north, and occasionally show up in our backyard for part of the Winter. Yesterday I counted 53, but I'm sure that number was low, because there were many in the trees and bushes that I didn't count (it helps to have lots of feeders out).They are about the size of a Goldfinch, with a very streaked breast and pointed bill. They eat copious amounts of thistle seed and black-oil sunflower seeds and don't seem to care if they go up the feeder or down the feeder, as long as they get to the seed.
A short video of Baltimore Orioles and Scarlet Tanagers at the back-yard bird feeder. Video with a remote-controlled GoPro about 10" from the bird feeder.
A few of the Spring birds in the backyard recently. Two Scarlet Tanagers (one shown here), a dozen or more Baltimore Orioles, almost as many Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, at least 18 American Goldfinches American Robins, White-throated Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Blue Jays, Harris' Sparrows, ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and many more. It is fun watching them, (and refilling the feeders).
When I am out photographing birds, wildlife and landscapes I occasionally shoot some video at the same time. Here is a little video sampler of some of our photo adventures over the past few years. The still photos can be found throughout this web site.
I gave in. I finally decided to post some pictures on Facebook also. Go to my Facebook page then click the Like or Follow button and you can stay updated on some of my photo adventures. Of course you will need to log in to Facebook to see them. -
A Scarlet Tanager in the back yard. Wow. Tuesday I went for a birding hike with the Webelos at the Nature Center and we saw a bright red Scarlet Tanager near the old brewery. I don't recall if I have seen one there previously. It was a thrill for all to see but I didn't get a picture. Wednesday morning I got up to see what new birds might be in the back yard. There were eight Baltimore Orioles at the feeders and in among them was an orange variant Scarlet Tanager. A first for my back yard. The past two days I have also had Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Goldfinches, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, White-crowned Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Harris' Sparrows, a pair of Cardinals, Mourning Doves, and another thrill to see both an Orchard Oriole and an immature male Orchard Oriole (they look quite different), and more.
Click the images to see larger.
The Bloodroot blooms popped open on Saturday during a small window of sunshine between the storms. When the wildflowers start blooming is usually about the time that the migratory spring birds start arrive. Today I saw at least a dozen Rudy-crowned Kinglets a White-throated Sparrow, Brown Thrasher and Yellow-Rumped Warbler. I crept around the edge of the fence row and got a few pictures. I'm waiting patiently for more birds to stop in our backyard on their journey north.
The migrating Ruby-throated Hummingbirds showed up at the feeders just before Labor Day. The adult males at first and later the females and/or immature males. It's been a busy time of the year for me, so I didn't get out to take pictures of the males but I get a few shots of the females one day a couple of weeks ago. These were taking on a sunny day, no flash and a 1/2000th of a second shutter speed.
See more hummingbirds and other birds in my backyard.
Sunday I went for a drive. I wanted to check on an Eagles nest a bit north of here, and I knew the light would be the best in the morning. I was pleased to find at least two Eaglets in the nest. I was in the car viewing the nest in the tree, so it was a bit hard to tell, but I did see the two in the picture below. The adult male had just brought lunch and then went stand guard in a nearby tree. As I was leaving I spotted 13 Cormorants on the river. The next stop was to look for a Barred Owl that I had heard several times, but hadn't gotten a picture. After a bit of a search in the woods I did find it and he posed nicely for me. In the same vicinity I saw Hermit Thrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Mallards and three White-tailed Deer.
Next, back to the back yard. The sun had come around to the deck and there was nice lighting on the birds near the feeders. Red-bellied Woodpeckers, White-Throated Sparrows, House Finches, Purple Finches, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Nuthatches, House Sparrows, Mourning Doves and two male Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks had just arrived. It was a busy day at the bird feeders.
[You can click any of the pictures here to see a larger image.]
Spring is coming slowly to our part of the country. More snow is in the forecast, yet the grass is starting to green, the early spring flowers are blooming and the migratory birds are passing through in waves. I haven't seen any Redpolls at our feeders this winter, despite reports from several others in the area who have had Redpolls all or part of the winter. Then, last Monday I saw the first one. It stayed around for much of the week and then disappeared as abruptly as it came.
A Fox Sparrow showed up for a couple of days also. A curious little bird. It perched in the lilac bush next to the deck for a few minutes - long enough for me to snap only two pictures before returning to forging under the feeders. It would hop forward with both feet and quickly hop backwards again, dragging both feet on the ground to scrape away the top layer to expose a seed underneath. He did this repeatedly for hours, working on the ground under the feeders, but I never saw him feeding at any of the feeders. I wonder if this is normal foraging behavior for this bird species?
The Hermit Thrush was at a local state park and seems to always be one of the early spring birds, graciously allowing me to take a few photos.
Click the images to see a larger image or view more backyard birds here.
Coopers Hawk (click for larger image)
You should have seen the birds scatter as an uninvited guest charged through the bird feeders. I saw the Coopers Hawk out of the corner of my eye as it streaked down to the deck area where we have several bird feeders. It looked like a small plane trying to make a cross-wind landing as it rotated its wings from left to right to check its speed and maneuver to the flock of feeding birds. As it raced across the deck it had turned with its belly facing the windows and wing tips nearly vertical from top to bottom and the tail fanned out twisting left to right. I could clearly see the speckling of the belly and underside of the wings as it zoomed by the windows. Talons outstretched, it shot in to an adjacent Crab Apple tree all the while twisting and rotating to avoid hitting a branch as it reached for a perching sparrow or House Finch. He missed. The birds scattered everywhere. The Coopers Hawk flew up into a large apple tree to survey the situation, head and eyes scanning constantly looking for another target. There wasn't another small bird in sight. Fortunately he sat there for about half and hour and I was able to get some photos, even though it was a bit far for my lens. You can see more Raptors here.
The backyard has been alive with birds this winter. (I hate to think how much I have spent on bird seed.) The regulars have included House Finches, a pair of Cardinals, Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Juncos, Blue Jays and of course, hundreds of House Sparrows. We had a flock of Red-wing Black Birds show up a few days ago and one Rusty Blackbird. You can see more Backyard Birds here.
Juvenile Red Tailed [or Cooper's?] Hawk
[Update: I have recently learned that this may be a Cooper's Hawk]
I was just leaving for work Friday morning when I glanced out the backyard windows at the bird feeder next to the deck and saw this juvenile Red Tailed Hawk sitting on top of one of the bird feeders - just watching all of the little birds fly by. He let me take pictures for over half an hour. What fun to see it so close. They are usually hard to get near in the wild. He is balancing here on one leg, but there were definitely two sets of talons.
It was a pretty good day. Temperature in the teens and a sunny blue sky. It has been quiet at the bird feeders this week - not much bird seed eaten. The Cardinals have been around on occasion, but today, in the bright sun I saw both of them, flitting around the trees by the feeders. The male would not let the female sit for ten seconds as he chased her all over the yard, from tree to tree, to the feeders and back to the trees. She didn't have much interest in being close to him today. It was tough getting a picture, because neither bird sat still for too long. I had to compose and focus fast. We had a pair nesting last summer. I hope these two stick around. [See more backyard birds]
Just a few notes about my photos. See more on Facebook.