Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cooper's Hawk

A few days ago, we had a snow day off from work. I took the opportunity to watch our backyard feeders for any photo-op, after filling them - mostly because of the blanket of snow making it more difficult for birds to find their own food. Sparrows, Starlings, and White-Winged Doves visited throughout the day. They would all gather to eat, then all fly off into a nearby bush, then back to the feeders again. At one point, they all made a panicked exit and just disappeared. A few seconds later, this beautiful raptor showed up and lit on the fence near one of the feeders.

Cooper's Hawk
The Cooper's will watch from a nearby location in the vicinity of bird feeders. On the menu for them are smaller birds such as sparrows. This one didn't get a meal this time, but he was nice enough to pose for me for a few minutes.

Cooper's Hawk
 He also made a fly-by as he departed for other opportunities, allowing me to get a clear view of his underside.

Cooper's Hawk
The Cooper's can be found here in the panhandle all year 'round.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Blue Heron

On 4 October 2014, this Blue Heron was gracefully winging its way back and forth across Lake Theo at Caprock Canyons State Park near Quitaque, TX. They are a very patient "stand-and-wait" predator, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to swim by. They'll eat fish, snakes, amphibians, and rodents, but I never did get to see him hunting. As you see here, they fly with their necks folded back over their shoulders with their legs extended behind them. The Blue Heron is quite common here in the panhandle.

Blue Heron

Orange Crowned Warbler

I photographed this Orange Crowned Warbler on 28 September 2014 in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Not brilliantly colored, these cute little birds forage in dense, low brush. They will even visit backyard feeders for suet, peanut butter, and sugar water. Their Orange Crown streak is rarely seen, so I consider myself lucky to see a bit of it in these photos. It has a thin, sharply-pointed bill, short wings, and a short/squared tail.
 
Orange Crowned Warbler
Orange Crowned Warbler
Orange Crowned Warbler and "Peeping Tom".

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Glossy Ibis

I took this Glossy Ibis photo on 7 September 2014 just South of Amarillo.



It is not common here, and the panhandle is not in its migratory range. Its normal range does not extend West of the Louisiana delta region. They are normally found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and the Caribbean islands as indicated here.


They have a long downward-curved bill, and long legs typical of wading birds.

Bewick's Wren

(Taken 5 July 2014 in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.)

Bewick's Wren is a noisy, hyper little rascal. It's a medium-sized wren that holds its tail as you see here, and flicks it side-to-side as it bounces its way through the brush, and its bill curves slightly downward. Even though Bewick's Wren likes dry, brushy areas, they can be found in gardens and parks year round in the panhandle. Their diet consists of insects.

Bewick's Wren.

Barn Swallow

Taken 4 July 2014, this Barn Swallow had 3 little ones in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Its striking colors and forked tail make this swallow easy to identify. A swift, erratic flight pattern makes them difficult to photograph in flight, so I was thankful this one took a few minutes to perch now and then - and to feed its young.

The Barn Swallow feeds on the wing, catching insects in flight. They can be found in fields, parks, roadway edges, meadows, marshes and ponds here in the panhandle. They build their mud nests under eaves and bridges, or in sheds and barns.

Barn Swallow.

Barn Swallow, Nest, and Young.

Barn Swallow - Feeding Time.

Red Headed Woodpecker

The Red Headed Woodpecker (taken on 15 June 2014, Wolf Creek Park near Perryton, TX) is easily identifiable by its crimson head and bold black-and-white body. Some call it the "flying checkerboard". No other American bird has this bright red hood, so it's quite easy to identify.

The Read Headed Woodpecker will not only hammer for insects in wood like other woodpeckers, but will also catch them in flight or forage for them on the ground. They will also eat fruits, nuts, and seeds.


Red Headed Woodpecker. Tending its nest. Click for larger images.

Green Heron

This is the male Green Heron, taken in Palo Duro Canyon on 10 May 2014. This is the first one I've photographed here in the panhandle. Its body is only about 17" in length, and its neck is often retracted. Females are slightly smaller. The Green Heron is about the size of the American Crow. The panhandle is normally North of its Winter range, and West of its breeding range, but just catches its migration range. They are normally solitary and widely dispersed throughout their range.

They hunt around the clock - usually by wading, but will dive for deeper prey and then swim back to shore using its webbed feet. They eat smaller fish like minnows and sunfish, and will even eat catfish and carp. Other entrees like insects, crustaceans and amphibians are fair game, too. It will either grab or spear its prey with its sturdy bill.

Green Heron. Click for larger image.

Cedar Waxwings

I took this photo on 20 April 2014 in Caprock Canyons State Park near Quitaque, TX. No, they're not smooching. One is passing a tidbit to the other. They'll pick fruit and pass it on to others.

Cedar Waxwings. Click for larger image.
(More about Cedar Waxwings here.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

American Kestrel, Mountain Bluebird, Brown Thrasher

On Christmas Day, we headed out to see if we could snag some shots of some birds. It's been a while since we went out for that reason, so we were about due. On the way to Palo Duro Canyon, we stopped off at a couple of places to see what we could see.

Adjacent to a park at the edge of civilization, there is a field. This field seems to be a popular hunting ground for American Kestrels - the most colorful member of the falcon family. As we went along the perimeter, on an aerial TV cable we saw one patiently watching for an entree. We managed to get some decent shots before his comfort level went off scale and he left.

(American Kestrel)

(American Kestrel)
These little falcons are about the size of a blue jay. Click on the label below to find out more about them.

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The Mountain Bluebird is a first for me. I've only had peripheral glimpses of them before this outing. On the ridge of Palo Duro Canyon, in the evergreen bushes, were 5 or 6 of these gorgeous birds. The panhandle appears to be in the Winter range of these little fellas. They do not nest here. They eat ants, beetles, and an assortment of other insects. They swoop down from their perches to grab whatever dish presents itself.

(Mountain Bluebird)

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The Brown Thrasher is a fairly timid little guy, and will dart in and out of the brush - much like the Spotted Towhee. Like most other thrashers, the Brown prefers running or hopping to flying.

The Brown Thrasher eats insects (loves beetles), worms, grains, nuts, berries, and fruit. Its numbers are said to be declining - possibly due to the fragmentation of large, wooded habitat that it needs.

(Brown Thrasher)
-Dale


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mockingbird

When I restocked our feeders today, I disappeared and came back a little later with camera in hand. The usual sparrows were infesting the cage/cake feeder, and another feathery fellow I didn't expect.

Western Mockingbird
He stopped off at a nearby tree for a few minutes and let me take a few shots. Don't know, but he looks kind of young.

-Dale

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mississippi Kite

The time nears when the Mississippi Kites will be heading for South America. They depart in late August through late September. A few days ago, my wife and I saw a flock of 2 or 3 dozen Kites circling over a spot in town. We can only presume they are getting their flight plans in order in preparation for their migration. ;)

I don't see them as much hanging around trees in our neighborhood, but today I saw a couple soaring overhead. This one was hanging out in one of the usual trees. I have no idea if it is one of the family that occupied our tree or not. I don't think it's the little one, because I wouldn't expect him to have full adult plumage this soon - but I could be wrong.

(Mississippi Kite)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mississippi Kite

The young Mississippi Kite in our tree is out learning to hunt most of the time. He hasn't been hanging out in the tree very much lately. I don't know how many more times I'll be able to watch him. I created a montage of my images for a YouTube video for you to enjoy.

(Watching Speckles grow.)
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mississippi Kite

Yes - another Kite post. Sorry, but I love these raptors.

The little one fills the nest all by himself now. Nearly a full crop of feathers. I'm still anxiously awaiting seeing him soaring the skies. When he does, I'll feel like a proud papa.

(Mississippi Kite Nestling.)



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mississippi Kite

We recently got the dead wood cut out of the tree in our back yard. That was the tree Momma always kept watch from. She had to change to a neighbor's tree, where I think she gives me the "stink eye" from.


I'm waiting to see this little guy trying out his wings. Hopefully, I can catch his first attempts.

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