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.)