Birds Parent | Birds: 2011 »

December 30, 2010

Backyard Birds - Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Click on the picture for a larger version Ruby-crowned Kinglet...

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December 28, 2010

Wood Duck

Click on picture for a larger version Wood Duck I took the picture at the Beus Forest Green Park in Ogden, Utah...

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November 29, 2010

Backyard Birds - Sharpie

Yesterday I was checking out the feeders and counted 10 different species of birds, and in the next moment they were all gone replaced by one, this Sharp-shinned Hawk. Click on picture for larger version Sharp-shinned Hawk...

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Backyard Birds - Mountain Chickadee

Click on picture for a larger version Mountain Chickadee...

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November 24, 2010

The Roadrunner Caught

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November 21, 2010

Dark-eyed Junco - Backyard Bird

Ten inches of snow had our power out most of the night and this morning the feeders were extra busy. The Dark-eyed Juncos were out in larger numbers than usual. Click on picture for a larger version Dark-eyed Junco...

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November 16, 2010

Snow Bunting

The picture was taken at Utah Lake State Park Click on picture for a larger version Snow Bunting...

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November 14, 2010

Backyard Birds - Red-breasted Nuthatch

Click on the picture for a larger version Red-breasted Nuthatch Actually I added two birds to my yard list today, the aforementioned Nuthatch and also a Ruby-crowned Kinglet , for which I have no picture, but he's a cute little dickens too....

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Backyard Birds - American Goldfinch

Click on the picture for a larger version. American Goldfinch I'm still new at this identification game and it is possible this is a Lesser Goldfinch, but I think the White on the tail feathers makes it American, if you're one of those birdy types who really knows his stuff, feel free to correct me. In any event the bird is, as my grandmother would say, it's cute as the dickens, or was it a cute little dickens. Betty Jo do you remember?...

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November 11, 2010

Backyard Birds - Northern Flicker

Click on picture for a larger image Northern Flicker...

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November 3, 2010

Great Horned Owl

My wife and I did a little birding at the Garr Ranch on Antelope Island today. There are a pair of Great Horned Owls there, but getting a glimpse is not easy. They blend in well and are quiet as can be. Today was different, no we didn't spot the owl but Tom was there taking some pictures and was kind enough to point one out. Click on the picture for a larger version. Great Horned Owl...

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October 19, 2010

Red-tailed Hawk

Click on the image for a larger view Red-tailed Hawk...

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October 13, 2010

Backyard Birds

How cool is that, two new birds I can include in my Backyard Birds list. Truth be told the Merlin wasn't actually in the yard, but I could see him from my yard and take his picture so I'm counting him as a Backyard Bird. Dark-eyed Junco I think this one is the "Oregon Junco" Merlin...

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October 2, 2010

Red-winged Blackbird

My wife and I spent a few hours this morning at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, where among other birds we saw hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds. Here is one of the pictures I took. Click on picture for a larger version....

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August 30, 2010

Brown-headed Cowbird

A Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird, perhaps sitting next to its foster mom, a House Sparrow. Brown-headed Cowbird The Brown-headed Cowbird is a stocky blackbird with a fascinating approach to raising its young. Females forgo building nests and instead put all their energy into producing eggs, sometimes more than three dozen a summer. These they lay in the nests of other birds, abandoning their young to foster parents, usually at the expense of at least some of the host’s own chicks. Once confined to the open grasslands of middle North America, cowbirds have surged in numbers and range as humans built towns and cleared woods....

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August 27, 2010

Yellow Warbler

It was difficult to get a picture of this Yellow Warbler, he flittered from branch to branch, never staying in one place for more than a second or two. The photo was taken during my trip to Yuma. I was near the Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park down by the Colorado River. It was about 7:00 in the evening and the temperature was still 112. I didn't stay out long, but I was dripping when I got back to the car....

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August 26, 2010

Greater Roadrunner

I spent the last couple of days in Yuma taking care of some family business, but did manage to find a couple of hours to do a little birding. I've seen the Greater Roadrunner a number of times on previous trips to Yuma, but he was always headed the other direction, my but they can run fast. They are able to fly, but with the foot speed they exhibit they are able to hunt for lizards and snakes and such on the ground. Greater Roadrunner...

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August 17, 2010

Cedar Waxwing

Click on the picture for a larger version. Cedar Waxwing...

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August 12, 2010

A New Backyard Bird

Lazuli Bunting...

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Seeds, Nuts, and Red Crossbills

I was reminded of the squirrel, when I received an email from my birder friend David. I think you'll find what he says interesting. He writes: Last weekend I spent two days camping with my lads in southern Idaho. I went up to see the newly described form of the Red crossbill, the so-called South-hills crossbills, Loxia (curvirostra) sinesciuris, which is found only in two mountain ranges south and southeast of Twin Falls. The birds were easy to find, especially in the morning, and I got good views of their enlarged bills (not longer, but thicker, almost like the Parrot crossbills of Europe). They called and sang all around us, delightful even over the roar of the seemingly hundreds of ATVs there. Note that the photo found on most websites of this (sub)species shows a white patch behind the eye, which is NOT characteristic of the (sub)species, but is an anomaly of the one photographed individual bird. South Hills crossbills have become more differentiated than most other Red crossbill types in North America, and are excellent candidates for splitting out (though the AOU rejected splitting them this spring on a technicality). You might want to check out the fascinating story of the South Hills Crossbill, which has recently been discovered in southern Idaho. To sum it up, Lodgepole pines are generally locked in an evolutionary arms race with Red squirrels (the very critters at your feeder), so they have evolved round cones that are hard for squirrels to bite down on (try biting on a tennis ball). However, in two low mountain ranges in southern Idaho (the Albion Mts and the South Hills), the squirrels are not present. So the Lodgepole pines there don't have to "worry" about their seeds being eaten by adorable varmints and have no selection toward round, ball-like cones. But Red crossbills, a "species" (probably many species actually, they are finding) found in the coniferous forests of North America and Eurasia, are highly nomadic and sometimes pass through the area. So THEY became the main consumer of Lodgepole pine seeds and thus created a different evolutionary pressure on that species. A new variety of pine thus evolved, altered by natural selection to have armored seeds in a manner that crossbills find difficult. It turns out, crossbills have bills very attuned to particular types of cones (Douglas fir, Montezuma pine, other pines, different firs & spruces...) and because the shape of the bill is so critical to obtaining food, the different varieties of crossbills don't seem to interbreed (thus the Red crossbill may actually represent up to 10 "cryptic" species in North America alone, hiding in plain sight. So, back to the South Hills: With the new types of cones, a new niche opened up for the crossbills passing through that area (types 2, 4, and 5, I believe), and some began to evolve larger bills to access the new, more elongated but armored cones found in these mountains. They became resident (since they became best fitted to these particular pines) and the new arms race was on. Now, both the crossbills and the pines are separate subspecies (at least). So, now a new issue arises: Global Warming. It turns out that Lodgepole pines have evolved to take advantage of the nutrient bonanza and open sunshine created by forest fires. Their cones remain shut to hold onto the seeds locked within until the intense heat of a forest fire opens them up to release the seeds to start a new generation, phoenix-like, in the sun-lit ash. Some cones remain shut for over twenty years, it seems. Because the new cones are so tough to open, the South Hills crossbills are forced to eat seeds from cones which are several years old, after they start loosening enough to be pried open and after a nasty layer of protective resin has worn off. A researcher I had the happy fortune to encounter there last weekend (the patiently informative Julie Hart, who was a delight), said the crossbills generally go after the cones that are seven years old. However, with global warming, the cones are opening sooner, before the resin has worn off, and thus often dropping the seeds before the crossbills can get to them. It may not be entirely coincidental that the crossbill population has crashed in recent years (though bird populations relying on a specialized food source often fluctuate in cycles naturally--think snowy owls and lemmings). Some researchers have also predicted that the unique subspecies of Lodgepole pines, and the associated ecosystem, found in southern Idaho may become extinct by the end of this century (though I myself, with no credentials to back me up, find it improbable unless things get really bad--the pines appeared to be found over several hundred feet of altitude). It would be tragic if this dance, which has shaped two species into unique forms found nowhere else in the world, were to come to an untimely end because of some apes' unwillingness to change their lifestyles just a wee bit. Isn't that a fascinating series of cause-and-effects? It's amazing the sorts of complex dramas that act themselves out before our unseeing eyes. Everything is so inter-related. What a planet! The best place to see these birds is the Diamondfield Jack Recreation Area right on the main road into the South Hills. Conveniently, that is a campground with bathrooms....

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August 9, 2010

Links With Your Coffee - Monday

I haven't posted many bird pictures lately so I'll sneak this one in, it's a Franklin's Gull (click on picture for a larger version) The Bananas Hubbub I love bananas. They are probably the most common fruit that I eat. Which is partly why I was intrigued when I learned that the cultivar of banana that I have known my entire life, the Cavendish, is an inferior variety to the banana that became popular in the first half of the 20th century, the Gros Michel. This is a story of cultivation, economics, infection, and genetic engineering – with a promising update at the end. But let’s start with a little history. Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 (tip to Patrick) Professor Newt's Distorted History Lesson(tipto Oz) Cardinal Keith O' Brien: We must seek justice rather than vengeance(tip to Pedantsareus) Since 1976, 1,221 people have been executed in the US. Its execution rate is only outdone by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and China....

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July 27, 2010

A Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

I got closer this time. The last time I saw a Cooper's it was quite far away and the picture I posted suffered. I found this one in my own backyard. I watched him for at least a half-hour and got within ten feet of him several times. He didn't seem to mind being photographed, and so I shot pictures until my shutter shuddered. I watched him as he watched nearby birds, but he didn't go after any while I was watching. Maybe he had his eye on our Maltese who was on the deck barking at him, though I'm told the Hawk is partial to other birds and I have nothing to worry about. click on picture for larger version Cooper's Hawk...

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July 25, 2010

Happy Birdday

I'm feeling a year older today, and so I'm taking it off. Here's a picture of a Black-chinned Hummingbird I took a couple of days ago. I'll be back tomorrow....

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July 22, 2010

It's Not an Oriole

Walter the Birdnerd told me half an orange was a good way to attract Orioles. I tried it, but didn't get the result I expected....

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July 17, 2010

Northern Flickers

Hey, there are birds in my front yard too. I'm accustomed to Robins digging in the front lawn for worms, but this is the first time I've seen this pair. I believe them to be Red-Shafted Northern Flickers. Those with more knowledge than I have believe the male is a hybrid Northern red-shafted Flicker and a Northern yellow-shafted Flicker Northern Flicker...

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July 13, 2010

American Goldfinch

We put a nyjer seed feeder up a while ago in hope of attracting an American Goldfinch, and it wasn't long before we saw a number of new visitors at the feeder, but alas they were not the American but Lesser Goldfinch, and they came in great numbers. I took a walk today, camera in hand, along the Jordan River Parkway, and was lucky enough to spot the elusive (at least to me) American Goldfinch....

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July 12, 2010

Eyes Like a Hawk

I wish I had eyes like a hawk, but when you hear the story you'll know that I don't and that my memory is also suspect. When I took the picture of the Cooper's I posted the other day I shot a lot of pictures trying to get a decent shot, and as you may have noticed the Cooper's kept its distance. I also took the pictures below, and sent them to some experts on the Utah Birdtalk list to confirm that my identification was correct. I was surprised to learn that there were two different hawks in my pictures, the Cooper's I posted before and these, all pictures of a Swainson's Hawk. My first reaction was that they had to be wrong, after all the timestamps on the pictures were all within a couple of minutes of each other. I was sure I'd followed the hawk from branch to branch and when he flew away I witnessed that too. But being the cautious sort I went back to check my photos and discovered that right after I shot the Cooper's I took a picture of some ordinary looking bird on a nearby tree. So it was possible that the Swainson's had replaced him, but I didn't believe it. I wrote to the person who first made the identification and asked if she was absolutely sure. She said she was particularly since another member on the list a Jerry Ligouri agreed with her identification. I might have still have had some doubts, but she sent me the above link. What can I say, my eyesight, and memory need some fine tuning if I expect to get better at the tricky business of identifying birds. Oh and Jerry says what we have here "is a sub-adult Swainson's acquiring it's full adult plumage. How cool is that? Swainson's Hawk

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July 10, 2010

Juvenile Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk...

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July 9, 2010


A Barn Swallow with its young at the visitor center at Antelope Island State Park This picture of some Cliff Swallows was taken on the South shore of the Great Salt Lake at the Saltair Pavillion....

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July 6, 2010

Birds, Birds, and More Birds

I haven't had any new birds at my feeders for a while and so I ventured away from home in search of something new. Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake are home to a number of different species of birds. Here are a couple of regular summer visitors I spotted along the causeway to Antelope Island, an American Avocet, and the Black-necked Stilt...

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July 4, 2010

4th of July Visitors

My sister lives across the street from Liberty Park home to Tracy Aviary which explains how these out of town visitors arrived at her front door today....

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July 1, 2010

New Backyard Visitors

I put up a couple of suet feeders in the expectation of attracting a woodpecker. For the first thirty days all it got me was more European Starlings with bad table manners. But then yesterday it all changed. I walked out into the backyard with the intention of taking some more pictures of the hummingbird, but then I happened to glance over at the suet feeder I saw this pair. (update: The female showed up today so now you have the whole family) I've been reading some stories about the bizarre behavior of birders and laughed, but then I realized my heart was racing and I was having trouble holding the camera still. I was excited, not just oh how nice, but wow nice. I'm pretty sure these are Downy, not Hairy Woodpeckers, but being new to this birding thing I'm not positive. I sent pictures to the bird guys I know, but alas they have not responded. Click on pictures for a larger version Downy WoodPecker...

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June 29, 2010

Black-chinned Hummingbird

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June 26, 2010

A Lovely Couple

A lovely pair of Black-headed Grosbeaks...

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Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee Large...

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June 24, 2010

House Finch

House Finch...

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June 23, 2010

The American Robin

The American Robin...

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Bullock's Oriole

I had my BirdCam set to monitor the hummingbird feeder and when I download the pictures last night I was surprised to see the Oriole. I understand that they are sugar junkies, and love the sweets. Walter the BirdNerd says when he was a kid, he used to cut oranges in half, and nail the half (fruit side up) to a post to attract Baltimore and Orchard Orioles. Birders are generous with their time and expertise. Another birder, David, has also been kind enough to help me with identifications. In regard to the Bullock he writes: This is a Bullock's oriole, relative of our meadowlarks and blackbirds (not to be confused with the European blackbird which is related to our Robin, not to be confused with the European robin for which it was named but which is related to the old world chats, which are not related to our own chats, and so on). The Bullock's oriole (a genus named after the unrelated Old World orioles--sigh) belongs to the family Icteridae, and used to be lumped with the Baltimore oriole of the East, due to some unfortunate sexual indiscretions, as the Northern oriole (see older field guides) before more sensible people realized the libertine fornications of a few individuals should not demote an entire species. I hope that is clear now. Good to know about the sexual proclivities of the Bullock's oriole. I had a brief fling with birding back around 1990 and have a couple of field guides from that time. They made a serious point about how it was now the Northern oriole. I'm with David. I too am happy sensible folk stood up for the species....

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June 22, 2010

Black-headed Grosbeak

I'm checking out a photo hosting site that Andy recommended. What do you think of the quality ?...

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June 15, 2010

Standing Tall

An Immature European Starling posing for the camera. I earlier misidentified it as a House finch, thanks to David for pointing out the error. Click on the picture for a higher resolution photo. Picture taken with my BirdCam...

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June 9, 2010

The Face-Off

How about that, a Juvenile European Starling stands its ground against the much larger Western Scrub-Jay, place your bets. Click on the picture for a larger version of the photo. Seriously, click on it. Picture taken with my BirdCam...

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June 8, 2010

European Starling With Chick

This European Starling spent the day feeding suet from the feeder to its chick....

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June 4, 2010

Black-chinned Hummingbirds

I finally figured out how to get a decent shot of the hummingbirds that visit. I moved their feeder farther from the other feeders, they are a little shy around other birds, and fine-tuned the birdcam settings. This is the Black-chinned Hummingbird. Pictures taken with my BirdCam Thanks to Walter the BirdNerd for help with the identification....

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June 3, 2010

Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a frequent visitor to the feeder but never stays long. He's a solitary little fellow, just a tip of his cap and he's gone. Picture taken with my BirdCam One good move reader Mark Sparrow has some up close experience with the Chickadee...

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June 2, 2010

Black-billed Magpie

This Black-billed Magpie has been showing up for the last couple of days. He was nowhere near the feeder, and so I was fortunate that my son saw him, grabbed a camera, and got this shot. Moments later the magpie was chased off by a very intense American Robin. The BirdNerd named Walter who has been helping me identify some of the birds I've posted tells me it is likely that the Robin has a nest nearby, since the smaller Robin would normally never attack a bird of this size....

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June 1, 2010

Lesser Goldfinch

These little darlings, are I believe, the Lesser Goldfinch and boy do they love thistle seeds. I've seen eight of them feeding at once. Picture taken with my BirdCam (Thanks again Walter)...

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American Robin

I was trying to get a picture of a hummingbird when this American Robin dropped by for a closeup. Picture taken with my BirdCam...

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May 31, 2010

The House Sparrow

The House Sparrow is one of most hated birds in America, but how can you hate such a good-looking little guy. The real champ has to be the European Starling, every time I see one I'm tempted to ask him for his papers. Pictures taken with my BirdCam...

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May 30, 2010

The Watchamacallits Return

They have returned, not as the Orioles I believed them to be, but as Black-headed Grosbeaks Black-headed Grosbeak - Male Black-headed Grosbeak - Female Pictures taken with my BirdCam (thanks Walter)...

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May 29, 2010

Stupid Bird

A recent and frequent visitor to the bird feeder. If I ever quit feeding the birds it will because of this one's insaitable appetite and the constant who-whoing. Mourning Dove (so says Walter)...

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May 28, 2010

Links With Your Coffee - Friday

Weekly Ezine for Democrats Eat bacteria to boost brain power Precautionary Principles and the Cost of Caution Cold Stone shake is the worst drink in America, equal to eating 68 pieces of bacon, study says Existentialist Firefighter Delays 3 Deaths Why do libertarians deny climate change? Judging but not judgmental Today's BirdCam Western Scrub-Jay (thanks Rob)...

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May 26, 2010


It's my new BirdCam doing it's thing. Now if that pair of whatchamacallits, the one's with the black and white wings and orange breasts that were here last week before the camera arrived will just come back I'll be happy. I guess I need to study up a bit so I can get past the, hey look at that one, isn't it pretty phase, and put names to the faces. Wingscapes WSCA03 Audubon BirdCam...

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