Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing

A male Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) singing in a flowering Kanzan (or Kwanzan) Cherry tree during a spring day.

male spotted towhee in cherry blossoms tree

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) Singing in a Flowering Cherry Tree (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   One of the more elusive bird species found in my backyard is the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus). They are easy to find, and are around frequently, but are also rather shy and tend to forage on the ground, scratching beneath shrubs, trees, and vines. It seems that they are easier to photograph in the spring – perhaps building nests and finding mates requires a bit more boldness than usual. Both of these male Spotted Towhees were fairly easy to photograph as they sat higher up in the trees than they would normally be found. The first photo here shows a male singing (in the rain) up in a flowering cherry tree in full bloom (Kanzan or Kwanzan variety). The second Towhee is a bit more cautious and seems to be feeling a bit vulnerable in a relatively open area of the forest.

male spotted towhee

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) looking cautious (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   When I was learning about local birds many years ago this Spotted Towhee species was referred to as the “Rufous sided Towhee”. The Spotted Towhee and the similar Eastern Towhee were once considered the same species (and probably were, long ago), but now are known to be separate. One male Spotted Towhee in my neighborhood seems to love to stand on window ledges and jump up and attack his reflection. This results in noise that causes the dog to bark, and the smearing of bird poop all over the windows. He has since expanded this behaviour to my car’s side view mirrors with similar, messy results. It could be worse though, my neighbor reports that one attacks their bedroom window at dawn (likely the same bird). At least he is letting me sleep!

For more of my bird photographs visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

Dark-eyed Junco Nest With Eggs

Dark-eyed Junco nest (Junco hyemalis) with eggs in a ground level nest in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada

dark eyed junco nest - junco hyemalis - eggs in a ground level nest

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) Eggs (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   In late April I was mowing the grass growing between the raised vegetable garden beds and discovered this Dark-eyed Junco nest, complete with eggs, on the ground underneath a small overhang. This is a common place for Juncos to place their nests, I’ve come across a few others on the ground in tall grass in previous years. I try not to disturb these junco nests when mowing, but I did flush out the female that was sitting on the it at the time. She did sit on the nest again about 5 minutes later, however. A week later I did take a look at the nest (from afar, at first) and the eggs were gone. We have a lot of Black Squirrels (invasive species) that love to snack on bird eggs, so that might have been the fate of this particular clutch. Crows are another likely candidate, though they are not the only other bird species that would look at these as lunch.

For more photographs of birds visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

Female Anna’s Hummingbird in the Fraser Valley

A Juvenile, Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) perched in a tree. Photographed during the summer in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

female anna's hummingbird - Calypte anna - in the fraser valley of british columbia

Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Earier this year I was able to photograph a male Calypte anna in my backyard. Once I learned the calls of these birds I was able to find them much more often. Turned out there were at least 3-4 males in my backyard at various times. I was happy to get that photograph of one sitting on a fence post in my vegetable garden (they don’t tend to sit still for long). Since then I’d been able to watch some mating display dives as well as a lot of small skirmishes over territory, but none came close enough for me to get a good photo.

   A few days ago I was walking the dog in the backyard when this hummingbird landed next to me in an Apple tree. I quickly put the dog back in the house and went back outside with my camera – and I was fortunate that the hummingbird was still around. She landed in the tree next to me and started preening which seemed like a decent indication I wasn’t considered much of a threat. I made these two photos during the 90 seconds or so she sat there, and was quite happy with how close I was and the tongue flicking I was able to photograph.

female anna's hummingbird flicking her tongue - Calypte anna - in the fraser valley of british columbia

Female Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) Flicking Her Tongue (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I had looked at a lot of photos trying to determine if this was fact a female Anna’s Hummingbird or a juvenile male. Turns out it is a juvenile female, as indicated by James Pike in the comments below. He goes into the reasons why it is a juvenile female, and clearly has a lot more experience identifying these birds than I do!

For more of my wildlife photos please visit my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.

Male Anna’s Hummingbird in the Fraser Valley

A male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) sitting on a garden post. Photographed in late winter in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada.

anna's hummingbird - Calypte anna - in the fraser valley of british columbia

Male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)

-click to enlarge-

   Almost a month ago I wrote about trying to photograph a male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in my backyard. I had noticed him sitting at the top of many of my trees singing during most afternoons first song on this page. As of today he is still up there singing away, perhaps he is having some trouble getting noticed in the Hummingbird dating scene, I’m not sure. A week or so after I posted my Black-capped Chickadee photo as a sort of hummingbird consolation prize, I was able to photograph this male in the vegetable garden.

   It is rare that I am able to spot wildlife in my backyard and still have time to get in the house and grab the camera, but this Anna’s Hummingbird is pretty predictable in the order of trees he chooses to sing his love ballads from. He is also probably used to me staring up at him by now. I first photographed him at the top of the Hazelnut where he sat for a long time. I actually found making a photo of him reasonably difficult as the magnitude of light reflection from his purple gorget (the neck/throat/head feathers) was so high it would throw off my exposure. The bottom photo here shows a happy medium between the full purple/red brightness of his gorget feathers and the rather subdued reddish/brown shown in the first image.

male anna's hummingbird - Calypte anna - in the fraser valley of british columbia

Male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in Hazelnut Tree

-click to enlarge-

   After singing at the top of the Hazelnut for a while this male headed further back into the property and sat on a Mountain Ash tree, but only for a second. He immediately took flight again and almost got right on my face. Perhaps this was a territory thing or he was just curious, I’m not sure. Either way I was glad to see him land on a metal post very near me, and posted for just 3 photos before taking off to another frequently utilized perch in a Walnut tree. The first photograph here is that image, though I’ve cheated somewhat and cropped it to nearly 100%. You can see the uncropped version here. While I would love to get a hummingbird in flight photo seeing them perched has been pretty rare for me so I am happy to have good results. You can see a cropped version of this second photograph here. Note the very small hazelnut flowers at the end of those buds – this was the first time I had noticed them.

For more bird photographs please visit my Bird Photos Gallery.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) sitting on a Rose branch in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.

black capped chickadee sitting on a rose branch

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   This is a Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) I photographed in the backyard the other day. Recently I have figured out that one bird call I’ve been hearing outside is not the usual songs from Chickadees, Juncos and other common local birds, but of a male Annas Hummingbird. I have seen it every day for the last while, and now that I’ve learned the pattern of trees it seems to use, I am trying to photograph it. Naturally it is nowhere to be found when I have my camera out, but is almost in my face when I’m out with the dog (and no camera). While trying to find it and a Golden-crowned Kinglet I’ve been seeing a lot of lately, I couldn’t resist photographing the Black-capped Chickadees and Juncos anyway. This particular Chickadee seemed even more curious than they usually are, and wasn’t afraid of sitting near me in the rose bushes. I actually had to back up at one point to make this photo as it was within the minimum focusing distance of my lens (70-200). Hoping to have the same “problem” with that Hummingbird soon. If I do I’ll be sure to post it here.

You can find more of my bird photographs in the Birds Gallery.

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) Singing

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park near Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada.

alpenglow on hope mountain by silver lake provincial park

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing near Crescent Beach (Buy Print/License)

-click to enlarge-

   I photographed this Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) singing along the boardwalk over the marsh at Elgin Heritabe Park in Surrey, BC earlier this spring. I visited this park several times to photograph the Red-winged Blackbirds and on this occasion had this Song Sparrow sit on a branch right in front of me and start singing. I was able to make several photographs, and record two videos (see below) before the inevitable foot traffic of other park visitors caused it to fly away. Still, having a sparrow land that close and start singing was a great opportunity, one that I was only able to capitalize on as I was walking around with my longer lens (70-200mm) on the camera at the time. Landscapes do not tend to catch me by surprise nearly as often as wildlife, so when walking around on trails I often have the long lens on my camera instead of my favorite landscape lens (17-55mm). This way I am not trying to change lenses in order to photograph a bird or other animal close to me which is an activity that usually results in a missed opportunity.

   The video linked below was recorded with my Canon 7D and its internal microphone which leaves a bit to be desired as it picks up all sorts of background noise. In the video you can hear the Song Sparrow singing, but you’ll also likely notice other birds singing, the flock of geese flying overhead, frogs, and the sounds of a speed boat accelerating up the nearby Nicomekl River.

song sparrow singing video

For more of my photographs of wildlife and animals please take a look at my Animals and Wildlife Gallery.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus)

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus) in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

red-winged blackbird in the marsh at elgin heritage park in surrey bc

Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelalus phoeniceus) in the marsh at Elgin Heritage Park in Crescent Beach

-click to enlarge-

   I have made a few trips to Crescent Beach’s Elgin Heritage Park recently, usually on my way to Blackie Spit. On this trip I set aside some time specifically to try to photograph Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelalus phoeniceus) in the marshes along the Nicomekl River. The males were quite active, singing and jumping from stalk to stalk in the Bulrushes. There were even some territorial squabbles where they would chase each other through the foliage like jet fighters. The females were not nearly as noticeable, though I had a few that stayed near me long enough to photograph as well. As the female Red-winged Blackbirds are drab in comparison, the males were really the more vibrant photography subject.

For more of my wildlife photographs visit the Animals and Wildlife Gallery in my Image Library.

Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus)

A Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus) walking warily near the trail to Table Mountain in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State, USA

sooty grouse dendragapus fuliginosus)

Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus) (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   Last week I made the trip up to the Mount Baker Ski area and Artist Point at the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington State, USA. First I made the obligatory stop at the iconic Picture Lake (more on that soon) to eat my soup, then I photographed some of the fall colours in the Mountain Ash and Blueberry bushes in the Heather Meadows area. After arriving at Artist Point I photographed this Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus) on the trail to Table Mountain. As with most of my wildlife photography, this was an opportunity I happened upon rather than directly seeking it out. Wildlife was not on my mind but there were 3 of these Grouse foraging near the trail. Well camouflaged, I didn’t even see them until one of them flew out of my way from the edge of the trail. I switched lenses and got ahead of their direction of travel, and they walked right past me. There are a lot of visitors here, so they are likely used to people, but it is still always better to let wildlife approach your position than the other way around.

You can view more of my wildlife photography in my image archive’s Animals & Wildlife Gallery.