Birder's Eye View

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Painted Bunting Painting (in 3:20 minutes)

Well, there it is. I attempted another "timelapse" bird picture, this time a Painted Bunting.

I don't know if it's quite as good as the first one; I encountered many obstacles yesterday trying to make this. I tried rigging the camera differently over my work area and got better lighting, but at one point I accidentally turned off the camera while it was filming.

Fortunately, I didn't lose anything I had recorded.

Over all, it took me about 2 hours to sketch and paint the picture, and another few hours to get it condensed down to 3:20 minutes. I finally finished this afternoon and added music to it.

Happy birding!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mockingbird update

I got to see the Mockingbird nest again today. The chicks are getting big really fast. They're one week old now.

The mother was bringing them insects, and she was pretty ticked off when I leaned over the nest to take pictures. I kept hearing her fluttering over head, but fortunately, I was able to get a clear photo this time.

Any time you bump the jasmine bush where the nest is, the little birds start peeping and opening their mouths. They're a lot cuter than they were last week. :-)

Happy birding!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Painting a Bunting (in 3:30 minutes)

"Use whatever talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sing the best."
- Henry Van Dyke

This afternoon, I randomly decided to try and create somewhat of a timelapse myself painting a bird picture. Once I got this idea in my head, I spent the next few hours painting, filming, editing, and uploading my movie.

After condensing the one hour film down to three and a half minutes and putting it to music, I have to admit, even I was impressed. :-)

Unfortunately, the quality isn't so good because I was filming with my digital camera, but hey, what I can say? It sure was fun!

Happy birding!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Hummingbirds

"In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence." - Robert Lynd

These pictures are from a forwarded email that several people have sent me, so I thought I'd post a few of them on the blog.

Apparently, Abigail Alfano of Pine, LA, lives in a hummingbird migration route. Wanting to hold on of the birds, she slowly got them used to her presence by standing near her feeders, and then one day, tried putting the feed in her hand.

According to her website, "Within ten minutes, they were resting in my hands, drinking. It was sheer delight for me!"

I can relate to the feeling. Last summer at a birding camp in Maine, I watched while ornithologist Scott Weidensaul banded a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird. He showed us how to take measurements, and snap the miniscule metal band onto the bird's leg.

Afterwards, he asked the camp director to choose someone to release the hummingbird. My heart skipped a beat when he pointed to me. Me? Seriously?

All I remember was that it was intensely quiet as I followed Scott up away from the small crowd of other birders. He told me to lay my hand flat and hold very still.

When he moved his hand away from mine, the tiny bird was laying there. I hardly heard the snapping of cameras, or the soft voices Oooing and Aaahing. I couldn't feel the bird in my hand, she was so light. I could see her long eyelashes, and the curved line smudged across her chest, marking that she had been sitting in a nest somewhere.

Then suddenly, her wings vibrated to life, and she took off over my shoulder. I felt her fly through a lock of my hair, and looked down at my empty palm. I couldn't help laughing; it was the most profoundly quiet, amazing few seconds I had ever experienced.

Months later (I think it was September), one of the birders who had been there sent me the picture above.

So, I have a special place in my heart for hummingbirds. What truly fascinating little creatures!

Happy birding!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

"Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we'll soon be in trouble." - Roger Tory Peterson

Just a little tribute to the planet today. I made the film below a few weeks ago for a film contest, but thought I'd post it here in light of Earth Day. Enjoy!

Happy Earth Day!

and of course,

Happy birding!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mockingbird Nest

"I'm youth, I'm joy, I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg." -J.M. Barrie

I can't believe the pictures came out blurry, but this is so cool.

About four weeks ago, I noticed a Mockingbird had built a nest in a Jasmine bush. Three weeks ago, my mom mentioned she saw eggs in the nest. Yesterday evening, the eggs were hatching!

The babies were so tiny, and quite frankly (and please excuse my irreverence here) UGLY! But in a cute sort of way. Of course. I just couldn't believe it. I've never seen newborn Mockingbirds before! This is SO cool!
So this morning when we checked the nest, the babies were covered in fluff. They're totally blurry in the above picture, but that grey stuff you see in the center of the nest are the babies.

I took a video of the babies last night when we first found them. Check it out:

video

Happy birding!!

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Photos. Just photos.

Nothing new to report so I decided to post some photos. I tried to post them yesterday, but the Blogger photo uploader wasn't working for some reason...

Anywho, the above picture is a Fish Crow that landed on the bird bath outside my window.

I was experimenting with the Black & White feature on my camera yesterday, and got some nice shots of my budgie, Tuki.
Obviously, this is not the albino one I posted about a couple months ago -- this is my 3-year-old parakeet. I've raised him since he was a baby, so he's extremely tame, talkative, friendly, and pretty much the polar-opposite of the albino. :-)


Above is a Red-shouldered Hawk that was flying over my house yesterday. There were actually four of them putting on a great display really low over the house. By the time I got the camera out though, only this one was within sight, and he was flying way up high.

Hopefully I'll get to see some year or life birds soon. It's been a while.

Happy birding!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Observations

I saw 2 Black-Hooded Parakeets today, about 3 miles from where I saw one last week. Still trying to work out whether or not they're "escapees" or if there is a local breeding population.

Not far from the parakeets, a Roseate Spoonbill flew right over the road and landed in a nearby ditch. One of my favorite local birds. Then, a few miles past that, I saw a Limpkin sitting atop a lightpole and calling out. Also saw red-shouldered hawks, various wading birds, ducks, and a Red-winged Blackbird.

But this is why I'm really posting:

What does this look like? A manicured, suburban lawn with a big ugly fence. Right? Actually, in the background, you'll see some big white birds perched within the scrub.

My mom had been telling me about this pond she always drove by, and how it was always full of birds. Interesting, I thought, but I presumed it was a migration stopover point or something. Today, she took me by the location and what I saw astounded me.

You could just barely see the pond from the main road, so we drove into the neighborhood where it was located and wound our way down the identical streets, past the cookie-cutter suburban houses, and finally found the pond. You could barely see it between the close houses, but I managed to take these shots from the car, through the side yards.

Apparently, this is some kind of preserved pond in this neighborhood, and there are HUNDREDS of Woodstorks, Anhingas, Egrets, and Herons nesting on a little island in the middle of the water. They were flying overhead, sitting on nests, and climbing around in the scrub.

There was no public access to the pond, so we may try to contact the local Audubon Society and see if they know about it or know of someone who would let us through. I have got to go back to this spot and get a better look.

Happy birding!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Snakes and catbirds and hawks! Oh my!

"The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness." - John Muir

So it's not a bird but oh well it's cool anyway. :-) This is a juvenile Banded Watersnake I saw today, after volunteering at the nature preserve. It was about 6 inches long, though it's kind of hard to tell from the picture.

Not far past the watersnake, I saw a Gray Catbird. I've already seen one this year, but surprisingly, this is the first time I've ever gotten a picture of one. They're interesting birds; not very subtle. They just sort of crash around in the palmettos and "meow" occasionally.

And lastly, a Red-Shouldered Hawk was calling loudly from a tree far back in the woods. I'm thinking it might have a nest around there somewhere; it was in the same place the hawks nested last year. So, I'll have to keep my eyes open.

Also saw some more Swallow-tailed Kites today, too. They're all over the place now.

Happy birding!

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another life bird!

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." - Frank Lloyd Wright

So I'm sitting here at my desk, trying to solve for the determinant of a 3x3 matrix in my Algebra II class. The window is open and a nice breeze is drifting through; some Tufted Titmice are calling in the distance.

Then suddenly, this loud, obnoxious grating noise makes me jump. It's really close by. I heard it a couple days ago while riding my bike, but didn't think anything of it. This is really loud, though, and almost tree frog-like.

I look out the window, scanning the bare branches of the elm tree. The only bird in sight is sitting with its back to me; it is about the size of a dove, and for a moment, I nearly dismiss it as one.

But something is different. It has brownish coloration, and its head is way bigger. I grab my binoculars and focus in on the bird. It turns slightly and I see that its head has a big crest, its belly is greyish-yellow, and its back is grey and brown.

It's calling again: reeep REEEP rrrip rrrrip. After barely 2 seconds, it takes off.

I have seen just enough though. Flipping to the section on "Tyrranidae" in my field guide, I start comparing pictures and descriptions. The only one that fits is the one I had in mind.

A Great Crested Flycatcher!

It hasn't returned to the tree, but I can still hear it calling in the distance. What a fantastic bird! Big (Relatively), loud, boastful, and certainly unexpected.

That is my year bird #74.

Happy Birding!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Peacocks and life bird

Just a quick post here to share a couple of my Peacock pictures...

A flock of 5 peacocks paraded down the street a few days ago. Unfortunately, all my pictures came out blurry (had the wrong setting on my camera...), but you can see that they are, indeed, peacocks.


There is an adult male peacock in the neighborhood somewhere, with huge long tail feathurs, but he wasn't in the group that came across my yard. Hopefully I'll get a picture of him sometime soon.

Oh! Almost forgot! I saw a life bird on monday -- A Black-Hooded Parakeet! I was in the car and stopped at a stoplight, when the parakeet flew down to the curb and starting drinking from a puddle.

All these cars were turning right next to the puddle and I was sure the bird was going to get hit. He even started walking out into the middle of the road (no one ever said they were especially smart, I guess). Finally he flew up to a powerline just before the light turned.

So I guess that brings my year list up to 73!

Happy birding

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Semi-successful Birding

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul..."
-Emily Dickenson

Well, I had high hopes for my mini birding trip today, but alas, I was not as succhessful as I had anticipated. Nonetheless, I visited two parks and saw some cool birds -- only one year bird, but I'll get to that in a moment. Can you tell what is in these two pictures? The first thing you'll probably notice is the lovely (and of course totally natural) soda bottle floating serenely in the algae. But look closer.

This is actually a picture of baby Moorhens! There were 2 adults swimming around with all the garbage and four chicks swimming standing by their nest. It was really cool to watch. You could even hear the babies cheeping very faintly.

It was unfortunate how badly the park was polluted though. My mom and Brother and I picked up trash where we could, but the place was disgusting and most trash was far out of reach.

In this picture, you can see a Fish Crow on the left side of the tree and a Blue Jay on the right side. They seemed to be cawing irritably at each other, but neither was inclined to move away.

Afterwards, we headed off to another park out of the urban area and closer to home. This was a fantastic looking tree covered in Red Lichen! I've never seen one so red before.

Red-bellied Woodpecker. Hard to get a good shot of him.

And... last but not least, my year bird: A Northern Parula! I haven't seen one of these guys in almost a year. It took probably 20 minutes or so before I finally got a good long look at it.

Considering the circumstances, I guess I'm lucky to have seen one year bird today. :-)

Happy birding!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Monk Parakeets

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song." - Maya Angelou

Parakeets. What is there to say about parakeets? They're talkative (always in some way or another), typically colorful (though not in all cases), and rather diverse in more ways than one.

Today I saw two Monk Parakeets today a few miles from home, sitting on some powerlines. Not very unusual or monumental in any way, but I can at least add them to my list.

Hmm... Wish I had more to say, but alas, there is nothing new to report on. I'm going birding tomorrow, so hopefully (fingers crossed) I'll have some uber-cool pictures to post and life birds to add to the list!

Happy birding!

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