Sunday, December 30, 2007

Crex Meadows

My father and I drove up to Crex Meadows this past Friday on a bit of a whim. It's a pretty slow time of year for birds right now, but we wanted to get out. Well it ended up not amounting to much, I never even took a photo. We did see 3 Northern Shrikes, and 4 Rough-legged Hawks. The part that was so strange to me (and my father) was that there was a so little wildlife activity. We never saw a Chickadee, no deer, not even a squirrel. It was just weird. Anyway, it was nice to get out, even though we didn't get to see much. I hope you have all had good holidays.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Carlos Avery Continued . . .

There were a lot of Common Redpolls flitting about yesterday, but I never really got a good shot of an individual bird. So here is a flock shot that I thought was probably the best shot of these birds for the day. Next time, hopefully I'll be in a better position to take a nicer shot.

Common Redpolls:
Common Redpolls

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This Morning at Carlos Avery WMA

Well, I finally got out to do a little birding this morning. My Father and I headed up to Carlos Avery for a couple of hours and had a pretty good day. We spotted a Great Horned Owl (no photos though), a Pileated Woodpecker, a number of Pheasant, a flock of about 35 Common Redpolls, and 2 Northern Shrike. Overall, I would say it was a pretty good day for only a couple of hours looking.

Here's the Northern Shrike:
Northern Shrike

... and a shot of his wing ...
Northern Shrike Wing

I'll post a picture or two of the Redpolls in the next couple of days, once I get through all the photos. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Filling the feeders . . .

The last few times that I have filled my bird feeders I have had the Chickadees fly in so close to me it has actually surprised me. In fact, last week while filling my largest feeder, a Chickadee came in and landed on the feeder (about 6 inches from my hand) as I was lifting it back up to hang it. So this week I brought out a point-and-shoot camera to snap a picture of the birds while I was filling the feeders. The 2 birds are about 2-3 feet from me when I took this shot. Not a terribly great shot, but still fun!

Black-capped Chickadees:

Friday, December 07, 2007

Winter Snow

We've had a bit of snow over the last week or so and the birds have been really active at the feeders. We are consistently getting about 12-14 Goldfinch, 1 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2 White-breasted Nuthatch, and a number of woodpeckers. We've also had a number of Juncos move in as well. I've taken some photos, but with the conditions being what they are I haven't really had much success. Here you can see the blowing snow:

Goldfinches in Winter Plumage:
Winter Goldfinch

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The 2007 Audobon Watchlist

The National Audobon Society has released the 2007 Watchlist. You can visit the site and get see the list here:

2007 Audobon Watchlist

"Audubon and the America Bird Conservancy have joined forces to rally conservationists around America's most imperiled birds. WatchList 2007, a new analysis from these leading bird conservation organizations, uses the latest available research from the bird conservation community along with citizen science data from the Christmas Bird Count and the annual Breeding Bird Survey to identify 178 species in the continental U.S. and 39 in Hawaii that are in need of immediate conservation help. It is a call to action to save species fighting for survival amid a convergence of environmental challenges, including habitat loss, invasive species and global warming."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pileated Woodpecker

This morning the bird feeders were humming with activity. The Red-bellied woodpeckers were especially active. We also had the usual Chickadees, Blue-jays, and Juncos. A visitor we haven't had since the spring was a single Goldfinch in winter plumage. The feeders were getting low (the suet feeder was empty) and I was about to head out and fill them up when this Pileated Woodpecker flew in looking for a snack.

Pileated Woodpecker:
Pileated Woodpecker-1

Pileated Woodpecker:
Pileated Woodpecker

Both photos taken through the window.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Red-winged Blackbird (...from this summer)

I was going through a few photos from this summer and I found this one. This was taken at Springbrook Nature Center while I was watching a nesting Red-winged Blackbird. Anyway, I thought I'd put here since I don't have much else considering I haven't really gotten out.

Red-winged Blackbird (female)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Red-breasted Nuthatch

This little guy is a new visitor to ur yard this year. He seems to be quite content to hang around the feeders and chow down. He gets chased away by the White-breasted Nuthatches that we have in abundance, but he seems undeterred by them and just keeps coming back. I hear him practically every morning now.

Red-breasted Nuthatch:
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yard Birds

Well, since I haven't gotten out lately to photograph much of anything, I took a few minutes to shoot the birds in my yard and at the feeder. This male turkey is a regular in our yard. In fact has actually come up on our deck and attacked its own reflection in our sliding glass door.

Here he is in all his splendor

Wild Turkey

Now he's just showing off:
Wild Turkey Wings

Both of these shots are taken from in the house through a window. The second shot has a bit of the deck showing on the right side which is a bit of bummer, but ya gotta take what ya get.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Woods

The weather has not been terribly nice lately and I haven't been motivated to get out in the rain. This coupled with some changes going on at work have made for a month of little to no photography . . . let alone photographing birds. Last night it was raining and dense fog rolled into the woods.

Dark Woods

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lesser Yellowlegs

Well, I did find a new bird for me in Anoka county and at Carlos Avery on Saturday. We saw 2 Lesser Yellowlegs which was pretty cool. They are pretty noisy calling back and forth, but they stayed where they were for quite a while so we got a pretty good look at them. I was able to snap a few shots and look at them through my binoculars which is pretty unusual. Usually I just the get the opportunity to spot a bird through the camera.

Lesser Yellowlegs:
Lesser Yellowlegs

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hooded Mergansers (initially posted as Unknown Ducks)

My father and I went up to Carlos Avery on Sunday and when we saw these birds we thought we knew what they were, but upon closer inspection of the photo, I think we were wrong and now I'm not positive on the ID of these birds. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hooded Mergansers:
Unknown Duck

Thank you to all that responed to my request for help identifying these birds! I truly appreciate it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Birds & Beer?

Well, I have started brewing my own beer and I wanted to create a label for the bottles. I wanted something specific to my life as well as something that I could expand upon in the future. Owls are probably my favorite type of bird so that seemed like an obvious choice. As I brew new beers, meaning different flavors, like brown ale, cream ale, stout, etc. I will modify the label with a different picture of an owl that I have taken and different text at the bottom for the type of beer. So here is the first label that I have made for my first beer, which by the way, I have yet to try. (It will be another 2 weeks before I can drink it. It's carbonating in the bottle right now.)

Anyway, here's the first label:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Oh so many Catbirds . . .

Well I went down to the Mississippi river valley refuge (I'm sorry I don't remember the exact name) with my father the other day and pretty much struck out. However, there were so many Gray Catbirds I couldn't believe it. I hadn't seen a Catbird in Minnesota until last summer and then it was only one. This year I'm seeing them everywhere and on this occasion I couldn't believe how many there were. Anyway, here's the best photo I got that day:

Gray Catbird:
Gray Catbird

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

North Shore Warbers . . . Again?

Yes, I have one more shot from the North Shore that I would like to share. It seems like every year that I go to the North Shore I see Black-throated Green warblers and this year was no exception. I always enjoy seeing these guys.

Black-throated Green Warbler:
Black-throated Green Warbler Eating

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

North Shore Hummingbirds

Well these little birds were quite active at the feeder on the deck as well as on the wildflowers around the cabin. Getting a shot of these birds is quite difficult to do as I'm sure you can imagine. I wanted to get a shot of the bird on the flower not on the feeder so I was even less successful, but I did get this shot and I was pleaseed with it since it is definitely my best shot of a hummer on a wildflower.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird:
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Seagull Shot

I thought this shot of the Herring Gull turned out quite nice as well . . .

Seagull head

Monday, August 27, 2007

More North Shore

I was sitting on the deck watching the seagulls pass by and decided to grab the camera, sit on the rocks and take a few shots. I think they turned out pretty cool!

Ring-billed Seagull-3

Ring-billed Seagull-1

Ring-billed Seagull-2

As always, there are bigger versions of these photos posted a flickr. Just click on one to go see the larger version.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

North Shore Warblers Continued . . .

There were a number of Black-and-White warblers around and let me tell you, they are very difficult to photograph. I have so many shots of this that are blurred I can't believe it. Even when the stop jumping around they continue to move their head. Blur was the name of the game with these guys. So with as difficult as they are to get, I was pretty happy with this shot:

Black-and-White Warbler:
Black and White Warbler

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

North Shore Warblers

OK, so it's been a long time between posts and I was getting good-natured heckling by a friend in Palo Alto to update the blog(you definitely know who you are).
So, two weekends ago I went up to the North Shore of Lake Superior and had a very nice time with family and saw some really great warblers. We saw Tennessee, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Mourning, and even a Northern Parula. The warblers were quite abundant even around the cabin we were staying in which meant we really didn't even need to go and find them. In fact the one time that we did drive to a known good birding area, we got completely blanked. Upon returning from this little excursion there were about 20 or so warblers in the trees above the deck on the cabin. The irony was not lost on us. Either way we did have a great time and I'll be posting some of the photos from that trip over the next week or so.

Here's the Chestnut-sided Warbler:
Chestnut-sided Warbler

Tennessee Warbler (it's a bit out of focus):
Tennessee Warbler

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hunting Success!

Well here's another post on the Barred Owls in our yard. Tonight we witnessed two of the immature owls fighting over a kill. They were right out in front of the house on the ground yelling at each other. I grabbed my camera and ran out onto the deck only to discover that I didn't have the CF card in my camera! So I ran back into the house, grabbed the card and dashed back outside only to find that the owls had moved off to the side of the house and into the woods. I moved that way slowly and into the woods. They were so distracted with each other that I didn't even warrant a look until I got in closer. As soon as he turned to look at me I stopped and took the following shots. The shots show what looks to be a rabbit.

This shows the owl with its wings covering what appears to be a rabbit:
Barred Owl (1 of 4)

Here the owl was moving up the limb of the tree and you can clearly see the rabbit:
Barred Owl (2 of 4)

Another photo of the owl and its prey:
Barred Owl (3 of 4)

I snapped this photo of the owl flying away, not the greatest shot but I thought it was worth posting:
Barred Owl (4 of 4)

All of the shots were taken at a high ISO in the woods so they are a bit noisy and not terribly in focus, but it sure was fun to witness this exchange.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Another Back Yard Visitor

Well, this littel guy has been hanging out around the feeders the last few days or so. He's pretty territorial! When he's staged on the branches near the feeder anytime another bird flys in he gives chase. This includes the Downy Woodpeckers and the White-breasted Nuthatches that are constantly on our suet log. I got a shot of him this morning while he was guarding "his" feeder. :)

Eastern Wood Pewee:
Eastern Wood Pewee

Friday, July 13, 2007

More Yard Birds

Well I've been on the couch for about a week now with Bronchitis. It's really not as much fun as it sounds. ;) Anyway, I sat out on the deck today for about an hour and watched the bird feeders. It was about all I could manage. We've had a pair of immature Red-bellied woodpeckers in our yard for the past few weeks. I took a shot of this one today. The other is actually beginning to show a bit of red on it's head. It's not that great of shot since it was in the shade and at high ISO. Anyway, here ya go . . .

Immature Red-bellied Woodpecker:
Immature Red-bellied

I took this shot yesterday through the window and it shows about 1/3 of the Turkeys that were actually under the feeders.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Nictating Membrane

I was going back through some of my photos of the Sandhill Cranes I took at the end of June and I came across this photo of a crane that clearly shows the nictating membrane on the birds eye. I thought it was really interesting to see this, my wife thought it was a bit creepy. :)

Happy 4th of July to All!

Sandhill Crane (It's easier to see in the larger version of the photo. Click on it to see a larger version on Flickr.):
Sandhill Crane Eye

Friday, June 29, 2007

Barred Owls Hunting!

OK, so my wife and I just spent the last 20 minutes watching the 3 immature Barred Owls attempt to catch a squirrel that was feeding on the ground under our bird feeders. At first the squirrel seemed to pay no attention to the one owl that was about 12 feet off the ground and right next to our deck (about 20 feet from the squirrel). We watched the owl watch the squirrel. Eventually the owl swooped out of the tree and down after the squirrel. He missed. Then he tried again from a different spot. Then the second owl made his attempt and also missed. By this point the third owl is in the mix and they attempted to "corner" the squirrel on the tree. Honestly they never really got that close with the exception of the very first attempt. You can tell they are still a bit awkward in flight compared to the adults, but they were trying their best. :)

We were watching these owls learn how to hunt! How cool is that?!

Right after all three attempted to corner the squirrel the each in turn landed on a downed tree on the ground. I just took these shots a few minutes ago. They are both taken at ISO 3200/f5.6 and 1/30 of second hand-held. They are heavily cropped, pretty noisy, and definitely blurry. However, this was a really cool moment for both my wife and I and it's worth sharing here. I hope you all enjoy it as well.

The Three:
Barred Owl Three

The Two:
Barred Owl Two

Here's another shot I took this morning:
Barred Owl - Owlets

Thursday, June 28, 2007

American Redstart

Well I had a bit of time today so I made run to Carlos Avery and to be honest, didn't have that great of a day. The highlight though was a pair of American Redstarts that I was able to spend quite a bit of time with. They sure do flit around a lot though making for some tough photos. Here is one of the shots that I got.

American Redstart:
American Redstart

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yard Birds

Well, we have had a number of new birds in our yard over the last couple weeks. We have had an Indigo Bunting show up 3 times which has been quite a treat and we have also had a Three-toed Woodpecker. We get a lot of woodpeckers on the suet log and when he showed up, we weren't sure what it was. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera for either of these birds. However, I did get some shots of 2 of the 3 Barred Owl owlets:

Barred Owl:
Barred Owl Owlets

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cranes and Warblers

Last week I went to Carlos Avery with my Mother and Father for about 3 hours. We saw quite a few birds and had a really nice time. My father got to see his first Common Yellowthroat which was pretty cool. There were quite a few Yellow Warblers, a Catbird, and a pair of Sandhill Cranes that were the closest I have ever had to my car at Carlos Avery. We were driving down the road and I spotted just the head of a crane sticking out of the tall grass about 15 feet off the road. We stopped and he stayed. I expected the brid to just walk off like they normally do but I was able to pop my head out of the sun roof of the car and take quite a few shots. I liked this one in particular:

Sandhill Crane:
Sandhill Crane Headshot

The Yellow warblers were quite cooperative and I took this shot which I liked because of it's bright color in the photo. Generally when I take shots I like to fill the frame with the bird, but in this instance I liked the overall look with a wider angle. I think it helps to see the photo larger so click on it and you can see a larger size on Flickr.

Yellow Warbler:
Yellow Warbler

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tree Swallows

OK, since it's been a while I thought I would add another post and photo. I watched this Tree Swallow fly in and out of the holes on this tree for about 15 minutes. It would have food in it's mouth when it went in and none when it came back out. It's hard to be 100% positive because I couldn't hear or see young, but I would bet this was a Tree Swallow on the nest. Either way, it was pretty cool to watch.

Tree Swallow:
Tree Swallow on Nest

Green Heron

So it's been way to long since my last post. I've been getting out now and then to bird and take photos, but just haven't had a lot of time to get through all the photos and pull a few out for the blog. I should be posting on more regular basis again with photos from the last few weeks. Anyway, I took this photo of a Green Heron about 2 weeks ago up at Carlos Avery.

Green Heron:
Green Heron

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Today at Carlos Avery

Well today was a pretty good day at Carlos Avery. It started out with a pair of Scarlet Tanagers, a number of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a few of Common Yellowthroat and a single Baltimore Oriole. I also had a great view of an Eastern Kingbird. Here's some pictures from today.

Eastern Kingbird:
Eastern Kingbird

Rose-breasted Grosbeak:
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

I have a pretty good guess of what this bird is but I sure would appreciate a few more opinions:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A new Yard Bird!

Well, we had a Swainsons Thrush, Redstarts, YR Warblers, and what I initially thought was a Hermit Thrush in the yard this weekend. What I had incorrectly ID'd as a Hermit Thrush (a guess in the field since I still haven't seen one of these), is actually an Ovenbird. A new lifer for me!


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Scarlet Tanager and Warblers

We had a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers and this Scarlet Tanager move through the yard this morning. I was lucky enough to be able to run back in the house, grab the camera, go back outside and get this photo. I'm surprised he stayed long enough for that, usually when I go back to get my camera the birds fly away about the time I pull the camera up to shoot.

Scarlet Tanager:
Scarlet Tanager

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Springbrook Nature Center Part 2

I really did have a great time at Springbrook yesterday. There weren't a lot of people, so I was able to walk quietly and see plenty of birds. I have to admit that as much as I like photographing birds I missed quite a few shots yesterday just watching. I guess that's a pretty good sign that I was having a good time! Here are a couple more shots that I took:

Yellow Warbler:
Yellow Warbler.jpg

Brown Thrasher:
Brown Thrasher.jpg

There were plenty of Swallows as well . . . including one rubbing his head on his perch:

Tree Swallow:
Tree Swallow.jpg

I had initially ID'd this as a Tree Swallow, thanks to those that helped me correctly ID this bird.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Rubbing his head:
Tree Swallow Head Rub.jpg