:Tag: behavior

Rafts of Dreaming Birds

Originally published at The Wild Beat in 2013 I stepped out of a mist and I knew I am. I am what I am. And then I thought, 'But what have I been before?' And then I found that I had been in a mist, not knowing to differentiate myself from things; I was just one thing among many things." ~ Carl Jung, The Red Book I used to think about Jung and bird [...]

2019-06-25T21:22:22+00:00February 14th, 2018|@Popular Posts, Blog|5 Comments

Spa Day for a Night Heron

... at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California I originally named this portrait "Standing Room Only." I'd never seen a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) creep chest-high into a pool -- then just stand there forever like a Japanese snow monkey. This pose made me laugh as I watched the heron soak up the swirls of his own private day spa. One of my Facebook friends wrote, "what is this lil man doing?" That comment captured [...]

2019-02-01T01:09:57+00:00March 5th, 2014|@Popular Posts, Blog|13 Comments

Clever, Corrugated Starlings

With starlings, I am often an outlier, even among people who share my conservation ethics and love for wildlife. That's because I appreciate starlings in a way that defies conventional dislike for the species in the United States. I wrote about this in a 2009 post about European Starlings and their introduction to the U.S. in the late 19th century: "Starlings are related to Mynahs, both in the family Sturnidae. They’re exceptional mimics. In [...]

2019-02-01T05:57:50+00:00June 20th, 2013|Blog|23 Comments

She’s a Hum Dum Dinger Pigeon

A little Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) courtship play ... photographed on the Seattle waterfront, in the magic hour of a winter evening. Music by Jimmie Davis - in the public domain Photographed with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 + Lumix 100-300mm (micro four thirds) • Edited in iMovie

2013-02-25T23:12:09+00:00February 25th, 2013|Uncategorized|10 Comments

The Thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops — at all – And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard – And sore must be the storm – That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm – I’ve heard it in the chillest land – And on the strangest Sea – Yet, never, in Extremity, [...]

2013-01-19T16:36:33+00:00January 19th, 2013|Birds, Uncategorized|15 Comments

[Northern] Flickering

I believe this interaction was a territorial display between two Northern Flickers. Their routine was on a continuous loop for about five minutes, performed on utility cables strung across our view of the city. Aggressive displays such as "bill directing" or "bill poking" are used by flickers. That is, a flicker may point his bill at a rival with his head inclined forward, or actually peck at an opponent. A more aggressive display is "head [...]

2013-01-15T22:40:07+00:00January 15th, 2013|Uncategorized|8 Comments

On Double-Banded Knee

Seattle crows are among the most famous of modern crows, owing to studies by John Marzluff which are featured in A Murder of Crows. This PBS Nature episode looks at Marzluff's University of Washington (UW) research projects and the crows' ability to recognize and remember human faces. I've seen a few UW-banded crows around town, but they're usually wheels up with a Cheeto before I can pull out my camera. The other day, I saw [...]

2012-02-28T12:18:45+00:00February 28th, 2012|Birds, Uncategorized|4 Comments

No Frozen Hummingbirds, Please

In the winter of 2011, my hummingbird nectar froze into a giant lifesaver of an ice cube. I'm a Californian which means I'm used to nectar that ferments into birdie moonshine after a few days in the sun. But last year we migrated north to Seattle ... at the same time Anna's Hummingbirds decide not to migrate south. So, I learned what it means to be a committed nectar provider and a hummingbird enabler. We [...]

2012-01-06T00:42:30+00:00January 6th, 2012|Birds|0 Comments

You Thinking What I’m Thinking?

I saw a huge group of crows scrounging for grubs and snacks in a vacant field near the Seattle waterfront. Since it was raining when I left home, I packed nothing but my rain gear and a point-and-shoot ... just in case. I guess I'm hard-headed because I should have learned by now that Seattle weather an hour from now bears no resemblance to the weather in the here and now. And this is why: [...]

2011-12-02T01:33:47+00:00December 2nd, 2011|Birds, Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Turns of Terns

I've described terns, with their distinct calls, as aerial barflies with too much whiskey and smoke on the voice box. Each tern is raspy in its own way, and Caspian Terns have a sharp croak that pierces the air over my balcony. They're huddled on a warehouse rooftop one minute, hundreds of them, blurred by a rising heat that's thick as shower glass. Then they're jetting over the bridge like little blanched superheroes, [...]

2011-06-06T01:47:23+00:00June 6th, 2011|Birds, Uncategorized|4 Comments

Anatomy of a Cormorant Landing

Double-crested Cormorant - Phalacrocorax auritus. Photographed with my Olympus E-3 and Zuiko 70-300mm. The birds were silhouetted in late afternoon light, high ISO 1000, some post-processing NR to compensate for the darker conditions.. I shot this series along the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle. If you've watched Double-crested Cormorants [literally] coming home to roost, you know that the process of securing a branch of one's own can be arduous. These cormorant wings are designed [...]

2011-03-25T22:56:58+00:00March 25th, 2011|Birds, Uncategorized|11 Comments

Dating, Bufflehead Style

I wish I'd been closer than the far reach of my lens, struggling for focus in the thick of weather. I snapped these from the shore, capturing the distant dynamics of a Bufflehead courtship ritual. Two males were vying for the one female pictured here.

2011-03-07T22:40:44+00:00March 7th, 2011|Uncategorized|1 Comment

I Preen, Therefore I Am

If you know birds, you know that preening isn't cosmetic fluff. It's a meticulous cleaning and placement of the bird's survival gear: feathers. Feathers need to be pristine for flight and for insulation. During oil spills, the analogy used about feathers is that a spot of oil on a bird's plumage is like a hole in a wetsuit. A substance like oil breaks the seal of the perfectly hooked barbules of the feather, [...]

2011-03-05T10:40:54+00:00March 5th, 2011|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Goose + Water

Feathers are such critical components of a bird's flight, insulation and general survival, it's no surprise they have meticulous spa routines. The bathing helps remove dirt and parasites, the preening helps reset the feather barbs. Most birds also coat the feathers with protective oil from the uropygial gland. We came upon a small family of geese, churning up the lake like wave machines. I love photographing birds in their bathing rituals. There's the beaded texture [...]

2010-12-01T23:01:25+00:00December 1st, 2010|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Fast Food [Gull] Nation

Part of what makes gulls both amusing and exasperating to humans is their cleverness and opportunism when it comes to food. Across the gull universe, the diet is omnivorous. They'll eat crustaceans, fish, insects and other marine organisms. They will also prey on the nests of other bird species for food. A number of researchers have explored (and continue to explore) how much of this type predation on nests is affected by human intrusion.  That is [...]

2010-06-01T13:51:12+00:00June 1st, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bird Bath Bliss

I'll never forget the experience of Mikiko and his bath. He was a hospital rescue, a Japanese Quail with no verifiable background. Most likely, he was being raised for food, for eggs, for hunting or for dog training, and the lucky little guy escaped into the arms of a good samaritan. Dust Baths I had custody of Mikiko, awaiting his transport to an aviary on the coast. Yes, Mikiko was headed for retirement in paradise. [...]

2010-02-18T01:55:52+00:00February 18th, 2010|Birds, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Kids Playing in a Puddle

I just came upon some great footage on You Tube, from David Neils. It shows three elk playing in a forest puddle. Embedding is disabled on that particular clip -- but you can link to it here: Three Elk Calves in a Puddle. This companion video below, also from Neils, shows what most people would construe as play -- among elk calves. Of course, since we don't know what's in their heads and hearts, there [...]

2009-11-22T17:57:08+00:00November 22nd, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tussle on Mountain Lake

This was a first for me . . . witnessing a down and dirty fight between American Coots intent on keeping each other off coveted turf. Neither bird was hurt. Well, maybe emotionally. The loser scrambled across the water to escape the victor. American Coots can drown in territorial battles, although it's not common. They pound each other with their huge, feet (and those lobed toes) and sometimes one coot is held under water in [...]

2009-11-21T20:05:26+00:00November 21st, 2009|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Shorebird Nation Rises Again

Ever since I picked up a telephoto lens and aimed it at my first non-human earthling, my seasons have morphed into migration schedules. Winter = Ducks. Spring= Babies. Fall (best time of all) = Shorebirds. I used to be an urban-girl-night-person -- before I knew what I was. Autumn was: early darkness, early cocktails. Schlepping out a camera and tripod at the crack of dawn is a significant metamorphosis. Shorebird Nation is now a phenomenon [...]

2009-10-22T15:23:22+00:00October 22nd, 2009|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Swoops the Blackbird – Exhibit A in “Mobbing” Behavior

I snapped this on the weekend before national t.v. crews showed up to fuel the celebrity of Swoops the Blackbird. (Click on the image for the larger Flickr version.) ©ingridtaylar Swoops, a Brewer's Blackbird with a nest of young to protect, perches on the awnings overlooking his brood and buzzes pedestrians who venture too close to his nest. This behavior -- known as mobbing -- is typical of certain birds during nesting season. But the [...]

2009-06-08T20:52:18+00:00June 8th, 2009|Birds, Uncategorized|0 Comments