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+00:00 March 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+00:00 March 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+00:00 December 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+00:00 June 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+00:00 February 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+00:00 November 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+00:00 November 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+00:00 October 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+00:00 June 8th, 2009|Birds, Uncategorized|0 Comments