Sunday, May 29, 2011
Preface: These shots are crappy and not up to BirdWordGirl standard; but they illustrate something not often seen, so it is worth sharing them, despite the damage they might wreak upon my PhotoEgo.
Yesterday morning at low tide along the Duwamish River. Lots of juvenile starlings around; this one got very unlucky. For two agonizing minutes, the crow plucked and pecked at the starling, who squealed and cried on its back, pedaling its legs in protest. Meanwhile all nearby starlings and robins went beserk with alarm calls.
The crow spent nearly as much energy defending its killing process from its voracious corvid colleagues as it did pecking at the starling.
Frankly, it was a relief when the body was finally lifeless and feathers began flying as the crow tucked in. After a few seconds, the crow flew off with the body, assailed by its colleagues.
(Yes, I did briefly consider stopping the killing but the hard facts intervened: starlings are a non-native species which are numerous and at times quite harmful to native species. If it had been a Flicker, my favorite bird, I would have gone ballistic on that crow's ass.)
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
We had feeble, fleeting moments of sun on Sunday and this Flicker took advantage of the warmth to stretch, yawn and take a sun bath. She extended her wings, lowered her body to the sun-warmed branch, closed her eyes and lolled her head to the side. Kind of like us.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Ferruginous: from Latin: ferrgin-, iron rust, iron-rust color.
Pygmy: it's damn small--with a body about the size of a man's balled fist.
Seeing this owl and capturing its face was particularly satisfying as I'd briefly seen its relative, the Northern Pygmy Owl, in Arizona last fall. It was similarly perched above me, about 20' up, in an anonymous, indistinct little brown ball which flew away before I could photograph it well. So being able to look into the face of a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl makes me feel the circle is somewhat closed now.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
This one, shot yesterday during a spontaneous evening walk, landed in my friend Paul's front yard on East 20th Street and wins bonus Cuteness Points for being fluffy and disheveled from a recent bath or collision with some very wet shrubbery.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
As I slowed down my bike to get my camera out, I was literally eye to eye with a Pileated Woodpecker (at left) in a tree. These stout birds are remarkably skittish for the size, but this one was insanely indifferent to me and my camera. At one point, I was probably five feet away from her as she pounded a tree for insects. Her thread-like tongue is visible in this shot, emerging from the tip of her beak like a serpent's hiss.
Of course, I'm no ornithologist, but my guess is that during the mating and nesting season birds are so zealously finding nesting material and food to fuel their parenthood that they become somewhat oblivious to what would normally be a threat (a sweaty, dorky bike helmet-wearing human with a long camera lens).
This male Northern Flicker (at right) was excitedly excavating a nesting hole alongside Lake Union. Occasionally he would stop his pounding and make a mating call, which went unaswered.
A bit further away on the lake, I discovered a mated pair taking turns excavating their nest. About every 20 minutes one approached the nest, vocalizing to announce his or her incoming arrival to its mate who was working away in the hole. The vocalization helped me too--so that I could ready my lens to capture shots like this one below.