The Grace’s Warbler is one of the few warbler family species that is found almost exclusively in the Southwest U.S. However, some parts of southern Colorado offer the habitat that this bird breeds in–pine-oak forests. In fact there are two locations in south central Colorado within a few hours of where I live that have small populations of this bird species. This bird is surrounded by pine needles in my photos as it was in a ponderosa pine forest.
Grace’s Warbler has a bright yellow breast, throat and chin while the rest of it’s plumage is grey and white with black streaks. While it might seem that it’s bright plumage would make it stand out among the green needles and brown branches, it has a habit of staying high up in the tops of mature pine trees which make it difficult to see. That is part of the reason that there has been so little research on this little bird. I always find them by listening for them singing. You can listen to their ‘musical thrill’ on the Audubon Birds website.
These pretty warblers are challenging to photograph since they are quite small (just under 5 inches in length), flit about quickly and are usually high up in tall pine trees. It takes a long telephoto lens and a good quality dslr camera to get good photos. I used my Canon 400 mm, 5.6 USM lens with a 1.4 extender on my Canon 60d dslr camera and cropped the photos to enlarge the view of the bird.
I took these photos of a Red-tailed Hawk who has her nest in a cave just yesterday morning . This is the first time I have been able to see her young nestlings and they only came into sight when she returned to the nest with food.
This nest is in a well protected location as it is built in this cave located on a cliff that is high up a steep hillside making it very difficult for predators to access it. You can see in the photo below that is not enlarged (by cropping the photo) that the nest is quite large. This location has been used intermittently over the past 7-8 years I have been watching birds in the canyon in Colorado where it is located and the hawks add nesting material to whatever material that is still there from previous nestings.
It takes a very long camera lens to capture even large birds like hawks when they are over a hundred feet away. I have a 400 mm lens with a 1.4 extender on my dslr camera. Since my Canon 60d camera is not full lens I get an additional 1.6X multiplier so it totals the equivalent of a 900 mm lens or 16X the view with our eyes.
The best thing about having a long camera lens is that I can photograph birds from a distance that does not disturb them which is especially important during nesting season. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology cautions bird photographers on their webpage ‘Responsible Bird Photography’:
Taking photographs of nesting birds is of special concern. When photographing nests or around a known nesting location please take extra care.
The photo just above shows a little more detail of the older nestling including it’s bill that now resembles the adult’s. Did you know that you can watch a live-streaming web cam showing a Red-tailed Hawk nest with nestlings? You can watch this at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Bird Cam website.
Last week, during a rare weekday visit to one of my favorite birding hotspots (Fort De Soto County Park in Florida), I was able to catch a few lucky shots of one of our more interesting songbirds, the Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus).
Adorable, right? It’s about the size of a chickadee, but this oh-so-fluffy and cute little bird has some very vicious feeding habits, leading some to call it the “Butcher Bird”.
Take a look at that open beak. See the sharp hooked point? It’s used to tear apart fairly large prey like lizards, snakes, mice, and even other birds. Once the Shrike has the prey, it subdues it by impaling it on something sharp, like the thorn of an acacia tree or a barbed-wire spike. Sometimes, it leaves the prey there to slowly die and decompose, making it easier to eat later on. You can see this feeding behavior in action in this video by National Geographic.
The Loggerhead Shrike is pretty easy to identify from its black “mask”, which sets it apart from Northern Mockingbirds. Males and females look alike, with juveniles only distinguished by a slightly duller gray plumage. In the summer, you’ll find it across much of the U.S. and Mexico, as well as parts of lower Canada.
Can you imagine 18 orioles on your deck? Roy and MaryLou Hazelton of Winona, Minnesota, live along the backwaters of the Mississippi River, and see many species migrating through their yard. The orioles know a good thing though, and will stick around, building several nests in the Hazelton’s yard.
Have the orioles reached your neck of the woods yet? If so, how many have you seen so far?
I am sure that you have heard or seen some strange places where birds have made their nests. Well, a friend of my mother’s discovered this bird’s nest in an unusual place:
On her front door!
A mourning dove had built her nest inside of their artificial wreath hanging on the front door.
Now, you might think that this would be a strange place to build a nest with people coming and going through the front door. But, for the residents who live here – this is their second home and they had been away for awhile.
I am sure that mama dove thought that this was the perfect place in which to lay her eggs and raise her babies.
Thankfully, the homeowners have another door to use to get into the house so that mama dove can be left undisturbed.
What strange and unusual places have you seen bird’s nests built?
I spotted this Eastern Phoebe last week in front of one of the cabins where I was staying. I was surprised when this bird did not flush from the area as I walked by. So I stopped to check it out. Aha, I spotted a second Eastern Phoebe sitting on a nest. As I watched [...]
Last week, my sister was in the backyard of her small farm when a killdeer started squawking at her. This kept occurring every time she venture out into the back lawn. It wasn’t until the killdeer pretended to have a broken wing that my sister realized that there must be a nest nearby. Killdeer often [...]
One of my favorite trees is an old peach tree located just down the road on the family farm, where my mother, youngest sister and her family live. Every year, I look forward to its fragrant, pink flowers signaling the end of winter. Soon the flowers are followed by lush, green leaves and ripening peaches. [...]
Birds & Blooms’ Friday Fun Photo for April 5, 2013: Blue Jay Hair Day by Christine Nolan of St. Charles, Missouri. Christine writes, “Nice hair!” With a do like that, what more can you say? Unless, of course, you’re talking to the best clever-caption writers out there: our family of Birds & Blooms readers! We [...]
In our May issue, we feature this snapshot of a cardinal attacking a kitchen window at the home of Martin Pothier of Abilene, Texas. Do you have a clever caption for this photo? Share it below and you might see your caption and name printed in the September issue of Birds & Blooms!
Though Tundra Swans are the smaller of the two swans native to North America (Trumpeter is other other), they are still quite large birds with a wingspan of 5 1/2 feet. While much larger than even the biggest Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans are so graceful that even a stretch looks like a beautiful pose. Tundra [...]
This pretty Common Redpoll sure don’t look ‘common’ with his (yes, a boy) bright red cap, black chin and pink breast. This has been a very big year for these artic breeding Common Redpolls to be seen at feeders far south of their usual wintering areas (from northern parts of the lower 48 through Canada). [...]
Last year, Nest Cams were all the rage, and I’m sure they will be again this year. It was tremendous fun to watch bald eagles, great horned owls, and great blue herons raise their newest generation from areas across the country. Right now, though, I’ve got a new addiction (it’s running in another window right [...]
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Meet Rob Ripma, our newest featured blogger. The Birds & Blooms staff was able to meet Rob at The Biggest Week in American Birding. Rob, along with his brother Eric, write the Nutty Birder blog where they share photos from their birding adventures both near and far. Check it out: Nutty Birder.