Killdeer’s Empty Nest in our Front Yard

Mother Killdeer

Readers of JBRish know that we have been hosting a mother Killdeer while she incubates eggs in her nest. A couple of days ago, the mother was off the nest for a moment while we were working in the front yard and I noticed that only three of the four eggs remained.

This morning, I did not see the mother on the nest so once again I walked over to the nest to see that there were no eggs or remnants of eggs.

I think perhaps that the eggs were eaten by a predator since there were no broken shell pieces to be found. I looked for chicks, but could not find any. I will continue to search for baby Killdeer, but they may have become part of the “circle of life.

(The eggs were to the right and just below the single weed we let grow in deference to the bird. As is customary with Killdeer, she lined the nest with small pebbles; nothing soft)

Abandoned Killdeer nest

To read the other JBRish posts about our Killdeer visitors:

Birds of Arizona – Killdeer ( Charadrius vociferus )

Killdeer Eggs in Our Yard; Oh My!

For more information about the Killdeer’s rearing process, you can read The Precocious Killdeer.

JBRish.com originally published this post
All photographs are Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved

See previous Life in the Desert posts HERE

See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE

Killdeer Eggs in Our Yard; Oh My!

Several days ago, I reported about the Killdeer that have taken up residence near our house in North Phoenix, AZ. We saw them for days as we worked outside early in the morning tending our plants and preparing for the warmer, or more appropriately, hotter weather. You can see that initial post HERE.

Well, now we know why they were hanging around. They found a spot on the side of our landscape that they felt was just right for their “nest” although it is far from comfortable or nest-like from my obviously non-avian point of view. It is actually a depression they created by moving some of the landscape stones to the side. The mother must also bear the brunt of the intense sun for the entire day. Our attempt to set up a shade barrier frightened her and had to be removed for fear of having the nest abandoned.

Killdeer eggs

Four Killdeer eggs in a hard-packed nest

Killdeer mother tending the nest

Killdeer mom tending her nest in the hot Arizona sun

It is amazing to see how well both the mom and the eggs blend with the surroundings. Each morning we must strain our eyes to find her once again!

Birds of Arizona – Killdeer ( Charadrius vociferus )

We were living on our street for more than eight years before I noticed this very interesting bird visiting our neighborhood. At first I thought it was a shore bird that had lost its way, but I soon discovered there were several of these feathered residents.

Off to the books I went and I discovered that the bird was a Killdeer Charadrius vociferus ).

Killdeer

This morning two of them were in and around our yard so I began to stalk them with my Canon SX50 HS superzoom. They were very timid and didn’t want to stay in one place very long.

Killdeer

I was fortunate to get some pictures, but not all of them were as sharp as I would have liked.

Until I saw these photographs, I never appreciated the orange eye ring!

Killdeer

This bird probably thought it was hiding from me by burrowing in next to our somewhat elevated street.

Killdeer

 

JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

See additional photographs and posts about birds HERE.

Video – Bird Frozen to Fence Saved by Warm Breath

I have an affinity for birds. I think they are magical, beautiful and graceful creatures. I have documented some of my attempts to photograph and/or identify the birds that I see during my travels.

The video below captures one man helping a finch that had become frozen onto a nearby steel fence. As you watch the video, notice how he massages the feet of the bird, then uses his breath to “defrost” the area around the bird’s feet and finally releases the bird. Who knows what might have happened to the bird under these circumstances if it was not released in such a kind way?. This was one lucky and happy bird.

Here is the note from the YouTube Video page:

Published on Jan 1, 2017

Rescue of bird frozen to fence.

While feeding my horses on New Year’s morning I noticed a solitary finch perched upon the steel fence near the water tank. The tank is heated to keep it from freezing. It is not uncommon for birds to drink from the heated tank. Apparently this unfortunate bird had gotten its feet wet and, while making its exit, had become frozen to the fence in the prevailing near zero Idaho temperatures. First, I attempted to warm the feet of the frightened bird by pressing my palm against both the fence and the birds feet, while also gently restraining the bird’s flapping wings. It then seemed that warming the birds feet with my warm breath would bring quicker success. Gentle sideways motion with my thumb brought freedom for the frightened bird and a smile of satisfaction to my face… a delightful way to start a new year.

 


See previous Vide-Ohs HERE

Photography – When is good enough, good enough? A bird story

American Dipper bobbing for food
American Dipper at Seven Falls, CO – bobbing for food.

I have written about two of my interests, photography and bird watching, on the pages of this blog. When I speak of them, I describe myself as an “opportunistic” photographer and an “opportunistic” bird watcher.

What I mean when using such a phrase is that generally speaking photography and bird watching are not often the center of my activity. I am usually hiking, touring or visiting with friends. My camera is with me during most of these events so naturally, I like to capture photographs of things that are of interest me. I am not too hyper about my photography exploits however. I try to capture those images that will serve my artistic or educational purposes, but if I miss the shot…well, I miss the shot.

In the same light, a number of my photographs are lacking in quality for one reason or another. Perhaps my equipment is not up to the task. Sometimes I make a mistake and my settings are incorrect and the capture fails. While photographs taken under less than ideal circumstances may not have much artistic value and may not be worth placing on the Internet, they can be good enough. Let me explain…

We were recently visiting Colorado Springs, CO and during our stay, we went to the Broadmoor resort to hike their Seven Falls Park and it was very nice. As we walked the trail and came to an elevated platform called the Eagle’s Nest, there was a stream that ran along the base of the nearby mountain. Wading in that stream, looking for a good meal, was a bird I had never seen before: an American Dipper.

When I see a bird that is new to me, I like to capture a picture as “proof of sighting.” Quite honestly, at times I take a bird’s picture because I don’t know the bird and I hope to ID it later via a birding book, a birding app or the Internet. In this instance, I knew the bird was an American Dipper because of an explanatory nearby sign. I wanted a record of my sighting of the bird.

Here is my problem…the bird was relatively far away and the only camera that I had with a chance of yielding a photo that would be useable was my bridge camera, i.e. a Canon PowerShot SX50HS. As I have reported on this blog before, the camera does best with an ISO of 100, but may be passable at ISO 200. It also performs better with smaller aperture openings.

Unfortunately, this was a cloudy day and the time was getting late. Low ISO and smaller aperture settings were not going to work here. I could not use the settings I needed to get the best shot. What was I to do? My philosophy is “Take the picture anyway.” As long as the picture is able to be used to ID the bird and provide “proof of sighting,” it will be good enough.

Here are the pictures I was able to capture. They are not going to impress anyone or come close to winning any awards. They really aren’t even good enough for posting on Instagram, Flckr or anywhere on the Internet except for an educational article like this one.

The pictures are good enough for my purpose and when added together, enable me to identify the bird as the American Dipper. Whether or not a picture is good enough for you can only be determined by the goal(s) you set for yourself. I can use these photographs to validate that I saw and identified this particular bird and that was my goal!

American Dipper resting
“American Dipper at Seven Falls, CO – resting between bobbing for food “

American Dipper rejoining the search for food
“American Dipper at Seven Falls, CO – searching once more for food”

For comparison, below are two clearer pictures of an American Dipper. The yellow bill in my photographs indicate that my photos were of a young bird. The bill turns dark as they grow older.

American Dipper
American Dipper – Picture Courtesy of National Audubon Society

American Dipper
American Dipper – Picture Courtesy of the website of Joseph V Higbee

 

JBRish.com originally published this post

See previous Photography posts HERE

Birds of Arizona – Wild Turkey (Melagris gallopavo)

Wild Turkey in Arizona

This colorful fellow came across our path as we were hiking in Brown Canyon which is part of the Coronado National Forest. There were a couple of females around and as we approached, he fluffed his feathers and put on quite a display. His wattle got redder and redder until it remained a deep, dark red. I never appreciated how colorful and perhaps a bit strange turkeys appeared.

There is one subspecies of turkey that is known to inhabit the area in which this particular bird was spotted and it is Merriam’s Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo merriami). I am guessing that is the bird in these pictures, but I am not absolutely certain. Any comments that would help confirm this would be appreciated.

Below is close up of the tom’s head. It really is astounding to see all those vibrant colors and features!

Wild Turkey in Arizona - Head Shot

For more information, you can check Arizona Game & Fish Department web page.


My Personal Birding Philosophy

I enjoy birdwatching or rather bird identification. I am not an avid birdwatcher, but rather an opportunistic birdwatcher. What I mean by that is that my other hobby, photography, takes me to scenic places where I often see birds. I like to take several snaps of the birds and then return home with my birding books and try to identify the winged creatures I encountered.

I must confess that I am not one to travel far just to see a bird or two although I have done that on occasion. I would rather take them as they come and count myself lucky when I spot a new-to-me bird. I do admire birds and advocate for them whenever I can.

 
See additional photographs and posts about birds HERE.

Birds of Arizona – Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Greater Roadrunner
The Roadrunner lives in our backyard with a mate. They are elusive, but surface from time-to-time and once or twice a summer with a lizard in their grasp.

You can read more about the Greater Roadrunner at this page from Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

 

JBRish.com originally published this post

See previous JBRish posts and pictures about birds HERE

Young Barn Owls Learn How to Fly

Cute Barn Owl Learns How To Fly – Super Powered Owls – BBC

Barn owls are very pretty and unusual-looking creatures. This short video shows two young barn owls being raised from chicks by humans and now need to learn how to fly. Luna, the older, is first to experiment with flight. The unique head movements are curious and look at the size and sharpness of the talons!