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 ).


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.


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!


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

Killdeer 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 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. 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!

A Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in the Desert

As followers of know, I live on the edge of the desert in North Phoenix only a few miles from Cave Creek, Arizona. As such, we have an interesting array of wildlife including many birds. One of my hobbies is trying to identify as many birds as possible when I can see them and/or capture them with a camera.

Today, a hawk landed on a telephone pole near the back corner of our yard. I have a Canon Powershot SX50 HS which has a very large zoom and allows me to get relatively close to birds even if they are far away. Since this bird was large, it made it just a bit easier.

I took these two pictures just before the hawk flew away.


juvenile Red-tailed Hawk


juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

It turned out to be a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

What birds reside in your area? originally published this post

To See More JBRish Bird Pictures Click Here

Birds of Las Cruces, NM

NOTE: To read more about one of the birds presented and to see an alternative picture, click the link associated with the name of the bird in the article below.


NM Birding Trail Sign

During our hiking visit to the Las Cruces, NM area, I was able to focus my attention on bird photography as well; forgive the pun.

One bird that was a new sighting for me was a Scaled Quail.

Scaled Quail

I thought the pattern on the feathers was quite interesting.

Hiking along a canyon wash, I spotted a bird atop a wall.

Rock Wren

It had a somewhat familiar look because, as I later found out, it is a relative of the Cactus Wren. It was a Rock Wren.

Rock Wren

The smallish bird below sitting on a branch is a Western Wood-Pewee.


As a gust of wind came along I caught a shot of a Peewee from the other side.


We also encountered a… Black-throated Sparrow


and a Chipping Sparrow as we made our way up and down the mountain trails.

Chipping Sparrow

At the nearby Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park we spotted additional birds

This Swainson’s Hawk was very high in the sky, but I did the best I could. The unique color pattern of the underside is a sure give away.

Swainson's Hawk

Several Barn Swallows were dodging in and out from under one of the roofs and the light was very dim, but this appeared to be a parent with some food for a nestling.

Barn Swallow

A Northern Mockingbird did not seem to mind as we moved in to get a closer look.

Northern Mockingbird

At a rest stop on the way home from Las Cruces this fellow was hopping from trash bin to trash bin looking for some goodies.

Chihuahuan Raven

Chihuahuan Raven