Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mourning dove up close

Pretty much just what the subject line says: some close ups of a Mourning Dove, taken as it sat on my bird feeder in September 2012:

Giving me a bit of the side-eye here:

One last beauty shot—I particularly like how you can see the reflection of the side of my apartment and the window I was shooting through in its eye:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Meal time

Some photos I took of a Starling feeding its young over the course of a couple of days in June 2012:

I don't recall if the second bird down there in the corner ever got anything to eat while I was watching.  Here's hoping if it didn't, it was first in line for the next meal:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Turkey vultures

Out of habit, whenever I leave or arrive at my apartment I always glance up at the big dead tree across the road to see if any birds are sitting up there. In the spring and early summer of last year, I'd  quite often look and immediately do a double take, as Turkey Vultures were perching there with surprising frequency. These particular photos were taken on an April evening, just after I'd gotten home. The sun was in front of me, so I didn't get a lot of detail in these shots, but I thought the silhouetted results were still pretty cool.

A closer look at the vulture in what I'd call a classic vulture pose. Interesting thing about North American vultures: they don't have nasal septums, so you can see right through their nostrils. In addition to enhancing the vulture's sense of smell, this biological quirk makes sense from a practical standpoint as well—when you're sticking your face deep into a carcass, the last thing you need is rotting meat stuck in your nose. Turkey Vultures have the largest nostrils of the three, and even from as far away as I was, you can see the light through those perforated nostrils on the bridge of its nose:

Fluffing out the feathers a bit:

A slightly different angle on the bird, as well as a change of light as the sun came out a bit—as you can see, the Vulture is keeping an eye on me as well:

As I photographed the one bird, another one swooped by:

A lucky catch of the sunlight reflecting off the wings of the airborne bird:

The two Vultures posing together:

Another interesting thing about Vultures—because most breeds lack a syrinx (the avian version of our larynx), the only sounds they can make are hisses and grunts. So I had no idea the bird on the right had its beak open until I was looking at these images later:

A look at the second bird just after it took off again:

And finally, the sequence of photos I took when the original Vulture decided it was time to depart for the day:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter sunset

Absolutely spectacular sunset this evening here in Vermont. These first two pics are from my iPhone:

Then I pulled out the good camera for a few more shots:

A slightly closer look from the same perspective:

 And one final shot as the light faded:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bird on a wire

This summer,  I would often see a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on one of the wires along a certain stretch of road either going to work or on my way home. Naturally, when I had the time to stop it was never in sight, but when I was running late it would be there without fail. Finally, though, I lucked out—it was there one August afternoon when I had plenty of time to hang out and take pictures to my heart's content:

Scratching its head:

Posing for me:

Without warning, it took off from its perch, and I figured that was it:

But rather than flying off, it flew straight down into the pasture beneath it:

Whatever it was after, it was unsuccessful in its attempt to catch it. However, it gave me a great look at those gorgeous tail feathers:

Once it situated itself on a nearby tree, I repositioned myself and resumed photography:

I'm not quite sure why, but at one point it clenched one of its talons into a fist for a bit:

Time for some grooming:

I really liked how its hackles are standing out in this shot:

Seconds after assuming this position, the hawk... cleaned out its system:

And then took off while it was pointed right towards me:

Happily, it didn't go very far, resettling on the wires again. The sun was also out at that moment, bringing out the colors of the hawk's feathers really nicely:

The sun went back behind some clouds, but I was still able to get some decent shots of the bird as it settled in for a bit more grooming:

Shaking itself out:

Preparing to take off for the last time:

But at least it flew into the sunlight as it departed:

One final look as it headed out over the trees: