Category Archives: Birds

Stay Out Of My Territory

The Red-winged blackbird is best known for the males’ distinctive red shoulder patches called epaulettes. It is believed to be one of the most numerous land birds in North America. The male will aggressively defend its territory during breeding season against intruders. This particular bird was a little annoyed by me and my camera. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Red-Winged Blackbird

It is Spring and the displaying male Red-Winged Blackbirds ( Agelaius phoeniceus ) are trying everything to get noticed. Like the bird in this photo they spread their wings and puff out their orange and yellow shoulder patches while singing and calling. The conk-la-ree is a classic sound in a wetlands area.

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Northern Pintail

Often referred to as the ‘greyhound of ducks’ because of its slender and elegant appearance, the Northern Pintail ( Anas acuta ) is found in shallow ponds and marshes. It feeds on seeds and aquatic insects. The Northern Pintail in the photo is a breeding male who looks this way from November to June. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Mid-Air Dance

At first these two juvenile bald eagles were just soaring in huge circles above me. Eventually their flight paths started to cross and they would become very acrobatic turning inverted and trying to grasp each other with their talons. Some adult bald eagles become locked in a death spiral as part of their mating practices. However, these two juvenile bald eagles seemed to be playing with each other.

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The Grey Ghost

This morning I was taking some images of a male Northern Harrier hawk ( Circus cyaneus ). When it flies it alternates several deep wing beats with glides. It is commonly seen gliding low in search of prey. I like this photo because it’s staring right at me with its beautiful yellow eyes. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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A Rainy Day

I woke up this morning to the sound of heavy rain. Despite the unfavourable conditions I ventured out with my camera. I’m glad I did, because I was able to spend a few hours photographing bald eagles. It was quiet and there were very few people around to disturb the raptors. I really like the first photo, it’s tack sharp, with the rain in the background and how the water beads on the bald eagles feathers. Click on a photo to see a larger version.

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A Dense Flock of Lesser Snow Geese

In April the Lesser Snow Geese will begin their migration back to Wrangel Island which lies in the Arctic ocean, north of Siberia and is part of Russia. For now they continue to feed in the Fraser and Skagit river estuaries. I could see a few geese that had been individually marked with coloured neck collars which contain radio-transmitters that are used in migration and population studies. Some of these marked individuals have made non-stop flights between Alaska and the Fraser river estuary in less than 36 hours! I found this very interesting, but since no one else reads my blog, I’m probably the only one. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

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Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier ( Circus cyaneus ) is a slender, medium sized raptor with a distinctive white rump. Harriers are unusual in that there is a greater difference between male and female plumage than is typical of raptors. Females are brown ( like the one in the photo below ) and males are gray with black wingtips. Northern Harriers use their sense of hearing to help locate prey. They have an owl-like facial disk that may help with directional hearing and soft feathers for a quieter flight. I was watching this Harrier flying very fast, low and following the contours of the ground. It was harassing ducks in an open marsh area.

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Wood Duck

The Wood Duck ( Aix sponsa ) is a distinctively North American species. It was hunted nearly to extinction during the late 19th and 20th centuries. Management procedures were successful and there are now well over a million Wood Ducks in North America. The Wood Duck in the photo is a male and they are the most stunningly pretty of all waterfowl. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Bufflehead

One of the smallest ducks the Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is very energetic in its feeding. They eat aquatic insects, mollusks and small amounts of plant material. It forages mostly underwater. Less sociable than most ducks, seen in pairs or small groups, almost never in large flocks. The Bufflehead in the photo below is a female. Note the auricular white patch. She was repeatedly diving in front of me along the riverbank. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

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