This time of year the Bald Eagles ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) are chasing one another as part of their courtship. Early this morning, I was watching a male chasing a female and they were continuously circling, climbing and diving. In this photo, I like the silhouettes of the Bald Eagles who are flying in sync and the simplicity of the background which conveys a sense of peacefulness and freedom.
When I took the photos shown below this Short-eared owl ( Asio flammeus ) was far away. At home, when I looked at the images on my computer, I could see in the first photo that it was looking right at me. This owl must have very good vision. They’re about the size of a crow and unlike most owls, they hunt during the daylight. Short-eared owls flap with stiff beats of their rounded wings, giving their flight a buoyant, mothlike quality. They use acute hearing to hunt small mammals and birds.
This morning I spent some time photographing a Anna’s hummingbird ( Calypte anna ). They are the most common hummingbird along the Pacific coast. The males have iridescent emerald feathers and a sparkling rose-pink throat patch called a gorget. In their thrilling courtship displays, they climb to a height of 40 m and then swoop to the ground with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers. The display dive takes about 12 seconds. I have read that the heart of an Anna’s hummingbird beats at 1260 beats per minute and they eat more insects than any other North American hummingbird.
When I first started to take pictures of wildlife I used my telephoto lens to create a closeup image of an animal. Lately, I’ve been learning to take photos of animals that shows them in their natural environment, which is often referred to as an animalscape. These images are more challenging, the composition requires more thought and work on the part of the photographer. The image below shows a juvenile bald eagle in its natural habitat which includes the wetlands, ocean and mountains.
This morning I spotted a Northern Saw-whet Owl ( Aegolius acadicus ) sleeping in a conifer tree. Owls are generally nocturnal predators, with hooked bills, needle-sharp talons, large eyes and facial discs. The Northern Saw-whet Owl can be found year round in this area and they hunt rodents from perches. It’s one of the smallest owl species in North America.
In late November Bald Eagle’s gather near certain rivers to feed on salmon that die after spawning. I was fortunate to experience some beautiful light when taking these images. Click on any photo to open the gallery and then use the navigation arrows. Comments are always welcome.
The Hooded Merganser ( Lophodytes cucullatus ) is the smallest of the three species of mergansers found in North America. The Hooded Merganser finds its prey underwater by sight, the dictating membrane (third eyelid) is clear and acts to protect the eye during swimming, just like a pair of goggles. They are extremely agile swimmers and divers but awkward on land because their legs are set far back on the body. They can be found year round in British Columbia. The bird in the photo is a male with a crest that shows a large white patch. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The Trumpeter Swan ( Cygnus buccinator ) is the largest waterfowl species native to North America. It is entirely white except for its bill, legs and feet. It spends winters in western British Columbia and feeds on aquatic plants. In the 1950’s a large population of these birds were found in Alaska and today their population is estimated at close to 16,000. Click on the image to see a larger version.
I was looking through some images I took last winter and I came across this photo of a rain soaked bald eagle. I like this image because the bald eagle is making eye contact with me and you can see its sharp and powerful talons. The bald eagle may not look its best due to the rain, but it shows this beautiful bird of prey in its element during harsh conditions. Click on the image to see a larger version.
I was fortunate to spend some time this morning with a flock of Long-billed Dowitcher’s ( Limnodromus scolopaceus ). Their bills are full of nerve endings, which are useful for sensing prey. They walk along slowly lifting their heads up and down like a sewing machine.