Category Archives: Birds

Turkey Vulture

Early one morning, I was out exploring with my camera and telephoto lens, when I spotted the large brown bird in the photo below, which I thought, judging by its size, must be a bird of prey. However, after taking a closer look, I noticed it had a red, featherless head and I said to myself, “What is that?”. It was a turkey vulture which I had previously never seen in this area. Unlike most birds, the turkey vulture finds carrion by using its sense of smell and is protected from disease associated with decaying animals by a very sophisticated immune system. The turkey vulture only comes this far north during the summer months. There was a raven following it around as the turkey vulture flew from tree to tree and it seemed quite comfortable with the raven’s presence. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

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A Fog bow

I just returned from a week of exploring a remote area of Vancouver Island and came home with a greater appreciation for the natural beauty of British Columbia. There was an abundance of marine life to photograph which included humpback whales, killer whales, minke whales, pacific white-sided dolphins, dall’s porpoise, steller sea lions, harbour seals, sea otters, river otters, bald eagles, black turnstones, pelagic cormorants, common murres, rhinoceros auklets and kingfishers. Each morning there was coastal fog and one morning, as it began to burn off, it created this beautiful fog bow. At first I couldn’t understand the faint vertical line that appears in the middle of the photo shown below, but I think this is the shadow of the mast of the ketch I was on. To see more of my images visit The Salish Sea gallery and click on ‘View Slideshow’.

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Feathers

The Pacific Great Blue Heron is a patient hunter who often stands perfectly still for several minutes. This morning there was cloudy weather and scientific studies have shown that the clouds make it ideal for herons to look for fish. I watched this heron catching a few sculpin, which it swallowed, even though they were wider than its narrow neck. I like this photo because it shows its beautiful feathers. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Common Yellowthroat

The Common Yellowthroat ( Geothlypis trichas ) is a wood-warbler that lives in marshy or brushy vegetation near water. The bird in the photos is a male, with a bright yellow throat and broad black mask which crosses the forehead. They eat grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, spiders and sometimes seeds. I sat listening to its beautiful song that sounds like whichity-whichity-whichity.

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American Bittern

The American Bittern ( Botaurus lentiginosus ) is a medium sized marsh bird with a stout body, neck and relatively short legs. What is really neat about bitterns is that they won’t flush like herons when approached, instead they prefer to freeze and even sway from side to side as if imitating the waving reeds. They have a remarkable, though rarely seen courtship display, where the male arches his back, shortens his neck, dips his breast forward and ‘booms’ at the female. Both birds engage in complicated aerial displays. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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Spring

I enjoy being outside early in the morning. Often there is no wind, little traffic, sweet light and I usually have a wonderful start to the day, while most of the city is still sleeping…

I captured this image of a Pacific Great Blue Heron foraging and feeding in a marsh. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

It’s Spring and many Canada Geese have new goslings. In ten weeks, this ball of fluff will become a full grown Canada Goose. This little gosling was busy exploring and eating grass while its parents kept one eye on it and the other eye on the guy with the camera. The gosling had proportionally large legs and feet. It reminded me of a cute and tiny little dinosaur. Click on the image to see a larger version.

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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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