Category Archives: Science

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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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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Happy Holidays

I came across this herd of Roosevelt elk grazing in a meadow. With the setting sun and frosted trees in the background it created a beautiful winter scene. Roosevelt elk have a golden brown coat during the summer and a longer, grayish brown coat during the winter. Their legs, head and neck remain dark brown year round. Have a wonderful Christmas and happy new year. Click on the photo 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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Bald Eagles

Early this morning I spent some time taking images of bald eagles feeding on dead salmon. Despite the rain it was a nice way way to start the day. Click on one of the photos to open up the gallery.

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Northern Flicker – Male (Red Shafted)

I spent some time this morning taking images of a Northern Flicker which is a type of woodpecker. You wouldn’t expect to see a woodpecker on the ground, but the Northern Flicker spends a lot of time there digging for ants and beetles with their slightly curved bill. In eastern North America the Flickers flight-feather shafts are lemon yellow and in the west they are rosy red. The Northern Flicker has beautiful plumage and this particular bird with the red moustache stripe is a male. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

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Good News

The New Democratic Party followed through on one of its campaign promises and announced that they are banning grizzly bear trophy hunting in British Columbia, which will take effect on November 30, 2017. Individuals will still be able to hunt grizzly bears for their meat and environmental groups are concerned about this loophole.

I recently spent a week photographing grizzly bears. They are beautiful animals and it was a humbling experience. There is a strong argument for stopping the hunt:

1.) Bears are vulnerable – nine of the province’s fifty seven grizzly population units are listed as threatened.
2.) Sound science says the hunt can’t be maintained – more bears are being killed than government quotas allow.
3.) Living Bears are worth more – bear viewing companies directly employed an estimated 510 people in 2012, in contrast to hunting guide outfitters, who created a mere 11 jobs.
4.) Grizzly bears are an integral part of the ecosystems where they live
5.) The vast majority support a ban – eighty seven percent of British Columbians want the trophy hunt banned in the Great Bear Rainforest. Eighty per cent of residents want the ban extended to the entire province.

You can see my grizzly bear images and purchase prints here.

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The Great Blue Heron

The most commonly employed hunting technique of the Great Blue Heron is wading slowly with its long legs through shallow water and quickly spearing fish with its long, sharp bill. It’s the largest North American heron. As I was watching this heron, I noticed it was very patient and consistently catching small fish. Click on an image to see a larger version.

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Osprey ( Pandion Haliaetus )

I spent a few evenings taking images of an adult osprey as it was feeding on fish. It would fly just off the shore as the tide was coming in, looking down for fish in the water. The pattern it was flying reminded me of the circuit planes fly around an airport. The osprey would fly downwind over the ocean and then turn upwind as it hunted for fish. By flying into the wind it could fly slower and hover more easily before diving into the water feet-first to grasp its prey. When it caught a fish and began to climb it also shook itself like a dog when it steps out of water. The osprey is the only bird of prey that feeds exclusively on live fish. After catching a fish it carries it headfirst to make it as aerodynamic as possible. I feel truly blessed that this beautiful raptor let me spend some time with it. Click on an image to see a larger version.

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