Tag: birdwatching

The last trio of woodpecker pages are now live

So the last three woodpecker pages are now up and live under the woodpecker family page (Picidae). The last three pages added were for the Northern Flicker, the red-headed woodpecker, and the pileated woodpecker.

Pileated woodpecker in the woods at Boomer Lake

So there are twenty-two woodpecker species that can be spotted in North America (Canada, US, Mexico) and to date I’ve spotted five of them, or not quite a quarter of them (twenty-two percent).

These birds can be spotted within forests, at the edge of forests, in city parks, in cacti, and at your backyard suet feeder (depending on the species).

Northern Flicker on the ground at Boomer Lake

I’ve realized that all five that I’ve spotted have either been around the wooded areas of city parks or at the backyard suet feeder.

A goal for 2021 is to see if I can spot a different species of woodpecker (possibly teh yellow-bellied sapsucker), or get better at distinguishing between the downy and hairy woodpeckers, or perhaps getting a better photograph of the red-headed woodpecker.

Red-headed woodpecker at the top of a dead tree

Getting a picture of the yellow-bellied sapsucker and the hairy woodpeckers would round out the woodpeckers that are common around Oklahoma. Getting a picture of any of the other woodpeckers common to North America will require at least one trip somewhere that has the type of forests (or cacti) that the woodpeckers prefer.

So the next set of bird pages to be publish on the blog will revolve around the hawks, eagles, kites, and osprey.

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National Bird Day, the first of three bird holidays

So today is National Bird Day. This is just one of the few days that are devoted to our feathered friends. The other important bird dates include Bird Day on May 4th, and then World Migratory Bird Day on May 8th (this one changes yearly as it is the second Saturday in May).

Great Horned Owl roosting at Boomer Lake

National Bird Day was started in 2002 by the Avian Welfare Coalition for a specific purpose: “to raise awareness of the hardships and plights of these important animals and how we can initiate the change needed to create a healthier, more sustainable relationship with them”.

One of the reasons why they started the day is that roughly twelve percent of all bird species in the world (which is roughly 1200 out of roughly 10,000) are in peril of extinction–through habitat loss, illegal wildlife trade, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and the humans expanding cities and towns.

Killdeer and young along the bank of Boomer Lake

One thing that you can do on National Bird Day is to go out and bird watch (and actually it is something that you can do any time of the year–weather permitting). It is also a great way of helping to count the number of bird species, as there are different ‘bird counting’ events throughout the year. National Bird Day falls within the Christmas Bird Count that the Audubon Society hosts which runs through December and January.

Other things you can do include setting up bird feeders, planting native bushes and flowers to attract native birds. Donations to various wildlife organizations (such as Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy, or Sierra Club), going to zoos (this supports the conservation efforts directed towards endangered species such as the California Condor and other birds).

Yellow finch sitting in the trees at Boomer Lake

So I usually do donations to various wildlife organizations when I can, I love to visit different zoos and see what animals are being cared for in different areas (usually the main difference can be in the bird species, reptile, and amphibian–sometimes fish), and I love birdwatching.

Green Heron flying through the mist at Boomer Lake

So, lets try to start being better caretakers of Mother Earth. While our population is growing–we should start revitalizing older, abandoned building instead of marching out into nature to build cities. Because if we destroy their world–we’re destroying ours as well.

What bird species are you hoping to get a picture of this year?

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The two ‘stocky’ heron (green & black-crowned) pages are live

So, two more bird pages are now live in the birding section of the blog (birds, birds, and birds).

I’m slowly making my way through the other family members of the heron, egret, and bittern family (Ardeidae) that I have taken pictures of in the wild.

The two pages that I’ve posted today are of the ‘stockier’ herons: the green heron and the black-crowned night heron.

I managed to get several pictures of the green heron last summer at Boomer Lake, and I was happy with how I managed to progress from just getting a partial picture of a green heron to actually getting a picture of one in flight during a very foggy morning.

Green heron in flight on a very foggy morning at Boomer Lake.

I haven’t seen a night heron since my trip to Hawaii back in 2009; but in all honesty, I had no idea that they migrated through Oklahoma. I think it would be super cool to spot one within the lower forty-eight states–though that may mean being in a slightly more tropical part (such as California, Florida, or along the Texas coast) where they are around all year.

Young black-crowned night heron peaking through the coconut fronds

The other ‘stocky’ members that I would like to get a picture of are the yellow-crowned night heron (which is mainly found in the eastern part of the US, though it does summer in OK), and the bitterns (both American and Least), but these two birds are even more secretive than the green heron.

Have you gotten a picture of a bittern? If you have–how long did it take to get a good picture?

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Pelican pages are live on the bird section

As I mentioned yesterday that I’m slowly adding pages under the birds, birds, and birds section.

One of the reasons was I wanted a little more order to how the pages looked in the drop-down and not just have a list of basically 90 different birds. Since I had already posted several different bird pages, I decided to finish up those groups before adding more.

Brown Pelican flying over the bay

I originally started with pages for the bald eagle, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, and the great blue heron. This gave me four different bird orders to research, several different bird families to research, and possibly numerous other bird pages to add (if I had pictures of said birds).

I decided to start with the order Pelecaniformes that includes the great blue heron (family Ardeidae). This order has in total five different families, but currently I am only describing/talking about three of them (ones that have family members that can be spotted within the United States–in the wild and not the zoo).

So with that being my starting point–the two pelican pages have been live for probably about two weeks now.

Brown Pelicans flying over the beach

Pelicans belong to the family Pelecanidae. The pages that I currently have are for the white pelican and the brown pelican (the two species that are found in the United States).

As mentioned on the pages–one photography goal is to get a better picture of a brown pelican, and possibly a picture of a brown pelican diving into the water after its meal.

White pelican resting at Boomer Lake

Long-term photography goals include getting the picture of at least two other pelican species in the wild (but that will require at least one trip outside the US–which is on hold until the pandemic is under control & I have managed to get the vaccine shot for SARS-CoV2)

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Update–realizing I’m procrastinating & catching up on the photography challenge: cormorants flying overhead

So I’m running a few days late with the photography challenge. Why? I think I bit off a little more than I could chew this week—I’m trying to complete two little challenges; one is a LinkedIn challenge (creating content, commenting on people’s posts, and connecting). Needless to say I’m a little behind on the challenge—I’m petrified of posting on the site (see my previous post), and trying to overcome that as well. The second challenge is a free 5-day challenge on Facebook (dealing with health/nutrition).

So the procrastination bug has bitten me hard the past couple of days—I sit staring at the computer, and then I end up going to sit outside for the afternoon, and try to get a numerous things done before bed.

Cormorants flying overhead

That now brings me to the winner of the photography challenge—which were some migratory birds flying overhead. On Sunday, I decided to take a mask and my camera and head up to Boomer Lake for a while.

While I decided to make it a semi-short walk

(round trip just over an hour walking), I knew that I should hopefully see one or two birds that may or may not be Canada geese or mallards.

As I was walking, I noticed that there was a large group of birds flying overhead. I stopped, looked up, and managed to get a good number of pictures of the birds. I had to wait until I got home and download the pictures to determine if the birds were ducks or cormorants (some that just migrate through, and others that winter in the area).

It turns out that the birds flying overhead were cormorants. Now are they the neotropical or double-crested? I would have to say that I’m not sure—the neotropical migrate through and the double-crested winter in the area. Since they’re so far overhead—I couldn’t tell the facial features (which are some of the best ways to differentiate between the two species).

Seeing these birds served as a reminder that I need to keep moving forward towards my goals—they move as needed between the seasons, locations, and so forth. Staying stationary isn’t beneficial in the long run.

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Starting a new photography challenge: Day 1: Bald Eagle

So I’ve decided that I’m going to start a fresh photography 365-day photography challenge. I will hopefully be sharing a ‘new’ photography daily for the next year. I’m going to clarify the ‘new’—as in hopefully sharing 365 different photographs. Some may be similar to past photography challenges (I mean we are in the middle of a pandemic and I haven’t been traveling), but I’m hoping not to repeat the photograph subject (at least for the first 100 days or so).

Bald Eagle soaring over Boomer Lake, Stillwater OK

In addition, I will probably be linking in a photography page to the current photograph—as a way of increasing views to those pages as well. Again, this is going to be an evolving project, an way for me to 1) increase my photography skills; 2) work on a project during the day that isn’t 100% related to job transition; 3) find beauty in the day; and 4) just have fun.

So the winner for day one is the Bald Eagle. The bald eagle, is the national symbol for the US, and is native to all of North America where it’s range stretches from Alaska down to the northern parts of Mexico. Depending on where you live, you may or may not see them in the wild—but if you’ve been to a zoo, you’ve probably seen one there.

Bald Eagle sitting in a pine tree, Lake Vermilion MN

I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to see these majestic birds in the wild—both where I currently live (I’m probably about half a mile away from the city ‘lake’) soaring above Boomer Lake every so often; and then up at Lake Vermilion in northern MN. I remember being about 12 or so, when my father and I took a kayak out to look at the nest of one of the bald eagle pairs on Vermilion Lake—it was huge.

These majestic birds have managed to climb back from the edge of extinction and while they aren’t protected under the Endangered Species Act, they are currently under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

I’m hoping that soon I can get back to my weekly walks around Boomer Lake and hopefully be able to spot one of these majestic birds soaring overhead looking for lunch to steal or catch.

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Photography Challenge Day 204 & 205: The Green Heron is still around

So the winner of the next double photography challenge is the green heron. This one (or these two) haven’t started their migration south yet, though they should be heading off within the next couple of weeks. Green herons migrate south anywhere from the end of August through October.

Well–we’re a little over halfway through September, so there is basically now six weeks until Halloween. I’m hoping to possibly get a few more pictures of them this fall before they head south, since I never seem to be able to get good pictures of them in the springtime.

Green Heron flying in the fog.

I managed to see them both mornings that I walked at Boomer Lake, though I saw them on opposite sides of the lake. On Saturday, I startled this one, and it flew past me to head into the little cove. Due to the fog, I lost sight of it once I turned around to follow it.

These guys blend right in with the dreary landscape, and if it had sat still and ignored me–I would have completely missed seeing it.

Green Heron flying across the lake

Sunday morning, I saw one of them flying from the little island towards the tall grasses that I had just passed. I knew that there wasn’t going to be any closer pictures this morning. Though I have to wonder where the other one is at–I’ve seen them as a pair this year. Even with the one I startled yesterday–I soon startled it’s mate/friend a few minutes later. I just wasn’t able to get a picture of it.

Though this is one thing that has made me happy this fall–being able to get a couple of good pictures of the green herons.

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Photography Challenge Day 199: Odds and Ends

So since I couldn’t just pick one or two pictures to share today, the theme is odds and ends. Basically a little bit of several things–namely insects, arthropods, and maybe either some fungi or a bird or two. In other words–it will be mainly pictures, with a few words here and there.

Viceroy butterfly

I did see a Viceroy butterfly on my morning walk the other day going around Boomer Lake. It was just sitting on the one edge of the bridge soaking up some morning sun before looking for food.

Heron flying overhead

I’m also pretty certain that I got a picture of a green heron in flight. The body type is right for them, and they’re a dark color. It just didn’t help that they had the sun at their back, making it hard to see the actual green color of their feathers.

Red-spotted Purple Admiral Butterfly

I managed to get a good picture of an red-spotted purple admiral this weekend as well. Luckily I spotted one on the street (and there weren’t any cars coming).

Bee on the flowers

Our decorative grass is flowering, and that means I’m starting to see some bees in the backyard again this fall. It’s always nice to see them.

Creepy little spider

Then I noticed that there was this little spider spinning it’s web between the leaves of some of the plants.

So these are just a few of the other pictures that I took this weekend (and I still have others I can share). Most of the pictures are nature/wildlife, as that is what I’m currently most comfortable trying to photograph. Though this fall/winter I may start branching out and starting to do some architecture shots as well. But mainly I’m focusing on enjoying a hobby, and maybe figuring out how to fit in daily with everything else.

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Photography Challenge Day 196: National Hummingbird Day

Since today is National hummingbird day—the winner of the photography challenge is the hummingbird.

Hummingbird on the wire

There are currently over 300 species of hummingbirds in the western hemisphere with at 150 of them living within the equatorial belt (which is ranges from ten degrees north of the equator to ten degrees south of the equator).

hummingbird at the feeder

Of the approximate 150 species living outside the equatorial belt, there are only twenty-three that venture north into North America: Mexico, the United States and Canada. This is also usually only during the spring and summer, then they make the return flight south to warmer climates for the winter.

Then of the twenty-three species that make it north, they spread out to where you may only see one species in one part of the country, but if you head towards another area, you may see three or four.

For Oklahoma, there are three species that can be found in some part of the state: the ruby-throated hummingbird, the black-chinned hummingbird, and the rufous hummingbird (though this one mostly just flies through).

Hummingbird sitting in the crepe myrtle bush

Though since Stillwater is in the north central part of the state (and probably could be considered north-east central), we really don’t see the black-chinned hummingbird as it is more common western part of the state (particularly in the southwest corner and the panhandle). So until it moves further east due to climate changes, we might get the sporadic one coming through—but for the most part we will mainly have the ruby-throated hummingbirds.

One goal may be to see how many of the other hummingbirds I can spot when I travel—though if I do any traveling into forests (specifically rain forests)—they will be extremely hard to spot, as animals have a tendency to avoid humans at all costs.

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Photography Challenge Day 195: The Green Heron (a short post)

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the green heron. I actually was able to get a good picture of the green heron as it landed on a tree limb at Boomer Lake.

Green heron sitting on the log at Boomer Lake

These birds are very easy to startle (compared to the great blue heron and great egret), so it was a surprise to see it on my walk—if it hadn’t flown from it’s original spot, I probably would have walked right past it.

Though as it flew past me, I did managed to get a picture–though with the sun coming up, and it being a dark colored bird, it does make for an interesting contrast.

Green heron flying over Boomer Lake at sunrise

Pretty soon, they’re going to start on their trip south to warmer winter areas (the gulf coast, Mexico, and possibly down into Central America). I’m going to have to try to keep an eye out for these guys, and move as slowly and quietly as possible as I’m doing it—so that I don’t scare them off before I’m able to get a good picture of them.

These are yet another species, that I’m going to have to be stealthy in terms of getting close to–or break out the tripod and larger lens for the camera.

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