Tag: migratingbird

The spotted sandpiper: photography challenge day 70

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the migratory spotted sandpiper (as Oklahoma is at the northern end of their migratory path). I’d noticed the solitary sandpiper walking up and down a log at the edge of the lake, and was able to get several pictures before it noticed me and flew off.

Spotted sandpiper foraging on a log.

During the breeding season they are easy to identify, as they have dark spots on their white breast, and the back is a dark brown; they also have a white strip above their eyes.They are also one of the most widespread breeding shorebirds, meaning they can be found near almost any type of water (streams and rivers, ponds, lakes, and even beaches).

It looks like it might have found something tasty.

Their diet consists of insects, earthworms, crayfish, and small fish.

Pretty spotted sandpiper.

So what are some unusual facts about the spotted sandpiper?

And then it flew off to this log……

It’s the female that establishes and defends the territory—so she will arrive earlier in the areas where they breed, which is most of the northern US into Canada and Alaska. The males take the primary role in incubating the eggs (this is usually about three weeks) and taking care of the young.

The female may (or may not) mate with several different males and lay eggs in different nests which then the different males will then incubate.

The young are able to feed themselves soon after hatching, but are still tended by the male. The young are usually able to fly about three weeks after hatching.


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Photography Challenge Day 62: the migratory Osprey

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the migrating osprey (Pandion haliaetus). While on my walk around Boomer Lake I noticed a large raptor circling the lake, and once I realized it wasn’t a vulture I managed to get a couple of pictures. Thanks to the ability to zoom in on the pictures, I realized that it was in fact the osprey that I manage to get a picture of.

The Osprey hunting over the lake.

These raptors are only migrating though Oklahoma on their way to their summer haunts in the northern parts of the United States and Canada. The coloring of the birds are such that if you’re looking down at them (or they’re sitting in the trees or roosting somewhere), they look brown; but as they fly over head (and you’re looking at them from below), they’re white with their wings looking striped. They also have a white head, but have a broad brown stripe around the eyes.

Obviously the one that I watched for awhile was searching for something to eat as it as circling the lake several times (whether or not it actually caught a fish—I’m not sure, I didn’t watch it that long).

The osprey’s wings and tail make an “M” in the sky….

What are some interesting facts about ospreys?

Over the course of their life, ospreys may migrate over 160,000 miles (as they breed in the northern parts of the US and into Canada and Alaska; but they winter down in Central and South America).

They rely on manmade structures to serve as the base for their nests, though if they can find a sturdy dead tree they may build their nests on the top of that as well.

They only spend about 12 minutes hunting before attempting to make a catch (and they usually manage to catch a fish at least one in four dives).

They have a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp their catch with two toes in front & two toes behind. After catching their fish and returning to their nest or perch to eat, they fly with the fish facing forward for the least amount of wind resistance.

They’ve made a comeback after the banning of the DTT pesticide.




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A rare sight: Migratory Common Loon. Photography Challenge Day 49

So on today’s walk I managed to actually see and get a picture of a migrating common loon (Gavia immer).  I thought I’d heard one yesterday–but hadn’t planned on walking all the way around the lake. Today I didn’t hear one–I was lucky to actually see one.

Common loon swimming on Boomer Lake.

This particular loon is already starting to show it’s summer colors of having a black and white spotted back. They are on their way back to the northern part of the US and Canada for the summer—which is where their breeding grounds are.

What are some interesting facts about loons?

They have solid bones, which make them better at diving than other birds. They can dive quickly and swim fast underwater. They are also able to slow their heart rate underwater to conserve oxygen.

And then it dives away……..

The loon forages by swimming underwater, where their diet consists of mainly fish, but they also eat crustaceans, insects, leeches, frogs, and mollusks. They will supplement their diets occasionally with pondweeds and algae. Loons reach sexual maturity at about three years of age. Both will build the nest, which is usually near the water. They have usually two young a year.

The young start moving around the surround areas within a day or two of hatching, and can swim and dive by the third day. The young can be seen riding on their parents back during the first few weeks. They are able to fly about two and half to three months after hatching.

The young once they migrate to the coasts will stay there for about two years—during the third year they will migrate back north. Though they may not mate for several more years (three years is the minimum age—that is when they start to migrate back)—it is usually still another year or so before they might take a mate.

These majestic birds will probably lose some of their habitat (namely in the north, where they have their breeding areas) to climate change, and their numbers could start decreasing.

The oldest recorded common loon was a female that was banded in Michigan in 1989, and spotted again in Michigan 2016—making her at least a little under thirty years old when spotted.




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Gull Fishing: Photography Challenge Day 31

So with today’s photography challenge, there is actually going to be little said (as the old saying goes–a photograph is worth a thousand words). I think that most of the pictures can speak for themselves. These photos are again from my walk over the weekend. I managed to be in the correct spot at the right time to film this particular gull.

Still hungry…….
Going in for lunch…..
I’ll show it who’s boss…
Need to circle another time…that isn’t the fish I want….
There it is……
One more time around….
I think I caught it..
Where did it go?

And it’s back pretending that nothing happened.

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Sightings of the neotropic cormorant: Photography Challenge Day 29

So today’s photographs are from the weekend walk up at Boomer Lake. It was the first time that I was actually able to get some good pictures of some of the migrating birds. One thing that I had on my “bird bucket list” was to get a good picture of the cormorant. I had thought it was the double-crested cormorant for awhile, but according to the weekend paper, it has actually been the neotropic cormorant that I’d been seeing.

Neotropic Cormorant perched on a dead log in Boomer Lake.

So what are some interesting facts?

They can sit low in the water like a loon (I’ve mistaken a cormorant swimming for a loon several times this winter. I only knew the difference when they took off into flight).

Group of neotropic cormorants swimming in Boomer Lake

They can be found sitting in trees (I was amazed when I saw them in the trees the first time this winter—I don’t usually associate aquatic birds with sitting in trees; even though I’ve seen the great blue heron fly up into the trees as well).

Neotropic Cormorants sitting in a tree…….

They eat mainly small fish, which they catch underwater. Though they can also eat tadpoles, frogs, and aquatic insects.

This is the only cormorant species know to plunge-dive to catch fish. It isn’t very successful as it only catches 1 in every 6-10 plunges (and it only plunges from less than 2 feet over the water).

During mating season, they have a clutch of 3-4 eggs (on average). The young are able to swim and dive by two months, stay with the parents for another three weeks and then are independent by three months. The nests of the birds (as they are a colony bird) are usually in trees or bushes (either live or dead), and if they’re on an island the nests could be on the ground (if there are no suitable trees or bushes).




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Science Sunday and Photography Challenge Day 28: Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Today’s science Sunday post is the Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). These birds have been migrating through the neighborhood on their way back up to the northern part of the United States and Canada.

They are social birds that are usually always seen in flocks. Personally when I was taking the picture, I thought it might have been a nuthatch since it was a single bird in the shade. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the pictures, and realized that it was a cedar waxwing instead.

Their coloring is usually a pale brown head and chest, which fades to a gray color on the wings (there is also a red tips on the wings—but can be hard to notice when they’re perched in large groups). The tail has a bright yellow tip to top off the dark gray color, and the belly is a pale yellow. They also have a black eye patch, and a tuft that may or may not be laying flat against their head.

Their diets consist of mainly berries and insects (they’ve been going after the one large holly “tree” in our front yard over the past two weeks or so). During the summer they feed more on insects, and the young are fed insects more than berries in the beginning. Unlike other smaller birds, cedar waxwings don’t actually start nesting until late summer, and they nest in “colonies” (so that their territory to defend is relatively small). They usually have about two broods (usually 3-5 nestlings) a year, and the young usually leave the nest within two to two and half weeks after hatching.

Hopefully this week I can maybe manage to get a “group” photo of some of the cedar waxwings before they totally leave the state and continue their trek to the north.


  1. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cedar_Waxwing/id
  2. https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/cedar-waxwing
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