Tag: raptorphotography

Photography Challenge Day 194: The red-shouldered hawk flying away (a short post).

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the hawk that flew off in mid-shot, but I still managed to get two decent pictures of it in flight.

Red-shouldered hawk in flight

I’m pretty sure that this is the red-shouldered hawk and not the red-tailed hawk, due to the red on the breast as it was flying past me.

Red-shouldered hawk flying into the trees

I’m wondering if I interrupted this one while it was hunting—as I had noticed it sitting on top of a light post, but when I got close to get it’s picture—it flew off towards some trees. I followed, but I didn’t notice the exact limb that it had landed on, so I continued on my walk to see what other birds I could spot.

They are hunters, and their prey ranges from small mammals to reptiles and amphibians. Though they have been seen to also eat other birds (including young owlets, sparrows, and doves).

They’re year round residents of the area, so I will be keeping an eye out for them on my walks to see if I can spot them in trees, on light posts, or just flying through the area.

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Photography Challenge day 187 goes to the birds

The winners of today’s photography challenge are the birds. I managed to get candid pictures of several different birds over the weekend.

For starters—there is the nuthatch that was feeding on the suet feeder. While I managed to get several good pictures—the one I like the most is the one of it with a sunflower seed in it’s beak. It then quickly flew off to the trees to crack the seed and eat it.

Nuthatch with it’s prize–a sunflower seed.

The next one is a hummingbird that was sitting in the crepe myrtles by the feeder. I was calling it the “goth” hummingbird. The main reason, is it was so cloudy I couldn’t tell for certain if it was a male ruby-throated hummingbird or maybe a male black-chinned hummingbird migrating through. Though this is the first time I’ve seen one where the entire head looked black.

Male hummingbird in the crepe myrtle.

This one was around all weekend–I’m thinking that now anytime I see a male hummingbird that I can’t identify, I’m going to be calling them the “goth” hummingbirds.

Egret surveying it’s surroundings.

Several egrets have landed in the area before heading further south. I think that they wait until they have a good number in the flock before they continue on their journey. I saw three of them this weekend in different parts of the lake. I know from my late-winter/early-spring walks there can be upwards of a good fifteen or twenty of them flocking together. So it will be interesting to see how many more show up before they all head south for the winter.

Young Mississippi kite taking a break from hunting.

So there were numerous Mississippi kites up at the lake this weekend. Usually I would only see maybe one or two off in the distance hunting–but this weekend I would swear I saw a good two dozen kites throughout the area. There was this young one sitting in the tree, taking a break from hunting dragonflies and other insects.

Mississippi kite sitting on a dead tree, surveying the area

Then I saw this one across the street, sitting and watching another portion of the lake for dragonflies and other flying insects. Since it is getting close to the time that they will start heading south–the youngsters are out hunting, instead of sitting near the nest waiting on mom and dad to bring back dead insects for them to eat.

Hopefully this coming weekend, I will be able to get a couple more pictures of them before they head south for the winter. It will also be interesting to see how many of them come back to the area in the spring.

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Photography Challenge Double Day (181-182) Winner: the red-shouldered hawk

The winner of the double photography challenge (yesterday and today) is the red-shouldered hawk. Today was one of those days when I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on my morning walk or not—while it wasn’t that warm yet, there was already a heat index—but I decided to do a short walk if nothing else. I’m glad I did, or I would have missed seeing this magnificent creature this morning.

Red-shouldered hawk swooping in to land.

I was following my normal path when I noticed a hawk fly up into a pine tree on the other side of the street, I followed hoping to get at least one semi-decent picture of the hawk before possibly scaring it off.

I think someone wanted to be left alone to snack….

I managed to get a couple of pictures (none worthy of sharing) before it flew to another tree—I followed and managed to get several others before it flew off to another part of the park to hunt.

Some interesting facts about red-shouldered hawks:

They return to the same nesting territory year after year.

It’s eating something……

They’ve been known to turn the tables on great horned owls and steal their young from the nests (nestlings of any large bird are known prey of great horned owls) to eat.

I think it’s still hungry……

They can team up with crows to chase owls out of the territory.

Also I think it was tired of getting it’s picture taken……….

These birds are found year round in this part of Oklahoma, and I didn’t realize that there are four other subspecies of red-shouldered hawks—three others found in the eastern parts of the country and then the fifth one is out in California (and they really aren’t seen in any of the states in between California and eastern Oklahoma/Texas and then eastwards).

I know that area also has red-tailed hawks, and broad-shoulder hawks as well. I’m going to try to keep my eye (and camera) on the look out for them as well as we head into the fall and winter months.

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Photography Challenge Day 163: The surprising turkey vulture

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the turkey vulture.

When I was on my morning walk this weekend, I noticed that a large raptor sitting at the top of a dead tree limb. After I got closer, I realized it was actually a turkey vulture and not a hawk or an eagle.

Turkey Vulture sitting in a tree…..

This is the first time that I’ve seen a turkey vulture sitting in a tree, for a prolong period of time—I’ve seen them soaring in the sky, I’ve seen them perched on fence posts (near a kill), but I’ve rarely seen them just sitting.

This one was just chilling out—though I think it was waiting on other vultures to show up so that there would be several of them soaring through the air. Now that I think about it—while you might see one vulture soaring through the sky, there is usually another one or two off in the distance also soaring, they’re usually in groups of two or three, seldom are they alone.

Turkey Vulture spreading it’s wings…

It’s also nice to know that it is the turkey vulture that I’ve been seeing and not the black vulture. When they’re overhead (and by usually thirty to forty feet above you minimum), it’s hard to tell the color of the head (and that is the only way to tell the two vultures apart).

Looking to see if anything looks good to eat…….

This one also seems to be wondering why I’m staring up at it, like I’ve never seen a turkey vulture up close before. Now when I go on my morning walks, I’m going to have to look towards this particular tree to see if there are any vultures just sitting around and chilling in the morning sun.

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Photography Challenge Day 162: The Mississippi Kite

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the Mississippi kite. I’ve been lucky the past couple of days of seeing them sitting on the utility wires watching for insects to pass by, before they swoop in for the kill.

Mississippi Kite launching from the wire

These are migratory raptors, that breed in either the southeastern part of the country (Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and parts of southeastern Arkansas), plus the parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. We usually see them as they sail through the sky (usually just over the tops of trees), but every so often I can catch a glimpse of them sitting in trees or on wires.

It’s snack is grasped in one foot.

Last year I managed to get some really closeup pictures of them in the park. So far this year, my seeing them has been at a distance but I’ve still managed to get some good pictures.

It is eating it’s snack

This one I managed to catch it as it was launching into flight to grab it’s morning snack out of the air.

Then it returned to it’s perch to eat—and I’m pretty sure it probably caught a dragonfly (or a damselfly).

I’m still hungry…..

Then it neatly turned around to continue watching for more dragonflies or other insects to fly past, because I think it was still hungry.

Come fall these majestic birds will fly all the way to South America for the winter. One of the most unique things about these birds–they incorporate wasp nests into either their nests or the choice of where their nests go. The presence of a wasp nest will usually help deter any climbing predators away from the nest. They also can peacefully nest near other birds such as mockingbirds and blue jays (both of which are territorial–so it’s three for the price of one in terms of nest protection).

While I couldn’t get close to this kite, I’m pretty sure it’s still an adult (or at least a yearling)–while it would be cool to get a picture of a fledgling, I’m not going to risk getting dive bombed by either the parents or angry mockingbirds and blue jays. Adults and yearlings are the way to go for a good photograph.

I’m thinking that the theme for this coming week is sitting on a wire or gliding through the air.

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The turkey vultures were soaring today: photography challenge day 74

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the turkey vulture. While I was on my walk this weekend, there were quite a few that were soaring overhead and I actually managed to get a couple of decent pictures of at least two of them.

One of the turkey vultures just soaring in the afternoon sky.

Since turkey vultures are scavengers, they can be seen soaring overhead in the suburbs, out in the country over farm fields and even around different areas such as landfills, construction site and even trash heaps. They’re early risers, they will roost together in large numbers on telephone poles, towers, fence posts, and dead trees. I might have to try taking a walk near dusk and see if I can spot any roosting around the neighborhood (as we live close enough to some farm land) in the evenings.

You can actually make out the red head of the vulture…

One weird fact for the turkey vulture—it can be found in part of the state (Oklahoma) year-round, and then other part of the state only during the spring-fall months (basically the breeding season). We’re in the part of the state that only sees them from spring to fall.

I wonder what they’re smelling….

Another interesting little fact—they try to ensure that their nests are isolated and away from any potential human contact. They will nest in caves, abandoned bird nests (namely hawks and herons), and even abandoned buildings. They also only have partial nests (they never actually finish building the nest).

While they currently aren’t listed as an endangered species they do face some threats from humans that impact their numbers. At times they do fall victim to lead poisoning (due to eating carcasses of animals that were shot by hunters but got away from the hunters), also victim to poisoning (if they eat the carcass of an animal that had been poisoned by humans). Also they have been trapped and killed due to the misconception that they spread disease by eating rotting meat.

Reference:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Turkey_Vulture/overview

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Turkey_Vulture/lifehistory

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