Tag: wildbirdphotography

Photography Challenge Day 115: Wild Bird Wednesday

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the wild turkey. It has been quite awhile since I’ve seen one in the area. This one was just chilling in someone’s front yard next to their bench. If it hadn’t moved it’s head, I would have almost thought that the family had put out an lawn ornament.

The turkey is back in the neighborhood

We have had turkeys through the neighborhood before (last time was probably about two years ago), when a group was going through someone’s front yard.

What are some cool facts about turkeys:

They’re able to swim—they just tuck in their wings, spread out their tail and start kicking.

They have a well known fossil record—fossils found in the southern US & Mexico have dated turkeys back about 5 million years.

Due to dwindling numbers in the early part of the twentieth century—birds were captured and released in different areas of the US to help repopulate those areas. Now they are found in all lower 48 states, plus Hawaii and parts of Canada.

There are only two domesticated birds native to the New World: the wild turkey & the Muscovy duck.

The domesticated turkey originated in Europe—after European explorers brought back wild turkeys from Mexico (where they’d been domesticated), and then when the English showed up on the East coast—they brought the domesticated turkey with them.

Reference:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Wild_Turkey/overview

I’ll be keeping an eye out for these guys this year–usually they really start coming through the neighborhood in the late summer/early fall. This one was obviously casing the neighborhood early.

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Photography Challenge Day 106: The (not so) elusive killdeer

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). I’d have missed seeing this guy if I hadn’t stopped to take the lens cap off the camera and wonder what race I was going to be dodging on my walk.

 This plump plover is one of the few shorebirds that doesn’t need to be near a beach (though I’ve always noticed them around Boomer Lake).

Killdeer in the park
Killdeer in the park

Their diet is mainly insects (beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers), but will also eat spiders, earthworms, centipedes, snails, and will even “fish” for crayfish.  They can be found in fields (which may or may not be near water), and will follow the farmers plowing the fields to eat the grubs that unearthed.

They usually have one brood a year (though in the south, it can be possibly two broods a year) that ranges from three to five young (average is four). Both parents will incubate the eggs, and this ranges almost a month (24 to 28 days). Depending on location, parents may soak in water before returning to the nest in order to help keep the eggs cool.

The young leave the nest within a day of hatching. While they stay with their parents, they are able to feed themselves. They are able to fly roughly three and a half weeks after hatching.

Some cool facts about killdeers include:

They got their name from their call, which is a shrill, wailing kill-deer. They are also known as the Chattering Plover & the Noisy Plover.

They use the broken-wing act to lead predators away from the nest. Though since they nest on the ground, they have to be weary of other animals potentially stepping on the nest—so they try to charge the larger animals to get them to change directions.

They are actually proficient swimmers (both adults and young).

Their nests are quite small and bare to begin with, but are added to after eggs are laid. There was one nest somewhere within Oklahoma, where people found over 1,500 pebbles adorning the nest.

They can live quite a long time—the oldest recorded Killdeer was at least 10 years & 11 months, when it was recaptured & then re-released in Kansas.

References:

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/killdeer

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

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Photography Challenge Day 98: The western kingbird

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the Western Kingbird.

Western Kingbird sitting in a tree…

The Western kingbird, is slightly smaller than the American Robin in size. The coloring of the Western Kingbird is a combination of gray (on the head and back), yellow (belly), white (chest and throat), and black (tail).

You can see the nice yellow belly of the kingbird.

They feed on a wide range of insects including bees, wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, flies, and even spiders (to name a few of their culinary choices). Depending on where they are, they may even supplement their diets with fruits such as elderberries, mulberries, and other small fruits.

It’s looking over its shoulder at something.

They winter in southern Mexico and Central America, migrate through Mexico, and spend the late spring through early fall in the western parts of the United States (including Oklahoma).

Kingbird on the wire….

When it comes to nesting and raising the young—the female will build the nest, but both parents will defend the nest and the tree it is located in (which consists of their main territory by the middle of breeding season). The female will incubate the eggs (usually 2-7) for not quite three weeks, and then both parents handle the feeding of the young. The young are usually able to leave the nest about two weeks after hatching. The biggest threat for kingbirds in terms of nestlings reaching maturity is predation—and this includes other animals such as snakes, squirrels, wordiest, and other birds that are able to get into the nest and kill (and eat) the young.

Now it’s looking over it’s other shoulder….

I would love to be able to get some pictures of fledgling kingbirds this summer—but I don’t wander the park enough to even begin to guess where they could have their nests. I’m also not in the mood to possibly irritate a couple of birds that have no problem dive bombing larger birds to scare them off. I’ll just have to keep searching the sky to see if maybe I can spot one sitting on a branch somewhere later this summer.

References:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Western_Kingbird/lifehistory
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/western-kingbird

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Photography Challenge Day 86: Cormorant taking flight

Today’s post is probably going to be a little on the short side–I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

So while I was on my walk Sunday, I noticed that there was still at least one cormorant that was still either hanging around, or passing through town.

So either there is a cormorant that has decided to stay in town, or one that is taking it’s merry time migrating.

Though if it’s passing through town, it’s taking its time migrating–since it is basically mid May already.

Obviously it was tired of getting it’s picture taken

This was one of the first times that I saw one starting to run across the water to gain the traction they need to launch into the air.

It almost looks like a gargoyle.

I wonder if people got ideas for gargoyles from watching certain birds take off from the water.

And then it flew off.

Will have to see if I can spot any at the lake this coming weekend, or if they’re migrated on already.

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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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