Here goes for my pictures. Do you know what? They are ALL of birds. HAHAHAhaha! Foiled again! You thought I'd do a post not about birds (probably you had a sneaking suspicion it would be about birds).
(When I show folks like Josiah and Anna bird pictures they're like, 'Oh birds' and 'Can't you show me any people?' )
Here is a 2008 rendition of the Numenorean Kirinki. They are mentioned in A Description of the Island of Numenor in Unfinished Tales by JRR Tolkien. A classic example of how natural extinction can occur when a species exists only in one location and is confronted by a natural disaster. Well, it wasn't exactly natural, but close enough.
A 2009 Nature Journal/Sketchbook page features astoundingly un-astute remarks on identifying Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks! Before I'd heard of using their flight style and wingbeats and head size to tell them apart! To think I had such a terrible time...
2010 was also the year of The Owl Box. I used to watch Molly the Owl all the day long and half the night and drew barn owls daily. Those were the days. This is a pastel of Wesley, youngest owlet of the first clutch. She was the last left in the box when everyone else fledged.
Undated studies of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in watercolour. The top right one looks really weird. But the bottom one was a successful depiction of how the bird frequently flicks its wings as it forages.
Unhatched eggs make great pillows and props to hold up one's heavy head.
A page from my sketchbook- birds labeled with their Latin names written in elvish letters. A great pastime for LotR-minded birders.
March 2012: An American Robin on Heather. A commission. There could be several explanations for why an American bird is on an Over-the-Pond plant. Heather has been introduced I-don't-remember-where in this country. Or it could be a vagrant robin flown over the sea, in which case all the birdwatchers of England are probably hiding in the heather with their spotting scopes gaping at it with delight.
Here's an ATC from May depicting baby Whooping Cranes!!! They're drawn from pictures on Operation Migration. It has actually turned out, though, that #9-12 was dropped from the class.
Another ATC in graphite of the great and famous Konrad Lorenz with his long string of goslings. They think he's their ma. 'Quag geggeggeggeg' et cet'ra.
Just the other day I carved a rubber stamp of a fledgeling robin. It is mildly alarming to see rows of the same bird with their mouths wide open begging. I need to make a worm stamp to feed them all.
THE END. Are you tired of bird art? Don't worry, Anna's post shd. bring a change.
I'm joining Elisa for a Nature Walk.
Yesterday I began in the yard...
The bluebirds have fledged and it was the most strange and dismal fledge-day I've ever known, but at any rate, here is one of the babies hiding and looking sweet.
I checked on the Tree Swallows' six eggs, almost due to hatch.
I next went across the street to look for more baby blues. Late spring is full of the songs of the summer birds. Orioles and Buntings and Towhees were singing. And crows were hard at work building a nest; I ended up sitting for several hours on a hill of dirt watching birds and other things.
Last weekend a couple of us made a 'monument' in one of the empty lots, a small tower of stones. So it turns out, it is excellent for attracting butterflies. Here is a Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis).
The bluebirds did have another baby hidden in a honeysuckle bush, into which they would frequently fly, arousing the dim clamor of a hungry fledgeling. They then would return to their favorite bug-hunting perch and look at me.
-Everybody take advantage & look at the difference between the Buteo hawk (Red-tail) and the Accipiter (Cooper's)! The Buteo is short and stout. The Accipiter is long and thin.-
Presently out came a happy little family of greedy groundhogs. The mother caught sight of me over a big leaf and sent the little ones packing. They appeared again eventually though and had a large luncheon.
I also saw Indigo Buntings, Yellowthroats, a Palm Warbler, catbirds aplenty, a Green Heron, Field Sparrows, etc. It is the time of year here when every other bird is a catbird, but every other bird could be anything (Empty lots are really something).
Thanks to the hostess of the day!
Posted by Lydia
The five bluebird babies are all doing just dandy- eyes are wide open and pinfeathers have poked their way out. The mouths are huge. A bump against the birdhouse pole or a wiggling finger above them sets them screaming and makes their long necks come reaching up as high as they can! (See the hole right below the eye on the bird on the left? That's his ear.)
This one of the smaller babies got shoved to the edge of the nest with an arm and a leg hanging out. He flapped his way back in, displaying his three rows of blue pins. The new feathers are starting to come out in little white tufts.
As you can see, the feathers don't sprout all over. Rather they grow from patches and when they are full-grown will be fluffy enough to cover the whole bird.
I love baby bluebirds.
Around 5:30 p.m., April 17. After thirteen days of incubation, it was late afternoon of the day before the hatching-day. One or two of the five eggs in our bluebird box showed the faintest dent.
6:38 Number One is looking bigger and fluffier, Two has just gotten out and is very weak. Three can be seen through his pipping hole; the smallest of peeps come from inside the egg. Note One's egg tooth in fine view.
7:00 Twenty-two minutes later, Three struggles to escape the shell, hindered by the continual flopping of One's head onto his neck. Whistling a soft note causes One and Two to gape blindly, not yet knowing what their mother really sounds like.
7:28 Finally Three has bungled his way to the top. The last two eggs have more cracking than before, but no holes yet.
Enough! No more sending Pa bluebird flying from his lookout in consternation today, or making Ma bluebird circle in a frenzy of chattering above my head. Dark will set in soon. Maybe another hatch-day tomorrow...
Update: April 19th, 9:55 a.m. All five are out of the egg and piled up in the bottom of the nest!
The newest is in front with his down in damp strings.
The geese are coming north. We heard them clamoring from ways off and watched them come flying over the house one flock and then another.
They break formation and fly in a mass and reform and rebreak. Some of the geese from one flock joined the other and sometimes there were four flocks.
One goose flew all the way from the one main group to the other and almost got lost on the way.
Past the house, the biggest flock strung out into a long line and then turned east and flew back and forth until by and by the others caught up; then they kept on going.
They took a long time to disappear.
posted by L.
Three Cheers! They have begun to arrive.
Look who is the most important one back from the lands of the radiant southern sun! None other than Cock-Robin.
The first of the season, he showed up on Thursday. First confirmed sighting all winter - Just to hear one "CHEEP squawk-squawk" was terribly exciting. He has not been seen since, but doubtless more robins are on the way.
There were plenty of other birds around as well when that morning I went outside in the fine weather, and they were all springing about.
A good part of the strip of woods across the street was clamoring with noise of bluebirds calling and chattering. Three came into our yard.
Two females were chasing a bright blue male all about and he inspected at least three houses with his favoured acquaintance. Observe the 'wing-waving'. It's a display the blues use when checking out nesting places and when saying 'hello, dearest' to their mates (bluebirds are very sophisticated - they never say 'Hey, Sweetie!' like the chickadees). Evidence of Spring.
These two don't want Other Bluebird to hang about too much and chase her off. But in the neighbors' yard were three or four more bluebirds. If we could only get two pairs in the yard, that would be dandy!
On Wednesday, Mother discovered a Killdeer was back. I saw three flying and crying in the sky.
Also the Grackles are in town once again, and the Blackbirds are coming in too.
The other day, the Song Sparrow was foraging while uttering unfamiliar calls, 'chuckling', and singing snatches of his tune to himself. Funny. But these days he's singing from the treetops very loudly, as are many other birds. Oh, and there were two House Finches singing in two trees. The one with much duller red coloring was singing a far longer and more complicated song. If they are rivals, which will win- the brightest or the most musical?
Well- so the birds are back at last. And nesting season is just around the corner... Huzzah!
posted (obviously) by LGT
Now is the time for all good bird-watchers to come to the aid of their country...
Today begins the Great Backyard Bird Count. The GBBC is a yearly event in which folks count birds and tally them and then submit their checklists. The checklists pile up into a lot of useful data for scientists to study. With the cooperation of all the citizen-scientists/minions/bird counters they can find out what's up with birds all over the country without having to do all the work of observation themselves, which would be awfully complicated. F'r instance, they can find out if there is a shocking lack of something, or an unusual abundance, or a change in migration patterns, or whatever.
The GBBC lasts four days, this year Feb. 17-20. For however many of these days you want, you count the birds you see in your yard (or in your woods, or in your wildlife refuge, or in your Surrounding Countryside), and write down the highest number of the same species that you see at once. For Ex: If you see a dozen Juncos at once in the morning and six more in the afternoon, you only write down the dozen, that being the most you saw simultaneously. This is Scientific.
For every day you count and every different location you count in, you can submit a new checklist. The more the merrier. Now go, count ye the birds upon thy trees and upon thy feeders, and in the skies above and aid ye the ornithologists of the nation and thus their objects of study.
And don't forget to submit the checklists. For the past two years, I didn't try to submit mine until it was Too Late. Pathetic.
Now go! The birds around here at least are cooperating- a pair of the long-absent bluebirds even showed up and have been wing-waving and talking and CHECKING OUT THE BOXES!!!
In honor o' the day I present:
He or she is pictured in his or her fabulous newspaper nest!
Timothy Pij feels very honoured to be of an order that Columbus was named after. But he feels very embarrassed that he is not of a native species. It's a good thing this country wasn't named Columbia, because then a non-native species might be the national bird.
posted by Lydia Grace, naturally
This weekend was birds, birds, and more birds! October is one of those months in which you might find an exciting bird anywhere. Aside from all those thinking about migrating, trying to migrate, and those on the way south, the summer's nestlings have grown up, so more year-round birds are free to go gallivanting about.
On Saturday morning, we went out to the Dirt Mound across the street. We've been going there 'most every day for a while, in the hopes of seeing warblers stopping by.
That morning I believe I saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (probably), some common birds, and there were Cedar Waxwings flying around a ways off. One juvenile finally ventured close, and through the binocs I got a good look at him. He actually resembled a fledgling bluebird, which is what I first thought it to be. Rather blue-ish on the wings, and spotty on the front. The picture below is the only one I got, because some of our bunch of young bluebirds took a notion that they didn't like him and chased him all around town. Mean little kids.
Sunday morning was The Big Day for some long-legged birds: The Whooping Crane Class of 2011! These birds, as part of a reintroduction effort, have been being trained to migrate to a destination picked out by humans - by following an airplane of all things! This has been going on since 2001, but this is the first year I have watched it. So, this Sunday the cranes were supposed to begin their first flight on their migration! Only three out of ten made it to the first stop. Naughty, naughty cranes stayed behind. It perhaps does not count as birding, because we only watched it on the cranecam of the Operation Migration Team. If you go to their site, you can learn all about it...
I don't have any photographs, 'cause we live way too far from Wisconsin.
Sunday afternoon we went hawkwatching again, to see the peak of Sharpie season. Here are more pictures of migrating raptors:
This is a young Red-tailed Hawk; these and the other Buteos are coming on now. The Buteos are a genus of hawks with long, broad wings, as opposed to the Accipiters which are the short winged ones.
This Sharp-shinned Hawk is our demonstrative Accipiter:
The Accipiters were made to live in the forest and maneuver well amongst the trees - hence the short wings, and also the longer tails. The Accipiters also have a more flappy flight style than the long-soaring Buteos.
Just in case you were interested.
We also saw two Peregrine Falcons at the mountain, and they are just amazing. I don't know if we have a picture of the first, and of the second one, all we have is a shot of The Nose of a Peregrine. Oh, well. They fly very fast, of course.
Sunday night, 'round about ten o'clock, Josiah came a-walking downstairs saying he had heard an owl. Naturally, a bunch of us went out-of-doors and we presently got to see a Great Horned Owl in plain view on a branch. We were all filled with solemn joy (as the saying goes). It was calling to another unseen owl, presumably its mate. They called back and forth very many times. The terror of meadow voles!
It looks even more epic in the picture. Here is a whole flock of us gawking at it. The one with shoes is Mother.
Dad and Josiah got to taking pictures while shining a flashlight on the owl. (Bye the bye, the only picture in this whole post that I took was the first one.) Well, the flashlight showed off the owl's orangey plumage and gave it redeye. Every time it hooted, it leaned forward on its perch, making it look somewhat like a chicken. If it was a pair calling, I think this was the male, as its voice was higher in pitch. It flew off after a good long while.
And so we went to bed. And so ended the Weekend of Birding.*
*That is not to say I will not go birding all this week. Oh no, preciouss!
posted by Lydia Grace
"To me Hawk Mountain is like a fever. I catch it with the first touch of cool weather, and it keeps burning in me right up until December."
This quotation is from a letter mentioned in Hawks Aloft. I caught the 'Hawk Fever' way back in the middle of August, though. It is like the sea-longing of the elves, but for the mountains and the spectacle of the autumn migration of diurnal raptors.
For the third year now, we are visiting the raptor migration site near us, not Hawk Mountain, but something like it. Hundreds or sometimes thousands of raptors may be seen there in a day. This past Sunday we made our second trip of the year.
It is a gap on the Kitatinny Ridge, a flyway that migrating birds use, taking advantage of the updrafts it creates.
(We are some of them.)
(Jonathan sits and reads learned books amidst the epic scenery.)
One may get a sort of obsession with certain dark specks against the sky.
There are some migrant geese, warblers, et cetera. There are, more remarkably, hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies. The hummers streak by in a buzz and the Monarchs flutter slowly or glide.
It is amazing, or even bizarre, to see these seemingly fragile migrants fly on the mountain.
They use the same strong winds as birds a hundred times their size -they sail along the Kittatinny Ridge with the eagles and falcons.
The raptors- They appear Over the Top or Over the Big Dip or the Little Dip or the Single Silo (which we never can find), or Over the Pine. We try and make sense of the landmarks named by the observers and counters. Even the clouds serve as pointers to find the birds: They're in the white cloud... now comin' into the blue. The hawks are all named in the delightful Hawkcounters' terms: Balds, Tails, Shoulders, Wings, Accips, Coops... ah! pleasant fall language.
But then it might be a Coop, I am nearly hopeless at my Accipiters. Actually it could even be a Broad-wing. It's easier to identify them in real life sometimes.
The non-raptor Turkey Vultures are traditionally counted, later in the year when their migration starts. We saw just locals, lazily riding the thermals or the updrafts. They come very low over the ridge at times (and provide plenty of make-believe Nazgul for any who may want to fancy themselves on the Emyn Muil). We could see them swivel their queer heads to stare at the hawkwatchers, some of whom stare back.
The Broad-wings fly in kettles. In mid-September on the mountain, kettle after kettle of them appears 'over the top' circling and then streaming in long lines overhead. Every one of the little specks in a swarm that looks like a cloud of midges is really a Southbound hawk:
We are approaching the end of their season already, but it is incredible to see dozens, or even more than a hundred hawks above you at once, spiraling in the blue.
'Twas a glorious time! Yet to come are the majority of the Red-tails and the Red-shoulders. And the great Golden Eagles, the wind-lords.
It is a privilege indeed to live so near one of the main flyways. In the fall, day after day, month after month, year after year they pass.
posted by Lydia Grace