What’s In A Name? Respect For The Bird Or Vanity Of Its Late-coming Discoverer?

Olive-backed Thrush aka Salmonberry Bird aka Swainson's Thrush

In field guides, this species is listed as Swainson’s Thrush, with a note that they are often called Olive-backed. And a case can be made for Salmonberry Bird, at least for the population on the NW coast of the U.S. and the coast of Canada’s Inland Passage. I’m going with Olive-backed because it could be […]

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PUFFER JACKETS: A CASE OF BIOMICRY?

Male Pine Warbler Puffed Up In Cold Rain

When the cold fronts start moving through the South, the birdwatching web sites light up with posts from many new birders along the lines of: “Bless their hearts, are my poor little babies going to freeze to death?” The answers back are along the lines of: One way birds stay warm is by using their […]

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RED-TAILED HAWK: CLOSE QUARTERS PRECISION FLYING

I’ve seen it hundreds of times. A bird of prey that has been sitting quietly still and unnoticed deep in a tree canopy suddenly explodes into flight. Maneuvers through the branches and limbs of the treetops to take its prey. I’m awestruck every time. This Red-tailed Hawk hunting in our yard on two recent days […]

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RARE WINTER VISITOR TO OUR YARD: BALTIMORE ORIOLE

Female Baltimore Oriole. Or maybe immature male. Males don’t molt to their bright adult orange until their second year. This bird was visiting our yard in Decatur, Georgia which is deep inside metro-Atlanta on January 29th. I had to add Baltimore Oriole to my yard’s eBird checklist. And was lucky to have photos. They are […]

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PINE WARBLER: WINTER BRIGHT SPOT

Male Pine Warbler Puffed Up In Cold Rain

Pine Warblers live year round with us. They don’t head to the tropics in winter like their neotropical cousins. They are literally and figuratively a bright spot on drab, grey, winter days. Especially our days of ‘wintry mix’. What holds them here is their fondness for, guess what, pine nuts. Something we have a lot […]

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BLUE-HEADED VIREO: RAPTOR MINI-ME

Blue-headed Vireo Devouring A Bug

I like Vireos (& Shrikes). To me they are a raptor mini-me. All have stout bills. Many have hooked bills –‘tomial tooth’. Both perfect features to kill and dismember prey, including insects and for some of the ‘larger’ species (they are all small compared to the big guys) small birds, mammals and reptiles. It is […]

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WINTER VISITORS TO OUR YARD: RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS

Ruby-crowned Kinglet With Full View Of Ruby Crown

Pure energy packed into a tiny package. Ruby-crowned Kinglets are short-haul migrant winter visitors to our neighborhood. They only migrate to and from the U.S.’s south and northern Mexico to the upper regions of Canada. This is even more remarkable when you think about just how tiny they are: 3.5-4.3 in (9-11 cm), 0.2-0.3 oz […]

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THE OWLS HAVE IT

Barred Owl In Backlit Bright Yellow & Gold Autumn Maple Tree

To paraphrase Zac Brown, the It is “whatever It is that blows a viewer away”. Owls are just photogenic. For Barred Owls it really helps that they are more diurnal than their cousins so it’s possible to get shots in decent light. It also helps me that there is a pair that nests two houses […]

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CITY HAWKS

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk Urban Hunter Using Utility Pole For Kill

Things weren’t looking good for woodland hawks in the late 19th century and into the mid-20th century. The same old villains – habitat loss, hunting (killing), pesticides – were taking a heavy toll on hawk populations, as well as other birds of prey. In the 1960s and 70s state and federal legislation and regulation, such […]

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