Back to the Backup - With the damage to my big lens, I was down but not out. I still have my original 50 - 500 mm backup lens which I have dusted off and put to good use. It still works well for obliging subjects like my feeder birds, and anything that doesn't mind my presence. Without a 1.4x converter, it is of limited use in the field, especially for the summer songbirds. However, it is a mixed blessing to slow down the birding as I should be able to make a reasonable dent in my list of chores. (The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Botanical Beach is mighty tempting.) With any luck, I hope to be back up to speed for the fall migration. The good news is that the lens is insured. I'm waiting to hear the bad news from the repair depot in Ontario.
Whoooo's Calling? - The highlight of the past week was a call from some local residents who have Saw-whet Owls nesting in one of their flicker boxes. I had never seen a Saw-whet before so I didn't hesitate to check it out. As expected, the box was well-shaded, but that didn't dampen my enthusiasm, and it didn't take long to fire off a hundred shots at the adult. I did the same when one of the nestlings poked its head out a couple of days later. Many thanks to the fine folks who were kind enough to share their natural treasure with me.
On the Road Again - After my almost 8,000 km Arizona road trip and with the current price of gas, I have been quite content to spend more time at home. My only trip of the week was to the North Island College where I had the pleasure of addressing the knowledgable and interested students of the Pro Photography Class. I'm sure they all know more about photgraphy than I do, but I think I was one step ahead of them in the bird department. Thanks for inviting me, Paul. My next four presentations include the Nanaimo, Comox Valley, and Victoria Probus Clubs and the Victoria Kayak Club.
Window Shots - I always enjoy watching my feeder birds, and took advantage of the sun and filtered sun for a couple of days window shooting. That's as close as I have ever come to using a blind, but I must admit, a blind is the best way to get those professional-looking full-frame shots. With the position of my feeders and window, my window of opportunity is ususally between 1 and 3 PM. That's not the best time of day for bird activity, but it'll have to do for now. My favorite shot was the pair of Band-tailed Pigeons, and just to show I don't always discriminate, I've included a pair of Cowbirds. My big miss was the Black-headed Grosbeak that only showed up twice but never when I was ready, and also the male Red Crossbill that I saw at the feeders for the first time ever this morning. My wish bird is the Cooper's Hawk that sometimes lands on my feeder pole.
As I mentioned, I had never seen a Northern Saw-whet and had no idea it nested on the Island. According to Sibley's we are well within its breeding range, but I don't imagine that they are very abundant.
The Saw-whets are about the size of a robin and have a distinctive white "Y" between and above the eyes.
Saw-whets usually nest in old woodpecker holes, but an appropriately sized nest box will also suffice.
The Saw-whets lay 5 - 6 eggs. It was difficult to tell how many nestlings were in this nest box. This one seemed to be the boldest. It was named "Gizmo."
The shy one in the box has different facial markings. I named it "Groucho."
Bonus Bird - While I was viewing the Saw-whets, a Red-breasted Sapsucker stopped for a visit.
Feeder Friends - I had a lot of fun observing and photographing my feeder birds this week. Talk about easy birding - just picture me sitting in a rocking chair with a glass of wine beside my camera which was propped on the window sill. It was a good thing that I only had about two hours of proper lighting or I could have easily wasted the whole day.
Tufted Woodpecker? - I don't know what happened to the poor Hairy, but he certainly a bad hair day.
Last year I only had one pair of Cowbirds. This year it's doubled. There are now two pairs.
Cowbirds are definitely not my favorite bird. They're just one step above the starlings. Has anyone ever figured out the role Cowbirds are supposed to play in Nature's scheme?
Yes, the Pine Siskins are plentiful this year. I've heard of the occasional birder who has taken down his feeders because of the Siskins, but I don't believe in depriving all the other birds because of one species. Don't forget, they're only making up for the past two years when they were very scarce.
Pine Siskins are quite obliging and an easy target for photography.
I am happy to see that my pair of Chipping Sparrows are back again this year.
I'm sure they nest around here. I'll keep my eyes peeled for the juveniles.
Purple Finches are quite abundant and my year-round regulars.
The Northern Flicker is another bird I get to enjoy throughout the year. The male (above) has the red malar and the female (below) has the brown malar.
Here's an irregular regular. It always spends some time around here but disappears for entended peiods of time.
Oh yes, the Downey's are also regular customers. They like the seeds and the suet.
Happy Hummers - I saw my first juvenile Rufous yesterday (May 23). I expect there will be many more in the coming days. Meanwhile, I had to replenish my supply of bulrushes as some of the females are still taking the fluff. Harry, the dominant male has been MIA lately. I wonder if he has another harem somewhere. That's good news for the girls as they have their choice of which feeder to use.
Getting ready for a tongue-lashing ...
What did I tell you? Want some more?
There's a lot more if you can take it.
How's this for a full display of the fancy feathers?
Junco Time - It's always Junco time around here especially with a bunch of juveniles hanging around. I usually see them under the Rhodos and other plants foraging and waiting for Mom to bring a treat.
It was a treat for me to see one of the juveniles on my feeder branch waiting for you-know-what.
Right on schedule, Mom is there with the treat.
It sure looks good whatever it is.
I counted 16 Band-taileds today. They are extremely shy. They sit in the tallest trees waiting patiently until no one's around before they fly down.
It's difficult to get an interesting composition with just one bird. It works much better with two birds. That's it for my feeder shots. I already mentioned missing the Black-headed Grosbeak and Red Crossbill. Other birds left out include the Red-breasted Nuthatch, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Spotted Towhee.
Classy Cassin's - The Cassin's always gets my attention. I love hearing its bold, rich voice emanating from the trees around my yard.
Legacy Visit - Since I missed a photo of the Black-headed Grosbeak at my feeders, I decided to stop at Legacy Marsh where they are quite common. To prove my point, the first bird I saw was a Black-headed Grosbeak. In fact, there were two of them - both males. The first time I visited legacy 5 years ago, I saw a male and female. I haven't seen a female since then.
Yellow Warblers were common at Legacy. I consider the prettiest of our Island Warblers. (That's what it takes to make a cover photo!) How's this for my closing shot?
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