The One We Missed

Posted Posted in Birds

We’re all still smiles remembering our hummingbird banding experience with Fred Bassett. The next time I went to my parents’ house, we went outside with cameras to try to spot our pink-headed birds. We didn’t see a pink head – but we definitely saw a hummer that Fred didn’t band. He was nectaring at a penta flower. I enjoyed this little series that shows how quick and flexible these birds are!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Close Encounter with the Whooping Cranes

Posted Posted in Other Places

It’s not often that you drive by a field and come upon two of the rarest birds in North America. When they are super-close and you can get head shots, it’s a really good day!

Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America. It is a cousin of our Sandhill Cranes. In the early 1900s, there were only 21-22 Whooping Cranes alive. Thanks to intense conservation efforts, there are around 600 Whooping Cranes alive today. Two of them like this particular field in Lake Wales. I saw them there a couple of years ago and they looked pretty much the same in 2020, even down to the broken radio transponders on their legs.

Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

Of course the birds were heavily backlit in this rare opportunity to be so close to them. The best light I could find was harsh side-light, which totally blew out their beautiful white feathers. Look at that gorgeous red head. I wonder if the birds realize how rare and special they are.

Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

Birding in my Parents’ Backyard

Posted Posted in Birds

On the day that Fred Bassett banded my mom’s hummingbirds, I spent a couple of hours with my parents birding in their backyard. It’s an awesome garden planted with all sorts of native plants to attract birds. It attracted a rainbow of feathered friends!

The Painted Buntings found my parents’ backyard several years ago. Each year another bird or two joins the party. My mom reported seeing four males together – that’s a beautiful sight!

Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting

A pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers darted in and out of this salvia plant. They are such fun to photograph as they flutter, pretending to be hummingbirds.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

When I least expected it, a flash of orange appeared at the bird bath. A Baltimore Oriole! He got a quick drink and disappeared as quickly as he arrived. It’s amazing how well he blends in to the barren trees.

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

The birdbath was a popular place. This Blue Jay fussed a lot before he sipped. Nearby, a Red-bellied Woodpecker and Gray Catbird both eyed the bath as they sampled from the suet feeder.

Blue Jay
Blue Jay

I looked up and spotted four American White Pelicans circling overhead. They like to roost on the lake across the street. The bump on the bird’s beak is part of its breeding plumage.

American White Pelican
American White Pelican

After Fred left, we watched for our newly-banded birds to nectar in the backyard. Since the bands are not easily visible while the birds are flying, we watched for the pink marks that Fred left on the back of the birds’ heads. This male Ruby-throated didn’t have a pink mark on the back of his head. So we missed at least one! ;-)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird