Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - California Least Terns

I've posted previously about one of our local beach bird species that is on the endangered list due to loss of dune habitat - the Western Snowy Plover.  Sadly, though, that is not the only species affected.  The California Least Tern also utilizes the rapidly-disappearing dune habitat for nesting and is similarly threatened.   The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and nearby Bolsa Chica state beach have both set aside protected nesting areas for the Terns and Plovers.

After watching the adult birds fly back and forth diving for fish during breeding season, I was lucky enough to witness the successful results below as a Least Tern fledgling waited for its parent to bring it a meal...except it wasn't quite ready for the meal it got...

Here's the fledgling, patiently waiting to be fed.


Parent shows up with a fresh-caught, delicious fish...
However, like many children, this kid is a picky eater and loudly protests not receiving any more "pre-digested" fish...

The parent bird continues to patiently offer the fish...

...but Junior is having none of it and continues to squawk.

Junior eventually turns his back and walks away...

...in fact, he takes his first short flight in attempt to get out of eating fish for dinner.

He only makes it a few feet away...

...but poor Mom or Dad is left behind...still holding the now much-less-fresh fish.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday: Costa's Hummingbird

Love getting to travel outside of my normal stomping grounds to see different birds.  Last fall, I had a work conference in Palm Desert and since the last session ended at mid-day, I was able to sneak in a visit to The Living Desert - one of the best small zoos I've ever been to.  Seriously, it is WELL worth it if you are in the area to stop by.  Not expensive and in addition to all the exotic zoo animals, the place is a mecca for wild hummingbirds of all varieties. 

One type that I don't get to see near my home on the coast is the Costa's Hummingbird, but they were sure putting on a show during my time at the zoo.  I think I spent more time photographing them than I did looking at the giraffes, cheetahs, etc.

This is a young male - his purple throat feathers are just starting to come in.

The energy output of a hummingbird is truly astounding to watch.  No wonder this little guy is trying to catch a few ZZZs...
This mature male has the full complement of purple head feathers.  I just couldn't get the right angle of light to make them all appear, but you can see a few.  There's an amazing hummingbird documentary on PBS that shows how these birds use these feathers in mating displays.  The head and throat feathers flare out and make it look like the bird's entire head is a glistening purple flower as he hovers in front of a female. 

Here are few more looks at this pretty little bird.
Does anyone else ever silently chant in their heads "C'mon, just look over here" while photographing birds?  Or is it just me?

Because...sometimes it works!!  Finally got him to turn and show off those gorgeous feathers!
If it works...you can't call me crazy, right?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Wild Bird Wednesday - Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

I was introduced to this sweet little bird last fall when I caught a quick flash of blue out of the corner of my eye.  Realizing it was too small to be either of our other local "blue" birds (Western Bluebird or California Scrub Jay),  I thought I might be on to something new.  Once I got home and compared the photos to my birding guide...yep, new bird for me:  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

They are more blue than our endangered California Gnatcatcher (still hoping to see one of those!) and have that distinct white eye-ring.

He was definitely keeping an eye out for the local Cooper's Hawk who flew over while I was taking these photos.

Such a pretty little bird.
And feisty, too!
Woops!  Gotta watch out for that hawk again!

These little guys are back in town now that it's fall again, but I have yet to get shots any nicer than these from last year.  I must've had a little bit of beginner's luck going!