Monday, October 29, 2012

The Dark Side

Yellow Headed Blackbirds
Just how many black birds are out there??!!!!  Well on this day with Kathie, we'd discover every type of black bird and then some at Lakeside Park!!!!  There were some incredible surprises in the mix as well....rarities.  I love my birding buddy.  She's not only a cool person, but I now miss her when I'm birding alone.  Birding anytime is great but it's better when we work together as today would prove.
Great Tailed Grackles
And of course there were those that stood out from the "black feathers" only club.  But Kathie's careful eye discovered Cowbirds!!!  She was in awe and when it's something big, she says things like, "Oh my gosh Chris.  Oh my gosh! That's a...."  And we both get excited over the discovery.  
First, she documents and by the time she gets that camera ready, they've taken off on her. Birds are fast so I usually snap the shot and ID later.
Mallards landing
Now to be honest, blackbirds or sparrows scare me and can be difficult to ID. Or maybe it's just in my mind.  But they are birds and they are cool.  I just don't know why I feel that way because the blackbirds are incredibly interesting behavior wise.
American Coots
But inevitably, my eye is attracted to the raptor sitting in the tree.  I'm fascinated by them. Or how the above Coots gathered in a big group to have breakfast.
Red Tailed Hawk
But something captured both Kathie and my eyes.  Yellow.  WTH?!  There were two yellow headed blackbirds on the grass!  If you've ever tried taking shots of these birds, you know how difficult it is to get them on camera as they like to hang out in the reeds around water areas.  But here out in the open, there were TWO Yellow Headed Blackbirds.  And these birds do grab my attention and it was one of the many personal thrills for this day. The Vermilion Flycatchers and Herons being the other exciting finds...
But this sequence here of shennagins really got me excited and was thrilling to get on the camera.
Like hummingbirds, there was a pecking order and someone crossed the was the female Grackle.
What a ^%&#!  She had to get her bill into the fold but thankfully the two young ones stood their ground......until 2 Kestrels presented themselves up in the airwaves and then all hell broke loose.  Everyone and their mother goose got up and flew the coup!
Well except for this cute adorable little White Crowned Sparrow.  They're back!
White Crowned Sparrow
The shot below of the Cowbirds REALLY got Kathie jumping up and down.  Luckily I was able to capture the two together.  It's important to note that they are two completely different Cowbirds hanging out on the same branch.   The trees were full of Brewer's, Grackles, etc etc.  And these two were cleverly disguised in the mix. And while the Bronzed Cowbird wasn't a lifer for me, the Brown Headed Cowbird was.  It was an unusual find in Tucson.  I saw my first Cowbird in Madera Canyon.
Male Bronzed Cowbird and a Brown Headed Cowbird
Kathie told me that this would happen.  She said that many times there are different birds hiding in the mix.  But my eyes were pulled to the Vermilion Flycatchers, Egrets, Herons, Raptors, Hummingbirds, etc etc.
And lately the Warblers have grabbed my full attention.  Coming up, I'll present several from my Portal visit. It was a fun day, as always, with Kathie.  But most importantly, I learned the very important lesson of looking closer.  Not everything is as it appears.  And then I joined the Dark Side of the force:) And it's appropriate.  Kathie would be the Emperor and I would play her henchman Darth Vader.  That Yellow Rumped Warbler never had a chance:)  More tomorrow.....
Yellow Rumped Warbler


  1. Your excitement is contagious, as must be Kathie's. I too photograph first and ID second on many. I seem to See more raptors than I capture with the camera, quite frequently I'm driving. That series of the blackbirds and grackle are an awesome action sighting.

  2. Such neat photos. I saw one the other day in a parking lot that was flying around -- big black - which I thought was a crow like in Flagstaff. But what would they be doing here? He was a screamer, also.

  3. What a wonderful birding trip and how well your excitement comes across :) I really like the hawk picture and the sequence set of photos is brilliant! Well done on another "lifer"!

  4. Great stuff Chris! Sweet read and great photos. Y'all are killin' it down there :)

  5. we get tons of brown-headed here. but i think they're beautiful birds (although they eat us out of house and home all winter long). i am SO jealous on the yellow-heads! ugh!

  6. wow, amazing shots chris!
    i can sure FEEL your's nice that you have a bird-buddy...a nature-buddy, to go wandering with. an extra pair of eyes to gaze around so you 2 won't miss a thing!

    hey...that WIDGEON?? ummm, a cross between...a pigeon...and a what?! (just kidding...i think...)

  7. You have captured some interesting antics of these feathered critters.

  8. What a trip! Such great series of bird photos! Love it!

  9. Great post, Chris! The excitement is contagious....may the force be with you and Kathie both! ;-)

  10. You show us always so many nice birds Chris....thanks.

    greetings, Joop

  11. I'm very envious of all those species you see there Chris, but even more envious of the lovely sunshine you get!

  12. You and Kathie got some great photos Chris!

  13. Great group of birds --many of which I have never seen. Never have seen a Yellow-headed Blackbird...

    We have brown-headed Cowbirds here... Glad you saw one... He's out of his territory, isn't he?

    Thanks for sharing...

  14. You caught some pretty cool action there... and the Hawk is extraordinary.

  15. you two make great birder
    pals ....I am a bit jealous of all your spottings
    ...what a team

  16. I'm so glad this post is about dark colored birds and not something nefarious. Cowbirds are parasitic. :( I see them occasionally here. I love the pix of the yellow headed black bird. I saw one once when I lived in North Dakota. It was migrating and stopped at our feeder.

  17. Chris, do you know how much you are talked about? :-) Magpie and I went out yesterday and laughed at how boring our trips are compared to yours. Though I think we saw a Ladderback or Hairy Woodpecker which was new for us. Hopefully Magpie will post a photo. Oh and I think we say Bigfoot. :-) -tracy

    1. HI Tracy!!! I talk about you guys a lot as well:) I'm looking forward to meeting you at some point and it'll be so much fun. I've become addicted to the journey on this stupid midlife crisis of mine.....although it's not has changed me and I don't know what's happening.....I just know that I must pursue this thing that is happening.

      It has been a crazy weekend/Monday. I'm hoping to be back on blogger tomorrow again. It has been busy busy busy here...I need a day to sleep:) Hope you both are well....and just so you know, that Batman shirt is one of my favorites to wear:)

  18. U was jest jak w ptasim raju, można zobaczyć tyle cudnych ptaków, nawet wróbelka, który jest i u nas. Pozdrawiam.
    In you is like a bird of paradise, you can see so many marvelous birds, even a sparrow, which is in our country. Yours.

  19. Bonitas e interesantes especies desconocidas para mi. Enhorabuena..

  20. You are so funny and entertaining! I'm so glad you've found a kindred spirit in your friend, Kathie. Friends just make life nicer all the way around.

    I'm trying to catch up with all your posts I've been missing.

  21. Yellow headed blackbirds!!!!! WOWZERS!


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