Friday’s Feathered Friends-Western Kingbird

Copyright ©2022 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While out for good long walk along the river recently I spied a Spring/ Summer visitor perched on a fence. The Western Kingbird. They’re one of the birds with lovely yellow in their coloring that visit here.

I think they’re so cheery with their bright yellow feathers, and gray heads.

They are in the Flycatcher family that hunts flying insects from its perch on a fence, trees, or utility wires.

They’re also famous for chasing and scolding intruders like Red-tailed Hawks, and American Kestrels.

Fun Facts gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

  • The Western Kingbird’s breeding range has been spreading for the last century as an unplanned result of human activities. By planting trees and installing utility poles in open areas, people have provided hunting perches and nest sites, and by clearing forests they have created open habitats suitable for foraging.
  • Though known as birds of the West, Western Kingbirds tend to wander during fall migration. They show up along the East Coast, between Florida and Newfoundland, every autumn—but only rarely during the spring. In 1915 Western Kingbirds began spending winters in Florida, where they are now regular winter residents.
  • Western Kingbirds aggressively fend off predators and other kingbirds from their territories. The males warn off intruders with harsh buzzes or whirring wings. Both males and females snap their bills and raise their red crowns (normally hidden under gray feathers on their heads) when provoked. As the breeding season wears on, each pair defends a smaller and smaller territory. By mid-incubation time the territory includes the nest tree and little else.
  • The Western Kingbird was originally known as the Arkansas Kingbird, but scientists changed its name to acknowledge its wide range across western North America.
  • The oldest Western Kingbird on record was a male, and at least 6 years, 11 months old, when he was found in South Dakota. ~allaboutbirds.org

We’ve been having big, strong winds lately so my sinus’ are a bit of a mess, but we’re looking at nice sunny days for the week-end here and hopefully the wind mellows out too.

I’ve been thinking about photographing the upcoming Lunar Eclipse. I won’t be able to see the entire thing from start to finish, but I’ll be able to see Totality. I’ll probably just photograph it from my yard. What about you, are you planning to watch it or photograph it?

I hope you all have a lovely week-end, and to all the Mom’s and Grandmother’s, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day! 🌼💗

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 23.2.2

more to come…

Whatever Weds. This and That

Copyright ©2022 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

We had #1 Grandson with us last week which was so nice. One of the things we did was visit an Animal Sanctuary in No. Reno called Animal Ark. My favorite were the Cheetahs. Here are two. One wanted to play but, the other wasn’t interested at all so, they’re just chillin.

Cheetahs

Here’s a rare look at #1 Grandson. We had fun measuring our arms comparing them to wingspans of No. American birds. Mine was the same as a Turkey Vulture.

#1 Grandson’s is as large as a Red-tailed Hawk

All too soon it was time to take him home.

The week before his visit I had gone birding locally and saw some good birds. One I was super excited about seeing was the Pinyon Jay. I’ve been waiting for their Spring arrival so I could try again getting a decent image of one. This bird was a lifer for me in 2019 but, they were flying by so fast then that I failed to get a decent shot of one. Finally, on this walk-about I got a few but, that tree on the right is in the way. I was afraid to get any closer and scare it off which I eventually did anyway. 😮 They travel and forage in large flocks- on this day I counted 17 in all.

Photograph

Spring is breaking out all over the west now. When we took #1 Grandson home I noticed Baby Girl’s Apple tree was blooming so I took a quick snap of a blossom.


Apple blossom

I’ve been doing some projects from the book by Wendy Tait- Watercolor Flowers. This is project #2 Roses.

Photograph

I’ve painted 3 of these now- 1 8×10 in. and 2 5X7in. I’m making progress getting my paint to water ratio right, and blending is definitely improving. There are 8 projects in the book with step by step directions and images. I like the book a lot. I’m moving on to project 3 hopefully I’ll continue to improve.

Tomorrow I’m meeting friends down in the Mono Basin to do some photography and camping. I’m hoping for good weather, and clear night skies. I hope you all are having a good week, and your week-end is fun!

Fuji X-T3| iPhone 7 Plus| PS CC 23.2.2

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends- American Bald Eagle

Copyright ©2022 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While out birding with the birding group at the beginning of the month we saw this wonderfully majestic bird fly in low and land on this branch above a pond.

American Bald Eagle

It stayed there for quite awhile just taking in its surroundings. I turned my attention to another bird for a second and poof! Off flew the Eagle.

I’m way behind with your blogs as I spent the better part of this week at Baby Girl’s doing school runs, and playing with Littlest while she was swamped with training meetings. I’m home now and beginning to play catch up.

I hope you all have a wonderful week-end. I’ll be catching up with laundry, emails, snail mail, and blogs, and speaking of blogs WP sent me a notice today wishing me a happy 12th Blogversary.12 years! It doesn’t feel that long to me. Thank you all so much for finding my blog, for the comments, conversations, and most of all for the friendships we’ve forged throughout these years. 🥰 Thank you all so much!!

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 23.0.0

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends- Wood Duck

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A couple of week ago I discovered a new park with a pond not far from home and this beautiful male Wood Duck was there among the mallards and geese.

Wood Duck Male

I heard there was a female there too but, I never saw her. She too is quite striking and pretty. Here’s an image I made last year along the river of a female Wood Duck checking out a tree for a nesting spot I thought as they nest in holes in trees or if available a nesting box. They have claws that can grip bark so they can perch on branches.

The Wood Duck is one of the prettiest ducks of all the waterfowl.

Fun facts:

  • Natural cavities for nesting are scarce, and the Wood Duck readily uses nest boxes provided for it. If nest boxes are placed too close together, many females lay eggs in the nests of other females.
  • Wood Ducks pair up in January, and most birds arriving at the breeding grounds in the spring are already paired. The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.
  • The Wood Duck nests in trees near water, sometimes directly over water, but other times over a mile away. After hatching, the ducklings jump down from the nest tree and make their way to water. The mother calls them to her, but does not help them in any way. The ducklings may jump from heights of over 50 feet without injury.
  • The oldest recorded Wood Duck was a male and at least 22 years, 6 months old. He had been banded in Oregon and was found in California.

We got a good snow dump during the night and early morning hours on Tuesday. It made everything so pretty! As I write this (Thursday) we’re supposed to get more snow today. #1 Grandson will be celebrating his 9th year on this planet next week. I hope we can get over the mountains to see him to help him celebrate. 9 years old! Time is flying by.

What are you doing this week-end, anything good? Have you finished your holiday shopping?

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 23.0.0

more to come…

Whatever Weds. Red-tailed Hawk Immature

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawk in North America and certainly the one I see most often. While birding with the birding group a few weeks ago another lady and I veered away from the group a few minutes to check out another path and saw this Red-tail perched with its back to us. It stayed for a good bit then turned and flew right over our heads. That’s when I got this shot. It’s probably a 1st year since it doesn’t have its red tail feathers yet.

Fun Facts- gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

  • The Red-tailed Hawk has a thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound. At least, that’s what Hollywood directors seem to think. Whenever a hawk or eagle appears onscreen, no matter what species, the shrill cry on the soundtrack is almost always a Red-tailed Hawk.
  • Birds are amazingly adapted for life in the air. The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, yet even the biggest females weigh in at only about 3 pounds. A similar-sized small dog might weigh 10 times that.
  • The “Harlan’s Hawk” breeds in Alaska and northwestern Canada, and winters on the southern Great Plains. This very dark form of the Red-tailed Hawk has a marbled white, brown, and gray tail instead of a red one. It’s so distinctive that it was once considered a separate species, until ornithologists discovered many individuals that were intermediate between Harlan’s and more typical Red-tailed Hawks.
  • Courting Red-tailed Hawks put on a display in which they soar in wide circles at a great height. The male dives steeply, then shoots up again at an angle nearly as steep. After several of these swoops he approaches the female from above, extends his legs, and touches her briefly. Sometimes, the pair grab onto one other, clasp talons, and plummet in spirals toward the ground before pulling away.
  • Red-tailed Hawks have been seen hunting as a pair, guarding opposite sides of the same tree to catch tree squirrels.
  • The oldest known wild Red-tailed Hawk was at least 30 years, 8 months old when it was found in Michigan in 2011, the same state where it had been banded in 1981.

The Scrub Jays here mimic the Red-tail Hawk’s call and has been fooling me a lot lately! I’ve been listening to calls so I’m not so easily fooled next time. Ha!!😂

After the group broke up I headed east in search of another bird, but had no joy finding it but, the river was pretty. I saw a few mallards, and Yellow-rumped Warblers and people so headed home for lunch.

Truckee River Bend

The image of the Red-tail looks so bad here on WordPress! I’m beyond frustrated with this happening all the time. I haven’t changed the way I process and resize my images in a decade so it must be WordPress! I need a tutorial! Any help or pointers would be greatly appreciated.

My images look fine and the way I want them to on flickr. Here’s the link to the same image of the Red-tail. https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmzajac2004/51529739409/in/dateposted/

See what I mean? I’m really not happy with WordPress at the moment! Any ideas for a not savvy computer person to fix it?

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 22.5| iPhone 7Plus

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends-Yellow Warbler

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Isn’t he cheerful? This was the second time I’ve ever seen this bird. There are more than 50 species of Warblers but few are as brilliant yellow as he is. The females aren’t as bright and lack the rich chestnut streaking, but do have the black eyes, and warm yellow tones.

Yellow Warbler

Fun Facts:

  • In addition to the migratory form of the Yellow Warbler that breeds in North America, several other resident forms can be found in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Males in these populations can have chestnut caps or even chestnut covering the entire head.
  • The nests of the Yellow Warbler are frequently parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The warbler often builds a new nest directly on top of the parasitized one, sometimes resulting in nests with up to six tiers.
  • Life can be dangerous for a small bird. Yellow Warblers have occasionally been found caught in the strands of an orb weaver spider’s web.
  • The oldest-known Yellow Warbler was a female, and was at least 11 years old when she was recaught and rereleased during banding operations in New York.~allaboutbirds.org

Sunday we drove over the mountains to go visit Baby Girl, The Handsome Surveyor, and the boys. Along the way we stopped at Maiden’s Grave pullout to view the horrible smoke plume from the Caldor Fire burning in the El Dorado National forest.

View from Maiden’s Grave, SR 88, CA.

All through the forest we kept seeing these signs- Every campground, and park is closed. 😭

Forest Closed Sign

The reports on the fire are somewhat better today. They’re allowing some residents to return their homes in South Lake Tahoe, and the cooler temperatures, and less wind in the week-end forecast is promising and should help the firefighters with the fight.

The smoke is still in the unhealthy range here, but the sun is trying to burn through it today so I’m feeling a wee bit more positive today on the fire front.

We haven’t any week-end plans since we’ve been gone a lot these last two weeks visiting our kids and grandkids. What about you any plans? Whatever your plans I hope you have a good week-end!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| and iPhone 7Plus| PS CC 22.5

more to come…

Friday Feathered Friends-Cassin’s Finch

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Back in July I saw this beauty, he was my 7th Lifer for the year!

Cassin’s Finch-Male

They live in the mountains of western North America. I am really surprised that it took me so long to spot one, but it did.

Fun Facts: gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

The Cassin’s Finch was first collected on an 1850s expedition to the southwestern mountains by the Pacific Railroad Survey. The eminent ornithologist John Cassin, who created illustrations for the survey, called the pink-tinged finch the “greatest bird in the lot.” Cassin asked his friend and colleague Spencer Baird to name the new species after him.

Male Cassin’s Finches have red crown feathers thanks to carotenoid pigments, which they acquire when they swallow colorful foods like the orange berries of firethorn plants.

Male Cassin’s Finches remain brownish and look like females during their first breeding season. During this time they sing, and this may give the false impression that both sexes sing. These young males may group into “bachelor flocks” during that first breeding season.

The Cassin’s Finch is an accomplished mimic, often adding the calls of other species into its own songs.

The Cassin’s Finch breeds semicolonially, with nests on average 80 feet apart. Nests are sometimes as close as 3 feet apart—this usually causes a fight between males until one of the pair gives up. If the first nest is substantially earlier than the other, however, such close nesting may be tolerated.

The Cassin’s Finch craves salt, and is often found visiting mineral deposits on the ground.

The oldest recorded Cassin’s Finch was a male, and at least seven years old when he was recaptured and released during banding operations in Oregon in 1979. He had been banded in the same state in 1974. ~ allaboutbirds.com

We’re still dealing with a lot of smoke from the two biggest fires in California.

As I type this on Thursday our AQI is bad, but not as awful as it was on Monday when we flew into Reno on our way home from visiting Big Baby Boy, and the Dark Haired Beauty. Monday the AQI was a whopping 398!

I saw the pilots on the way out of the plane and said, “I sure am glad you were able to see to land, because I couldn’t see a thing!” One of the pilots replied, ” We had one eye opened and hoped for the best.” 🤣😜

I’m glad it was the good eye!

He-Man said he was thinking about the scene in the movie Airplane. Flying on instruments LOL!!

I hope you all have a great week-end!!

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 22.5.0

more to come…