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…

Friday’s Feathered Friends-Pine Grosbeak

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last week I went birding with the Audubon Group and we were treated to a sighting that not only was a new to me bird, but a rare bird to this area too. Lifer number 6 for 2021 is the Pine Grosbeak. This is a female.

This was a “lifer” for about half the group and there were only 9 of us birding that morning. It was quite exciting!

Fun Facts-gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

  • Pine Grosbeaks eat a lot of plants, but it can be tough for their nestlings to eat and digest all that vegetation. Instead of feeding plants directly to their nestlings, they regurgitate a paste of insects and vegetable matter that they store in pouches at the lower part of their jaw on either side of their tongues.
  • Not all Pine Grosbeaks are the same. Not only do they differ in the amount and intensity of red across their range, they are also different sizes. Body size and wing and tail length generally increase from Newfoundland westward to the Yukon Territory. But birds on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Island) in British Columbia, Canada, and in California are among the smallest of all Pine Grosbeaks. Wings and tails of birds on Haida Gwaii are around a half inch smaller than birds in Alaska.
  • Pine Grosbeaks aren’t just in North America. They also breed in subalpine evergreen forests from eastern Asia to Scandinavia.
  • The tameness and slow-moving behavior of the Pine Grosbeak prompted locals in Newfoundland to affectionately call it a “mope.”
  • Winter flocks may stay near a tree with abundant fruit until all of it is consumed.
  • The oldest recorded Pine Grosbeak was a male, and at least 9 years, 9 months old when he was found in Quebec in 1970. He was first captured and banded in Connecticut in 1961.

I hope you all have a wonderful week-end!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| PS CC 22.4.2

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends- American Dippers

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

I’ve been rather slow at telling you about several new to me birds that I’ve seen this year. There have been 5 so far this year.

The first one I saw was back in February. Yeah, I know. I love making the images, going out hiking, birding, etc., but processing the images and writing…not so much.

So, this bird I saw in February really made me do my happy dance… jumping for joy happy dance because I tried to find this bird several times over a couple of years while I lived in San Jose sans success. Just less than two years after moving to Nevada I found not one but a pair!! Here without further ado is the American Dipper.

They were gathering nesting material under an overpass and flying into a hole under it. Lighting conditions weren’t great. They were in the shadow of the bridge making it hard to get a good image of them. I opened up the shadows in post editing.

Th

This next image shows the white eyelid they have that you only see when they blink.

Finally, I got lucky and one flew out into the sunlight!

Fun Facts: Gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

  • The American Dipper chooses a nest site, invariably along a stream, that provides security from floods and predators. Availability of suitable nest sites appears to limit its populations.
  • To be able to survive in cold waters during the winter, the American Dipper has a low metabolic rate, extra oxygen-carrying capacity in its blood, and a thick coat of feathers.
  • Unlike most other songbirds, but similarly to ducks, the American Dipper molts its wing and tail feathers all at once in the late summer. The bird is flightless during this time.
  • The oldest American Dipper was over 8 years old, when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in South Dakota.

The American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. I’m so happy I finally saw them!

I hope you all have a great week-end!

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 22.4.1

more to come…

Wordless Wednesday-Profile of an American Robin

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

AA

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm @400mm| PS CC 22.4.1

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends- Red-breasted Merganser Male

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Late in January, I heard there was a Red-necked Grebe in Lake Tahoe and it’s a bird I’ve never seen so wanting to get out of the house between storms He-Man and I drove over there for a walk-about and see what we could see. No grebe anywhere, but I did see a small group of Common Mergansers, and one that didn’t look quite like the others, but looked like a Merganser. I made some images and when I got home uploaded the images and discovered to my delight the one in the group that was a little different was a Red-breasted Merganser Male. A new bird for me, and Lifer number one for 2021!

They weren’t doing much of anything when I saw the group. I think it was a bit early and they were still waking up. 😀

Male Red-breasted Merganser Lake Tahoe 2021

Fun facts about them gleaned from my favorite source allaboutbirds.org

  • The Red-breasted Merganser breeds farther north and winters farther south than the other American mergansers.
  • Red-breasted Mergansers don’t acquire breeding plumage until they are 2 years old.
  • Red-breasted Mergansers need to eat 15 to 20 fish per day, which researchers suggest means they need to dive underwater 250–300 times per day or forage for 4–5 hours to meet their energy needs.
  • The oldest recorded Red-breasted Merganser was a female, and at least 9 years, 6 months old when she was shot in Alaska, the same state where she had been banded.

That’s a lot of diving and foraging isn’t it!

I hope you all a lovely week-end!

Panasonic Lumix FZ200| PS CC 22.3.0

more to come…

Friday’s Feathered Friends-Northern Harrier

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Several weeks ago He-Man was up for exploring so I took him to some of my birding spots that he hasn’t been to yet. While driving into one area I spotted a Northern Harrier on the ground in an irrigation ditch and as soon as we parked I took off to try to get a photo of it. It remained still and let me take a series of images of it. I wondered if it had a meal in that pile of weeds/grass?

Sitting Northern Harrier Male;

Afterwards I caught up with He-Man and while we were picking our way through a field avoiding the muddiest spots he spotted another one sitting in the field. WOOT!

Later on I spied her flying and on the lookout for a meal.

Look at this wing span! She’s ready to pounce! She came up empty and flew out of my range and view onto a new hunting ground no doubt across the pond.

Cool facts:

Male Northern Harriers can have up to 5 mates at once though most only have two. The males provides the food, and the females take care of incubating the eggs and brood the chicks.

Northern Harriers are the most owl like of the hawks, but they are not related to owls. They rely on their hearing and vision to find prey. They have a disk shaped face the looks and functions like an owls with stiff facial feathers that direct sound to their ears.

Juvenile males have pale greenish-yellow eyes, while juvenile females have dark chocolate brown eyes. The eye color of both sexes changes gradually to lemon yellow by adulthood. I didn’t know that!

They eat small mammals and small birds but have been known to take down ducks and rabbits.

The oldest known Northern Harrier on record was a Female at least 15 years, 4 months old when she was captured and released in 2001 by a bird bander in Quebec. She had been banded in New Jersey in 1986.

Cool facts gleaned from allaboutbirds.org

The Harriers were the most exciting sighting at this location soon we were on our way to find a meal ourselves then call it day and head home.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, keep safe and warm!

Fuji X-T3| Fuji 100-400mm| PS CC 22.2

more to come…