To describe my lifelong fascination with flight and with creatures that fly I like to echo the words of John James Audubon who in 1839 wrote of himself as "...one who never can cease to admire and to study with zeal and the most heartfelt reverence, the wonderful productions of an Almighty Creator."
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sometimes a birding experience is a gift that keeps on giving. Here I am, back from my trip to South America for a month, and I'm still finding "new" birds. Well, I actually saw this Cinereous Conebill in a park in Lima, Peru, on September 20, but did not know it's identity until a few days ago when a friend (who has also birded in S. America and has some better fieldguides than I do) helped me figure it out.
A wintertime scramble out on a jetty along the Oregon Coast is always exhilarating, and sometimes not very safe. But one of the rewards that can almost always be expected is a chance to watch Black Turnstones in their natural habitat.
Yesterday afternoon it was sunny and warm on the Barview Jetty at Tillamook, Oregon. Many Brown Pelicans, including this immature flying across the jetty, were just as busy as the local fishermen taking advantage of the nice weather and a calm ocean.
I recently opened one of my Violet-green Swallow nestboxes to clean out the old nest and make it ready for the new season. I was surprised to find three dead swallows: an adult female and two nestlings that had apparently been within days of fledging when they died. I know that one young bird did fledge from this clutch, and for several days was often seen perched near the adult male on a wire near the nest. I assumed then that the female was seldom seen because she was searching for food for the other nestlings I could hear inside the nestbox. Now... the mystery. Why did she die in the box after successfully getting one of her young birds on the wing?
The second surprise was the feather (one on each side) with the white tip. I have never before seen a Violet-green Swallow (nor any photos of one) with this mark.
I didn't know what they were when I saw them a month ago on a school campus in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Tonight, with the help of Google, I discovered that they are species of birds found only on this one island in the Caribbean. The memory of the event becomes all the more interesting when I recall that I took these photos consecutively of these two birds in the same tree within a one-minute time span. First, the Black-crowned Palm Tanager, and then the Hispaniolan Woodpecker. As if the day was not made memorable enough by the lashing we had received during the previous night by the lightning, wind and rain of the edge of Hurricane Ike.