Archive for August, 2007

Five Interesting Shots of the Suet Feeder

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Here’s a bunch of shots from the last few days that struck me as interesting in one way or another, with all of them featuring the suet feeder.

This first one, taken at 3:28 p.m. on August 10 by user j.lassalle, shows a female House Sparrow. But look to the left of the feeder: What on earth is that?

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The nearest I can figure out is that it’s a Chestnut-backed Chickadee on its way from the ball feeder to the suet feeder, reduced to a blur (but a blur with clearly visible CBC field marks) on which the shadow of the suet feeder can be seen with remarkable clarity. I guess it’s a manifestation of a slowish shutter speed: The underlying bird (the chickadee) is in motion, so it’s a blur, but the shadow of the feeder is perfectly stationary, so it’s crystal clear. Anyway, I thought that looked pretty cool.

This next shot, taken at 4:59 p.m. on August 11 by kryptonkay, shows a feisty male House Sparrow driving the Downy Woodpecker off the feeder. According to kryptonkay’s comment, the sparrow actually succeeded in chasing the woodpecker away. (Photo #28317, taken immediately before by kitcat, shows the situation developing.) Those sparrows sure are cheeky! 🙂

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Next is a shot I got on August 11 at 7:15 p.m. I took it because I think it shows four species in one shot. Going from right to left, there’s a Pygmy Nuthatch on the suet feeder, a Chestnut-backed Chickadee inside the ball feeder, a bird on the left of the pole feeder fluttering its wings that’s definitely a male House Sparrow, and then, of the three remaining birds in the shot (one opposite the House Sparrow on the right side of the pole feeder, the other two on the thistle-seed feeder), I really want to believe that at least one of them is a House Finch. (I think the bird on the right side of the thistle-seed feeder has the best chance of being one.)

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So far I’m not aware of any shot containing five identifiable species. If anyone knows of one, please point it out to me. Thanks! (I realize this shot isn’t really suet-feeder-centric, but the suet feeder is in the shot, so I figured it was thematically acceptable for me to include it here.)

Next is a shot I took earlier today (August 12), at 5:14 p.m. Someone (I’m not sure who) was zooming the camera in tight, aiming through the suet feeder and focusing on the top of the Pride of Madeira behind it. It was that awkward time of day when the background is still in sun but the feeders are shadowed, when it’s a real pain to get the camera to focus properly on the birds on the feeders. I noticed that the various people on the camera were giving whoever was driving a lot of leeway, letting the camera stay focused on the background, which I thought was pretty cool. I’ve been noticing lately that people seem to have become pretty tolerant of letting one person drive at a time, which I have to say I really appreciate; it’s so much nicer than having people wrestle the thing back and forth, making it impossible to get a good shot of anything.

And just as I was thinking this, I suddenly saw what I assume the person operating the camera was interested in: There was an Allen’s Hummingbird landing atop the Pride of Madeira. I missed getting the shot that time, but a few minutes later he was back, and I got several shots, including this one that I kept:

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As I commented on the image, “Colonel Mustard, in the conservatory, with the candlestick. Or, in this case, Allen’s Hummingbird, atop the Pride of Madeira, through the suet feeder!” 🙂

Finally, I saw this Chestnut-backed Chickadee at 6:54 p.m. today hanging off the suet feeder by one foot, and thought it was really cute. I didn’t take a shot, because I was going for another 10-species-in-10-shots thing, and I already had a chickadee, but thankfully avatar99 got a great shot of it:

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This isn’t just a case of a photo freezing a funny-looking moment; that chickadee really did hang on like that for several seconds. It was pretty funny to see.

So, there you go: Five interesting shots featuring the suet feeder (which, as of tonight, is empty — hint, hint).

Julie Waters’ Bird Photography Site

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

I came across a link to Julie’s Magic Light Show, and wanted to share. If you like CONE Sutro Forest, you’ll probably like her site. Enjoy!

Update: Of particular interest to recent birdcamming, check out this page on her site: Downy or Hairy?

Wilson’s Warbler (!)

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Here are four shots of the same bird, taken back on July 30 at 7:10 a.m. The first and last shots are by kilcat; the rest are by kryptonkay:

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The third and fourth shots are pretty compelling, ID-wise. After reading the comments and checking the field guide, I’m pretty sure noho_bird_club’s proposed ID of Wilson’s Warbler is correct. If so, it would be a new bird for the system, but so far the chances look slim that any of the four photos is going to make it to an agreed-upon ID.

Oh, well. It’s pretty exciting that the shots were taken, at least. Presumably this is a juvenile male; with any luck he’ll wander past the camera after his black cap comes in, and we’ll get a new bird officially.

But congratulations, kilcat and kryptonkay, on some great shots of a great bird!

Update: And now we’ve received enough votes to switch two of the photos (the first and the third one above) to an official ID. Hooray!

Fun Shots

Friday, August 10th, 2007

I realize it may be a while before we get additional gameplay features from the folks on the CONE team, and I’m fine with that. One reason I’m fine with it is there are so many fun things we can do with the system in the meantime.

I mean, scoring points by entering IDs is fine, but getting a cool shot is even better. One example: This great shot of Roscoe taken by killeshin at 6:07 p.m. today:

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And then, during the few minutes I had on the birdcam today (my first in a while), I was enjoying checking out some frisky chickadees, when I realized that it wasn’t just that they were being frisky: they were being repeatedly buzzed by an Allen’s Hummingbird. Getting a shot of something like that can be pretty tough due to the birdcam’s image-capture delay, but I snapped a bunch and got lucky with this one:

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What could be more fun than that? 🙂


Friday, August 10th, 2007

Craig posted a 24-second video to YouTube back on July 28 showing a Scrub Jay on the suet feeder and a Steller’s Jay on the deck railing. Check it out:

The audio track is fairly tantalizing. I mean, it’s nice to know what TV Craig watches (sounds like a local news program), but are those birds I can hear in the background?? I’m pretty sure there’s a House Finch in there, at least. Next time, please turn down the TV! 🙂

For bonus points, tell me what you think that bird is flying by from right to left in the background at about the 18-second mark. I have a guess, but I’m not at all confident about it.

Anyway, thanks, Craig! More video, please!

Downy Woodpecker!

Friday, August 10th, 2007

I wasn’t around (again) for the start of the excitement, but there’s a new bird in town: a female (or maybe a juvenile) woodpecker that everyone seems to pretty much agree is a Downy. Here’s the first shot, taken by idbirds at 7:21 p.m. on July 31:

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Here’s one taken by kitcat the next day at 8:01 a.m. I’m including it here because I think the chickadee is so cute:

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Finally, here’s what might be my favorite shot of the bird out of the actually fairly large number (about 80 or so) that have been taken so far. This one was taken by annelizabeth at 7:25 p.m. last Tuesday, August 7:

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You can’t see it in any of these photos, but there have been some where you can definitely see some black flecks in the white outer tail feathers. Here’s one snapped by birdbrain at 8:40 a.m. on August 1 that shows them well:

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There has been some discussion surrounding the question of whether this might be a Hairy, rather than a Downy, and I confess I’m not 100% convinced myself. Among the things that make me wonder are what looks to be a relatively large beak in some shots, and the big Sibley guide’s illustration on page 313 showing a “Pacific” race adult female Hairy that has the tail spots (normally a good way of pegging a bird as a Downy). On the other hand, as at least one user has commented, this bird seems to lack the large black “shoulder” mark that Hairy typically shows, and if, as has been stated in comments, the suet feeder is 5 inches square, this bird’s size definitely seems closer to the Downy’s length of 6.75″ (Sibley) than the Hairy’s 9.25″. On the third hand, if this is a juvenile bird, maybe that would have a bearing on the ID?

On balance, I think I’m okay with calling it a Downy. But it’s a fun question to think about, regardless. And in the meantime, I’m very jealous that my lack of birdcam time (I was pretty busy for a while, and then was on vacation without a computer for a week) has kept me from getting a shot of this bird. Hopefully I can get one in the next few days.