Archive for May, 2008

Male Painted Bunting!

Friday, May 30th, 2008

It’s not a great shot, but boy, is it a great shot. 🙂 Look at what rafa snapped a photo of at 11:25 this morning:

We previously had a couple of shots of a female Painted Bunting, so it isn’t a new ID, but I’ve been hoping we could get a shot of a male. It’s a bird I’ve never seen in real life, and always wanted to.

So, that bare-sticks tree beyond the pond is the happening place. I had a couple of bad shots I threw away of the Ladder-backed Woodpecker in there today (he was moving too fast for me).

Congratulations, rafa! We’re all jealous.

Cutest. Shots. Ever.

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Remember the pregnant white-tail doe we’ve been watching since the camera went live? I don’t think she’s pregnant any more. Check out these shots taken this morning by birdbrain and rafa:

birdbrain wrote in the comment accompanying that first photo:

Bambi happily exploring the area (no parents visible) … running and hiding in tall clumps of grass from time to time…. A natural instinct for survival. Absolutely amazing!!

Ladder-backed Woodpecker!

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Another new species today, and again, rafa and lal were in the thick of the action. First-shot honors (and kudos for some good camera driving, reportedly) went to rafa:

My favorite close-up was this shot by lal:

I love how we really get to see the field marks. No doubt about it: Ladder-backed Woodpecker all the way. Great job!

Tufted Titmouse!

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I’ve had no time to birdcam the last few days, but you guys have picked up some awesome new birds, including Tufted Titmice (or is it titmouses?) that were first photographed early Tuesday morning, and which have since been seen at least two more times (though not by me, darn it).

The first shot went to lal:

rafa got this shot showing two birds at once, though I understand there were actually three individuals present. They moved around so fast they were hard to get shots of.

Finally, robin54 got this nice close-up of that characteristic titmouse/chickadee behavior of holding a seed in one’s feet in order to do some concentrated pecking:

Congratulations on getting cute shots of some exceedingly cute birds!

Know Your Icterids, Part Three: Brown-headed Cowbird

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

After Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds are probably the most commonly seen birds in the birdcam; they’re pretty much always around. As with other icterids, the males and females are quite different. Males are black with a distinctive brown head, while females, which are similar in shape but just a tad smaller, are tan with few distinct markings.

I took these three cowbird shots this morning because I thought it was interesting how the male toward the top of the frame was posturing; he did this several times. (The male at the bottom of the frame shows a more-typical cowbird posture.) The female, too, seemed to be acting unusual, crouching down the way you see in these images. I wondered if this was courtship behavior, but no actual mating took place that I noticed.

Brown-headed Cowbirds are nest parasites, as most readers of this blog probably already know. They don’t build a nest or rear their own young; instead, the female lays an egg in the nest of some other perching bird. I’ve read that as it matures, the young cowbird will often grow larger and faster than its nestmates, pushing them out of the nest to monopolize the attentions of its foster parents.

The Wikipedia article on the Brown-headed Cowbird currently includes the following photo, taken by Frankie Rose, showing a Brown-headed Cowbird egg in the nest of an Eastern Phoebe:

According to that Wikipedia article, the cowbird’s nest parasitism evolved as an adaptation to the bird’s traditional lifestyle following the North American bison herds. With the arrival of European settlers and their livestock, they found themselves admirably adapted to the new conditions, and have continued quite successfully (in the eyes of some, a little too successfully) to this day.

Northern Bobwhite!

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Phantoms no more, a pair of Northern Bobwhites were photographed by users peteinkeyworth and birdbrain early this morning. Here’s the first shot, taken by peteinkeyworth at 6:10 a.m.:

That’s the male, with the more contrast-y head markings, on the lower right, and the female on the left.

Here’s the tightest closeup that they got, taken by birdbrain at 6:19:

Congratulations on getting some great shots of the game’s newest bird!

Know Your Icterids, Part Two: Bronzed Cowbird

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

A bird that’s new for me with CONE Welder is the Bronzed Cowbird. Like the other icterids in the system, the males and females look somewhat different, though with the Bronzed Cowbird the difference isn’t as obvious as it is with the other icterids we’ve been seeing.

Here’s a shot of a male that I took today:

And here’s a shot of a female I took a few minutes later:

The female has the same pattern of black on the head and back, with lighter plumage below that, though the female is more drab than the male.

As with many icterids, eye color is an important field mark for the Bronzed Cowbird. Both sexes have a really striking reddish iris; birdbrain got this great shot of a male glaring at the camera on May 16:

Something that confused me the first few times I saw these birds was that they don’t always show the puffed-up head and shoulders that Sibley shows in his illustration (he calls it a “ruff”). They do show it a lot, though, as in that photo of the male at the top of this post, and in this cool shot taken by txbird on May 10:

Finally, here’s a good comparison shot I got back on May 4. I think this shows a male Bronzed Cowbird in the middle, with a female on either side. (I’m not sure about the identity of the other two birds in the background.) Besides the difference in their markings, you can see that there’s a bit of a size difference between the sexes, too; the male is a little larger.

Phantom Bobwhite

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

I got an email from robin54 today that included the following news:

Today we had bobwhite on the cam. Unfortunately, there was too much wrestling for control and no one got a shot! The users at the time talked about how sometime it seems deliberate and at others we’re all just so excited we forget when we try to drive, the camera goes to the last place we were. So we decided among ourselves to let whoever found the bird drive from then on. We hoped something could go on the blog about camera ethics.

So, there you go: there are bobwhites out there, so keep your eyes open. Also, try not to get too excited and jerk the camera away from the action when there’s something good on-screen. (I’ve done that myself, and I always feel really dumb afterward. Remember: if you use the arrow or zoom controls, rather than drawing a box on the panorama, the system interprets your action as being relative to wherever you last told the camera to go, even if it’s not where the camera is currently pointed.)

Update: And now, as pointed out by robin54 in the comments, peteinkeyworth and birdbrain each got shots of a pair of Bobwhites this morning (Saturday, May 24). Yay!

Another Robin Photo from Craig’s Deck

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Craig posted a new item to his personal blog mentioning that robins are still singing. He included this photo of what I think is a female robin:

I’ve always really loved the American Robin’s song; it ranks up there as one of my favorites.

Audubon’s Oriole!

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

Probably my favorite thing about the CONE system is the way amazing things just all of a sudden show up in the camera. You’re half paying attention while someone else is driving, and all of a sudden — whoa! What’s that?

Case in point: I glanced over at the screen a few minutes ago and saw this guy:

Audubon’s Oriole is listed as “accidental” on Selma Glasscock’s checklist of Welder birds, but it’s listed in the CONE Welder list of neotropical “species of interest”, so apparently it’s been showing up in the refuge more frequently of late. Anyway, I don’t think there’s any doubt that that’s what this was.

The bird turned sideways at the end and showed a good view of its wings and tail, but I didn’t get a shot of that, unfortunately. I’m waiting to see the shots other users got once the 1-hour embargo is over; I’ll post them here if there are other good ones.

Woohoo! New birds are fun. 🙂

Update: Lots more shots were taken by users birderbf, vireo, and rafa, with birderbf getting the honors of the first shot:

(Smart, by the way, getting that “insurance” shot quickly, before trying to zoom in.) I also liked this shot that rafa got at the end of the sequence: