Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2020

A strong wind was blowing last Thursday as I was exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Most of the birds that I usually observe were absent from view, probably using common sense to take shelter from the blustery wind. As I was returning almost empty-handed to my car, I spotted several Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) perched low on the roof of a covered picnic area.

Generally I try to avoid including manmade structures in my wildlife photos, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get. I really like the way that I was able to capture some of the feather details of this male Eastern Bluebird. If you look closely, you can see the bird’s windblown feathers, a look that is cultivated by some stylish humans, who often rely on “product” to achieve the effect rather than on the actual wind.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I do not know much about fashion, but I am pretty sure that I could not pull off wearing an outfit that combined stripes and dots. Somehow, though, the combination works well for this male Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) that I spotted yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  This Northern Flicker goes even further by adding a bright red crescent across the back of his head.

Unlike most other woodpeckers that are content to wear black and white and maybe a little bit of red, this Northern Flicker comes across as a bold, colorful, and stylish. I wonder why we don’t have similarly-colored penguins.

 

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I feel lucky when I am able to capture an unobstructed shot of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula). I feel doubly fortunate when I manage to get a shot of the tiny red “crown” that is responsible for the bird’s name. Last week I spotted this Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “the male’s brilliant ruby crown patch usually stays hidden—your best chance to see it is to find an excited male singing in spring or summer.” I have seen some photos of Ruby-crowned Kinglets with their red feathers standing on end like a Mohawk hairstyle, but I have not yet seen that phenomenon in person. Spring is almost here, though, and I will keep my eyes open to see if I can spot an excited male singing kinglet. (I recommend that you repeat the words “singing kinglet” several times and you will almost certainly end up with a smile on your face.)

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Where I live in Northern Virginia, American Robins (Turdus migratorius) stay with us throughout most of the year, but I am always happy to see them because they evoke memories of my childhood, when robins were viewed as a harbinger of spring. This robin was part of a small flock that I spotted last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Robins also bring a smile to my face, because they invariably bring to mind the song “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)” that includes these catchy lyrics (as found on lyrics.com):

“When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob-Bob Bobbin’ Along
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song
Wake up, wake up you sleepy head
Get up, get out of your bed
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red
Live, love, laugh and be happy
What if I were blue,
Now I’m walking through
Fields of flowers
Rain may glisten but still I listen for hours and hours
I’m just a kid again doing what I did again, singing a song
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along.”
If you are unfamiliar with this song, check out this link to Youtube to hear a wonderful version by Bing Crosby.

Readers from the United States may have noted that I initially called this bird an American Robin, rather than simply a Robin. Thanks to my occasional trips to Europe, I have been introduced to the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), an equally beautiful but completely different bird. Here’s a link to a posting about a European Robin that I spotted in Paris last November.

 

American Robin

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Getting an unobstructed shot of small birds is frequently impossible, so I often have to twist, turn, and bend in order to get a clear shot of at least the bird’s head. That certainly was the case with this focused male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

If you look closely at the web of branches that surround and frame this woodpecker, you may notice that they are at varying degrees of sharpness, with some of them closer to the bird and some closer to me. My task was to find a visual tunnel through the branches that would somehow make them as undistracting as possible, even when they run right across the body of the main subject. Of course, the challenge is even greater with a subject like a Down Woodpecker that is hyperactive and in almost constant motion.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

The wind was blowing strongly last Friday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, giving this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) a bad case of “bed head.” I think that the wind may also have distracted the eagle a little, which allowed me to move closer to the eagle that I might otherwise have been able to do.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

During a frosty early morning February foray into Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted this handsome male Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) with fluffed-up feathers. Undeterred by the wind and the cold, he was feverishly moving up and around this tree trunk, pecking along the way in search of a tasty tidbit for breakfast.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »