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Posts Tagged ‘Alexandria VA’

Today I decided to feature two of the smallest birds that I spotted in the trees in my neighborhood after our recent snowfall. The first one is a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), a little bird that is in the same family as the chickadee. The second one, I believe, is a House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), a bird that I don’t recall having seen before. I was really drawn to its red coloration and learned from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that the red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly).

tufted titmouse

housefinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Female Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) do not stand out as much as their bright red male counterparts, but their beauty is at a minimum comparable, albeit in a more dignified and understated way. The male cardinal is like a loud, raucous call, while the female is more like a soft, seductive whisper.

female Northern Cardinal

female Northern Cardinal

female Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the cute little birds that I saw in the snow in my neighborhood earlier this week was this Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). I can’t help but smile at the bird’s pose, which gives the image a really whimsical,almost cartoonish feel.

Dark-eyed Junco

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Images of a bright red cardinal in the brilliant white snow—some might view such shots as a bit cliché, but I view them instead as iconic. I ventured out into my neighborhood earlier this week after the snow had stopped falling and was thrilled to find a small group of Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). They spent most of their time buried in the branches, but eventually I was able to capture some unobstructed images of some male cardinals.

Although I like the details of the second shot, the first shot really draws me in by presenting a better depiction of the snowy environment. In some parts of the country this is a typical winter scene, but here in Northern Virginia, this is the biggest snow storm we have had since 2016, so it was pretty unusual to have this kind of photo opportunity.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The pastor at the Christmas service today reminded us of the theological implications of saying “Merry Christmas.” Every time that we utter those words, he said, we are telling another person that God loves them, that the true message of Christmas is God Incarnate, God taking on a human form to dwell among us.

Earlier this morning I was thinking about what kind of a photo I would post today. I considered selecting a recent wildlife photo, but not of them spoke to me. As I walked the dog while it was still dark, I thought about taking a photo of some of the colorful lights and decorations in my neighborhood, but somehow they didn’t represent Christmas to me at that moment.

I finally went out to my front yard and took this modest photo of one of the bushes there. I think it is called Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) and its simple form and traditional colors seemed an accurate reflection of my inner thoughts and feelings about Christmas this year. Christ came into the world in a humble way and meets us today where we are, no matter what our circumstances may be.

With the angel chorus and the heavenly host, I think about these words of the traditional Christmas story that I learned so long ago in the King James version: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Heavenly Bamboo

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I didn’t have to go far to find this Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)—I spotted it while walking a friend’s Cocker Spaniel in my suburban townhouse neighborhood. I rushed home to get my camera and was thrilled when I returned to find that the hawk was still perched on a broken-off tree in a small marshy area.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The gentle paddling of this Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) produced such wonderful patterns in the water that it was easy to fight the temptation to crop this image more closely. This is another one of the waterbirds that appeared recently at a pond in a nearby suburban neighborhood.

Virtually all of the visiting birds are skittish enough that they will swim away toward the center of the pond as I approach. Fortunately for me they swim a lot more slowly than they fly, so I generally have a chance to track them as they swim, hoping they will turn their heads periodically to the side.

Pied-billed Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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