Posts Tagged ‘birds’

As another year in my journey through photography comes to a close, I decided to share a few of my favorite photos of the past year. I initially planned to choose one image for each month and that was doable for the first few months of the year. Once I moved into the prime seasons for shooting, though, there were so many good photos I couldn’t select a single one, so I chose multiples for those months and ended up with these thirty photos.

If you want to see the images in a larger size, all you need to do is click on one of them and they will then be displayed in a slide show format.

Thanks so much to all of you who have followed my blog postings and supported and encouraged me in so many ways. It has been a wonderful year and I look forward to more photos and new adventures in the upcoming new year.

Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a blessed 2019.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Walking in Washington D.C. along the National Mall, I couldn’t help but notice that humans were not the only ones taking advantage of the water fountains along the periphery. Several different kinds of birds were bathing and drinking in the water of backed-up fountains.

In the first shot, a bird, which may be a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula), seemed to be testing the water in the fountain—a few seconds later, it was happily splashing about.

urban bird

I love the defiant stance of the larger bird in the second shot, looking like he is the leader of an urban gang, prepared to defend his turf against outsiders like me.

urban bird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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If I were a woodpecker, I would want to be a male Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) and slam my head into something soft as a pillow—like this cattail—and not always into solid wood. Of course, you can end up with a mouthful of cattail fibers, and not just a tasty bug.

Downy woodpecker with mouthful of cattail

Downy woodpecker on cattail

More seriously, scientists are doing research to figure out why woodpeckers don’t end up with concussions, given that they can slam their heads into wood with the force of 1,000 times that of gravity, according to an article on livescience.com. By comparison, humans can survive a force of up to G’s, according to Air Force research, though there are reports of race car drivers surviving a force of over 100 G’s. According to the article, Chinese researchers are studying the microscopic structure of the bones surrounding the brain and also the beak to try to understand how the woodpecker’s brain is protected. If you are interested in the research, an article on a website called Inkfish explains in layman’s terms the research methodology and some of the preliminary conclusions.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The skies were dark and overcast early this afternoon as we awaited the hurricane that was likely to bring rains and winds, though we are probably not directly in its path. The birds in my neighborhood were unusually active, so I decided to try to take some photographs of them. With few exceptions, my photos turned out to be silhouettes, because the existing light was too weak to illuminate the birds against the backdrop of the sky. I like the effect, however, and decided to post some of these silhouettes. The first one, my favorite, was a shot in which the bird started to take off just as I pressed the shutter and I like the result better than if I had captured him on the branch. Some of the other images show birds in flight or in action. Somehow they seems appropriate for a stormy day (and I can hear the wind and the rain outside as I write this entry).

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am getting a little better at bird identification and can identify the birds in these photos as probably American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis). However, just went I thought I could differentiate between a male and a female, I found out that non-breeding males look a lot like females. Wow! This is getting more complicated. Here’s some of my favorite goldfinch shots from this past weekend, when there seemed to be quite a few goldfinchs feeding on the bushes at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

American Goldfinch looking back at me

American Goldfinch in a tree

American Goldfinch perched at the top

American Goldfinch feeding

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was walking through the marsh land early this morning, a flock of very loud black birds flew overhead. I was surprised at how many there were and how noisy they were. I think they may be some kind of blackbird and that they are in the process of migrating. I managed to snap a few photos of some of the birds as they were flying. It is fun to look at all of the different body positions of the individual birds when I took the shots.

I especially like this first photo. It looks to me like the bird who is lagging behind is calling out to the other birds, requesting that they slow the pace a bit so that he does not fall behind. The birds look almost cartoonish and the photo just makes me smile.

“Please slow down.”

The second photo shows an even greater number of different positions. You may want to click on the photo for a higher resolution view so that you can appreciate the uniqueness of the individual birds.

Unsynchronized flying

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It may sound like a new summer beverage sensation, but the title is meant to be literal.

I captured this shot of a green heron  just as the rain was beginning to fall this afternoon. I was at the same pond at a local garden where I had previously seen a juvenile green heron (and that was right after the rain). Maybe green herons like to come out to play in the rain—I’ll have to remember that in the future.

There really wasn’t enough light for a high quality image, but I think that I managed to capture the unique look and style of the green heron.

(I also got some photos of a juvenile green heron this afternoon but I’ll save them for another posting.)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Stereotypes of a heron’s  appearance

This past weekend I visited a pond at a local garden and encountered this interesting bird. He looked a little like a heron but had a totally different body type—he was shorter and squatter than the herons I was used to seeing. I have photographed blue herons and white herons and have a mental picture of what a heron looks like. They are tall and slender and posses a fashion model’s elegance. Could this really be a heron?

Surveying the situation

Playing and posing like a child

I was alone with the bird for quite some time for the gardens were deserted after a thunderstorm. The beautiful bird, later identified as a juvenile green heron, seemed to be unusually willing to remain as I attempted to photograph him. At times he even seemed to be posing for me. Like a child he was enjoying himself, running around and playing in the water. He definitely was not intent on adult-type tasks such as catching food.

Full body shot. Don’t I have great legs?

Is this enough of a smile for you?

It’s a green heron

I am pretty confident that this bird is a green heron (Butorides virescens). Wikipedia helped me determine that he is a juvenile because of the brown-and-white streaked feathers on his breast and the greenish-yellow webbed feet. (The adult green heron has a darker bill and a more pronounced  chestnut-colored neck and breast.) NatureWorks has some summary information if you want to quickly learn about green herons.

This grass feels really good on my bare feet.

A tool-using bird

My favorite website for information on the green heron, however, belongs to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which includes range maps and audio files. It also noted the following truly amazing fact about green herons, “The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.”

Ready for my close-up

Maybe the green heron should have its own reality television show, “Fishing With a Green Heron-Choosing the Right Bait. You Don’t Even Need a Hook”

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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