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Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Bluebird’

I am not sure what kind of insect this male Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) had caught, but he seemed pretty proud of himself yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When I first spotted him, the bluebird was perched on the roof of a nesting box. I suspect that there may be a female and possibly babies inside the nesting box and the male was serving as a deliveryman. 

As I moved slightly to try to get a better angle, the bluebird flew to a nearby tree, still holding the worm/caterpillar in its mouth. I quickly realized that he did not like me being around , so I took a quick shot of him in the tree and left him in peace to complete his delivery.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The world seems to have gone crazy recently, so I look for any signs of happiness and positivity that I can find, like this beautiful Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) that I spotted on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The relatively subdued coloration of this bird suggests to me that this is a female bluebird.

Bluebirds are traditionally associated with happiness. It is my hope and prayer that somehow amidst the chaos of cancelled plans and possible quarantines, you will be able to pause and find a few moments to be thankful for what you do have.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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.

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At this time of the year pops of bright color are especially welcome, so I was thrilled on Thursday to see some Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) in a sumac patch at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Sometimes when I see bluebirds their colors seem muted, but the blue color of these birds was dazzling, especially for the males in the first two shots. I think the bluebird in the final shot is a female, judging from its coloration.

As always, you can see more detail if you click on the images, which I especially recommend for the first image, because you will see that the bluebird has a tiny sumac berry in its bill.

 

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday I spotted this pair of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) perched on a nesting box at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The female appeared to have nesting materials in her bill and seemed ready to build a nest. The only problem is that this nesting box, I believe, is currently being used by some Tree Swallows.

I don’t know for sure if this is the place where the bluebirds plan to make their nest and I never did see either of the bluebirds enter the nesting box. However, a short time later I spotted the male bluebird with nesting material in his bill, so it is quite likely that they are determined to construct a nest somewhere nearby.

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) that I have seen in 2019 have been females, which have more subdued colors than their male counterparts. I was happy recently when I finally captured an image of one of the flashy male bluebirds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

In my experience, bluebirds have a universal appeal—virtually everyone finds them to be beautiful.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last year several of my most popular postings featured Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis). In response to one of those postings, one of my youngest followers, Benjamin, asked his grandmother why they were not called Orange Bluebirds, because the birds’ bodies seemed to have as much orange as blue. I appreciate all of the comments that viewers make, but that one comment has particularly stuck with me and it comes to mind whenever I see a bluebird.

On the last day of February, I spotted several bluebirds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, my first sighting of the species in 2019. I was pleased to capture this image that shows some of the subtle coloration of one of those bluebird, with wonderfully varying shades of blue and orange.

As I was poking about on the internet looking for information on bluebirds, I came across a sweet little song by Paul McCartney and Wings called Bluebird. The song was on the album Band on the Run—I remember the album, but don’t recall having heard the song. If you want to hear the song, check out this link to the song on YouTube. As a sneak preview to the song, here are the lyrics to the first couple of stanzas, as found on the website of The Paul McCartney Project.

“Late at night when the wind is still
I’ll come flying through your door
And you’ll know what love is for,
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird

Touch your lips with a magic kiss,
And you’ll be a bluebird too,
And you’ll know what love can do,
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird
I’m a bluebird…”

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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From a distance I spotted a flash of white, high in the uppermost branches of a tree. It was vaguely bird-shaped, but I had to move closer to know for sure—I am often fooled by misshapen branches or clumps of leaves. Eventually I was able to determine that what I had seen were the white breast feathers of an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) grooming itself in the early morning sunshine.

I love bluebirds and they invariably bring a smile to my face, especially when I recall the words of Benjamin, a young viewer of my blog, who remarked that these birds should be called “orange bluebirds,” because they have as much orange as they do blue.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the tranquility of the early morning, especially when I am alone with nature. It fills me with a sense of inner peace and helps me to slow down and appreciate better the world around me.

It is difficult to convey that inner feeling in a single photo, but this image of an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) from last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge comes pretty close. The bluebird was perched on some reeds in the middle of a marshy field. There was no way that I was going to be able to move closer, but I was ok with that. I focused on capturing a sense of the bird and its autumn environment and I am pretty happy with the way that the shot turned out.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Some days the birds seem to keep their distance from me, so I do my best to capture modest images of them in their environment, like this Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) that I spotted in a field last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I hesitated a little about posting this image, but I kept coming back to it when I thought about the shots that I wanted to share. I could enumerate technical reasons why this is a somewhat flawed photo, but there is something about the mood of the image that I find appealing. In the end, I decided to follow my basic approach of posting images that I like and letting others decide for themselves how they feel about the shots.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Initially I couldn’t figure out what large insect this Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) had captured on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When the bluebird turned to the side, however, I realized that it was a Handsome Meadow Katydid (Orchelimum pulchellum), one of my favorite insects. The bluebird beat the insect against the log on which it was perched, presumably to subdue the katydid or to break open its hard shell, before consuming it.

It is hard to truly appreciate the beauty of the multi-colored katydid from a distance, so I am including a close-up photo of a Handsome Meadow Katydid from a posting that I did in August 2013 that was entitled “Rainbow grasshopper.” Check out my thoughts and feelings in that post about one of my initial encounters with such a katydid.

Still, bluebirds have to eat too, so I experienced only a brief moment of sorrow at the demise of this beautiful little creature.

Eastern Bluebird

Handsome Meadow Katydid

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When the lighting is perfect, the blue and orange colors of an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) are incredibly saturated and beautiful. Alas, lighting conditions were far from ideal when I spotted three bluebirds earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and the bluebirds were elusive.

I was able to capture some images that give at least a hint of the beauty of the bluebirds, a species that I am always happy to see.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most colors in nature are so dull and dreary during the winter that it is actually startling to see the bright spring plumage of some birds, like this brilliant blue Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) that I encountered this past Friday. Some of the trees are now putting out buds and blossoms in my area of Northern Virginia and the blurry blotches of color that you see in the background are from one such tree.

Spring is almost here.

Eastern Bluerbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the youngest viewers of my blog is a boy named Benjamin. His grandmother likes to share my photos with him and he especially likes bluebirds. Upon viewing some images of them and seeing their colors, he innocently asked why they aren’t called Orange Bluebirds. Why not indeed? This post is especially for him.

I too love Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) and am happy anytime I am able to catch a glimpse of their bright colors. Here are a couple of images of bluebirds that I spotted this past Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (and there is plenty of orange to be seen).

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes I am content to capture a sense of the moment rather than a detailed image of my subject. That was certainly the case this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, when I experienced an overwhelming feeling of tranquility upon spotting this solitary Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) peacefully perched in middle of a large field.

We were alone, but somehow together, as we each enjoyed the moment on our own terms.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Bluebirds never fail to make me feel happy—there is just something really positive about their attitude and their colors.

These Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) made it a little easier for me to capture their images by perching on the tip of  branches this past Saturday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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So how are you feeling about the new year that has just begun? Are you feeling more like the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) on the left, agitated and out front, or more like the one on the right, mellow and content to remain in the background? (Photographed this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.)

I would never have thought of a bluebird when I thought of an “angry bird,” but it sure looked irritated or even angry about something. Perhaps it was a territoriality issue or a fellow bluebird had just cut him off in traffic without even signalling. Whatever the case, I love the intensity of the pose that I managed to capture.

I hope that this first day of the new year finds you at peace and optimistic. Best wishes to all of you for a blessed new year. 

Eastern Bluebirds

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This male Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) seemed to be pretty happy to have found a batch of little red berries on which to munch on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I am not sure what those berries are, but they undoubtedly were a welcome source of energy for the little bird on a frigid morning.

I am in somewhat of a contemplative mood this morning on the final day of 2017. Five or so years ago, before I started to get more serious about photography, I might have looked at this image and wondered how it would be possible to capture a shot like this. How could I get close to such a small bird? How could I compose a pleasing image? What would I need to do to separate the subject from the cluttered background?

At the start, I needed to think consciously about all of these factors and it was somewhat overwhelming. Now, thankfully, I have had so much practice that most of these factors are second nature to me and I know how to produce an image like this. There is, of course, still lots of room for improvement, for sharpening my eye and my skills, but objectively speaking I have can see a gradual progression in my photography.

What does 2018 hold for me? I have no formalized plans, no set goals. I often describe myself as an “opportunistic shooter”—I like to walk around and photograph whatever I happen to spot. Location, though, does really matter and I anticipate visiting a few new places this coming year. I am starting to realize that I enjoy my wildlife photography most when I am more or less on my own. Popular locations often have too many other people for my personal sense of comfort. When faced with the choice of going to a place with more wildlife (and more people) or one with less varied wildlife, I increasingly find myself opting for the more isolated area.

Best wishes to all of you for a blessed 2018. Happy New Year.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I don’t tend to think of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) as winter birds, so I was very happy to see a small flock of them this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The sky was covered with clouds and there was almost no sunshine, turning my background to almost pure white in many of my shots. This tended to make some of my images, especially the one of the bluebird perched on the uppermost branches of a bush, look almost like they were shot in a studio.

Eastern Bluebirds

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this very blue Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialislast Friday morning at Huntley Meadows Park. The brightness of its color suggests to me that it is probably a male—the females tend to have duller plumage.

When I posted this photo on Facebook, I got lots of “Likes,” which is not all that surprising to me. Over time I have come to realize that many of my best-like photos have been the ones with the simplest of compositions and often have featured relatively common subjects. In this case, I managed to capture the bluebird pretty well, but the branch on which it is perched has some nice texture and perhaps most important of all, the background is pretty cool, with the faint shapes of the tree trunks and autumn foliage rendered in a pleasing blur of shapes and colors.

Beauty is often very subjective, but in rare cases like this one an image seems to have an almost universal appeal.


Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Bluebirds make me happy. There is something about their beautiful colors and energetic personalities that never fails to put a smile on my face. I spotted these beautiful little Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) on 3 November at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Virginia.

Bluebirds often perch in a tangle of branches or really high in the trees, so I was happy on this occasion to get some relatively unobstructed shots of them.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) were quite active yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, including one that was investigating tree cavities. I am not sure if the bluebird was checking out potential nesting spots for next year or was merely searching for insects. Whatever the case, it was definitely cool when the bird climbed inside the cavity and poked its head out. I was particularly happy that the sun was shining brightly, which made the bluebirds’ brilliant blue really pop.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The heavy clouds and intermittent rain on Monday morning at Huntley Meadows Park limited the light and muted the colors, but in my eyes the beauty of this Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) was in no way diminished.

The bluebird perched in a marshy area with lots of trees, so it was tough for me to get a clear shot. I was happy to find at last a gap between two lichen-covered trees that let me capture this image. A blue sky would have been nice, but I had to settle for the almost pure white sky that you see in the shot.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Bluebirds are often considered to be a symbol of happiness and I was definitely happy to spot this beautiful Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park. I saw bluebirds a number of times during my walk around the park on a sunny autumn day, but this was one of the only ones that was within range of my camera.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Happy Easter (and best wishes to those not celebrating this holiday). This has been a really busy and special Holy Week for me and I am getting ready now to go to a sunrise Easter service.

I spotted this pretty little Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) yesterday during a daylong trek around Huntley Meadows Park.

Happy Easter!

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As many of you know, I recently entered some photos in a local photo competition and was fortunate to be awarded second place for one of them. I was a little surprised by the one that was selected, because, quite frankly, it was not my favorite one of the group.

The more that I though about it, the more I realized how difficult it must be to be a judge, especially in an area like photography in which there is both a technical and an artistic component.

Why do we like what we like?

I’ve never used a poll in a posting before, but thought that in this case it might be interesting to learn which one of my four entries is your favorite. I am not really asking you to judge which one is “best,” but am looking more for a sense of which one you like most. You can use whatever criteria you like and I would be thrilled if you gave a few words about your choice.

As you can see, I chose a diverse set of subjects to appeal to a variety of tastes. There are two birds—a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis); one insect—a Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum); and one mammal—a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes).

If I have set this up correctly, you can click on any image and scroll through each of them in full size. After viewing them all, select your favorite and register your vote. As I mentioned earlier, I’d be really happy if you left a few words about your choice. (I think the poll might let you vote multiple times if you have trouble choosing, but am not 100 percent certain, given that I am not familiar with the polling component.) NOTE: If you open the posting in Reader, you may need to click on the Title to get to the actual posting and to the poll.

Thanks. Merry Christmas in advance for those celebrating Christmas and best wishes as we move toward the start of a new year.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Early morning light and fall foliage make such a great backdrop and I was thrilled when an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) flew closer to me and allowed me to take advantage of the situation.

I love it when the composition is this basic and the results are simply beautiful.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I saw a flash of blue in the distance and I smiled, for I knew it was an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). Bluebirds have that effect on me. Why?

I suppose that I can blame the Wizard of Oz, a movie that I watched repeatedly during my childhood. Who could forget Dorothy singing of happy little bluebirds flying beyond the rainbow?

“Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?”

bluebird_feb_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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My eyes caught a flash of bright blue yesterday as I was walking through Huntley Meadows Park, my local marsh, and I pointed my telephoto lens at the tree in the distance.

As I composed this shot, I was initially a little confused by what I saw. The reddish-brown color of the breast and the fact that there were some blue feathers made me think that it was an Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), but the bird’s body didn’t seem blue enough. After doing a little research when I got home, I realized that most of the bluebirds that I had seen previously must have been adult males—as is the case with many other birds, the female Eastern Bluebird is more subdued in color than the male.

I didn’t have a lot of time to frame this shot, so I was happy that I managed to center the bird on the dark spot in the background and to surround it with some colorful fall foliage. All of the orange color in the image really helps the blue on the wing to pop, which is not too surprising since, if I remember color theory correctly, orange and blue are complementary colors.

bluebird_autumn_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I always associate bluebirds with happiness, and I am invariably happy when I see one. There is something exceptionally beautiful about the combination of colors, the brilliant royal blue and the warm reddish brown, especially now as winter approaches and the other colors seem so muted.

I grew up with the Wizard of Oz and remember almost all of the lyrics of the the song Over the Rainbow, sung in the movie by Judy Garland. In the song, bluebirds are one of the symbols of hope. “Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh why can’t I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?”

Well, I wasn’t beyond the rainbow this past weekend, but I did see this little Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis), perched on a small tree in the middle of a field. He was a bit far away so I had to crop the images, which are a bit soft in focus. Nevertheless, I am sure you will agree that his beauty shines through.

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?

Eastern bluebird

Eastern bluebird

Bluebird in a tree

Bluebird in a tree

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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November so far have been gray and cloudy and much of the fall foliage has faded. I was therefore extra happy to see brightly colored birds today. Although I have repeatedly photographed brilliant red cardinals, today was the first day that I got a decent shot of the equally spectacular Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis).

I looked at the range map for the Eastern Bluebird and we may have them here all year in Northern Virginia. I guess that I’ll just have to wait and see.

Eastern Bluebird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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