Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Kingstowne VA’

Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps) are rather strange looking birds. Their heads are unusually large and blocky, their bills are short and thick, and they have virtually no tails. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website describes them with these words, “The Latin genus name for “grebe” means “feet at the buttocks”—an apt descriptor for these birds, whose feet are indeed located near their rear ends. This body plan, a common feature of many diving birds, helps grebes propel themselves through water. Lobed (not webbed) toes further assist with swimming. Pied-billed Grebes pay for their aquatic prowess on land, where they walk awkwardly.”

Most of the times when I see a Pied-billed Grebe it is either disappearing from sight as it dives for food or it is swimming away from me. I captured this shot last week as the grebe was in fact swimming away, but paused for a moment and looked to the side. Yes, this is the notorious “butt shot” that we photographers try to avoid, but I like the way that you can see some of the details of the birds eye and the water beaded up on its back and decided to post it anyways.

Pied-billed Grebe

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

Read Full Post »

From a distance, male Bufflehead ducks (Bucephala albeola) generally look like they are black and white.  Last Friday, however, the lighting was coming from a good direction and revealed some of the beautiful green and purple iridescent feathers on this bird’s head. The second image shows a Bufflehead couple and shows the dramatic difference in appearance between the male and female of this species.

Bufflehead

Buffleheads

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

This past Friday I spotted a Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), one of the birds that is present in my area only during the winter months. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology there is a huge range of geographic variation in the Dark-eyed Junco, with five variants of the bird considered separate species until the 1980s.

The bird in the photo below is a “slate-colored junco,” the only type that I have ever seen. Variants found in other parts of the United States, however, may have white wings, pink sides, red backs, gray heads, or a dark hood. Yikes—bird identification is hard enough under normal circumstances, but with that much variation, it seems almost impossible.

Dark-eyed Junco

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Can birds smile? With rigid bills, it is probably anatomically impossible for birds to smile in the same way that humans do.

Sometimes, though, a bird will look at me in such a friendly, inquisitive way that it is easy for me to imagine that it is smiling at me. That was the case recently with this female Bufflehead duck (Bucephala albeola) that had cocked her head to the side and looked right at me.

I generally try to approach my subjects as slowly and stealthily as I can so that they will not perceive me as threatening. Of course, most wildlife subjects have much more highly developed senses than I do and they usually catch me in the act. Sometimes they will flee, but if I am lucky, they will simply smile at me.

bufflehead

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Some bird species are very territorial and will chase off intruders, while others are content to peacefully coexist with members of other species. Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) are definitely in the latter category—they barely reacted when this Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) passed through the middle of their flock, weaving his way in and around the much larger birds.

I love to capture images with multiple species in a single frame. In this case, I am curious why the duck chose to swim through the geese rather than going around them. Was he courageous and bold? Was he stubborn and determined?

How will you face the upcoming new year? Here’s hoping that, like this little duck, you will be able to move confidently forward towards your goals, mindful of the obstacles that face you, but unbowed by them.

 

Ring-necked Duck

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Recently I mentioned that I had spotted a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at a nearby “suburban pond” and realized that readers may have differing ideas of what such an environment looks like. The pond is man-made and serves as a storm water retention pond. A gentleman who lives nearby told me that it is 35 feet deep (1066 cm) at its deepest point. There is a path that goes around the pond, which is bounded by a complex of townhouses on one side, by roads on two sides, and by a wooded area on the final side.

Last week I captured a series of images of an eagle swooping down and pulling what I think was a small fish from that pond. I was a long way off and the focus is not as sharp as I would have liked it, but I think the photos show pretty clearly how close the pond is to a road. You can see some vehicles, traffic signs, and even the signals for a crosswalk. I really like the fact that I can see a pretty good variety of wild creatures in this pond. Initially I thought that there were only ducks and geese there, but I have also seen Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants, and now even Bald Eagles.

Perhaps you have a similar small body of water where you live. I encourage you to check it out and you may surprised to find a lot of wildlife living there.

Balg Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Even when they are dozing, ducks seem to be keeping an eye on me, including a male Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris), a male Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus), and a male Ruddy Duck, all of which I spotted this past week floating on a local pond.

 

Ring-necked Duck

Hooded Merganser

Ruddy Duck

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »