Saturday, March 31, 2012

East and West Coast birds in California

While visiting family in Southern California took some time to go birding. As always I saw lots of really cool birds but they are often difficult to photograph with my point and shoot camera. I was however successful with a few that I would like to share.
Here is a Boat Tailed Grackle strutting across the road. I love they way they can walk and not just hop like the smaller song birds.

These three guys were really showing off and trying to outdo each other and impress the girl ....

...oops, guys I think she is over there with your buddy.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) has got to be one of the most beautiful duck in North America if not one of the most memorable. I often see them in the marshes and quiets sections of the Shenandoah but I was pleasantly surprised to find this in the lake at Bonelli Park in southern California. He is a male as indicated by the colorful plumage. The female is rather dull with a large white eye ring which sets her apart from other dabbling ducks. The scientific name, Aix sponsa, is a hybrid of Greek and Latin meaning “waterfowl in wedding raiment” and I must say he does look all dressed up.

These are the ducks I filmed in documentaries showing the tiny ducklings jumping out of trees, bouncing on the ground and running after their mothers to the nearest water. The ducklings also have sharp, pin-pointed, hooked claws as well as a hook at the end of their beaks to help climb out of the tree cavity and backwards down the tree if needed. They nest in tree cavities and for a while were almost eliminated because of tree cutting and over hunting but a 1918 law placed them under protection and they gradually recovered. I think a lot of thanks go to the artificial nesting boxes that were put out on their behalf. They live and migrate mainly within the United States.

Below is a photo movie of this one drinking water, at least I think that is what it is doing.

Walking on around the lake I came to a beautiful Snowy Egret.

They are one of the first wading birds I learned to identify because I used the common memory device of relating the yellow galoshes (yellow feet) to what a child might wear in the snow. As they are wading they stir the bottom with one of those yellow feet to scare the crabs and small fish. The Snowy Egret then rushes about grabbing what it can before they hide again. Below you can see how it wiggles its foot under the water.

Pretty cool, uh?

I often think of sparrow as one of those “little brown jobs” that are hard to identify but not this guy. He has a white mohawk with black and white sides. He is a White Crowned Sparrow, similar to the Whitethroat Sparrow but with a gray throat instead. I think he is a handsome dude and not one I often see in my normal stomping grounds or West Virginia, so I was delighted to find this one in Rancho Santa Anna Botanical Gardens, Claremont, California.

Most of these birds I see on the East coast but for some reason they just seemed a little more accessible in the early spring on the West coast.

Be sure to link on over to Camera Critters for some other interesting animals in our world. Click here.


Barb Phillips said...

Your bird photos are so inspiring. I personally love the wood duck so bright.

squirrel said...

Barb, thank you for the nice comment. I checked out your blog and you have some pretty inspiring photos yourself. I believe the more we document nature the better we have a chance at preserving it and the good in ourselves as well.

heyBJK said...

Love that first grackle shot! And the Wood Duck is gorgeous!